Like a Steele trap

LIKE A STEELE TRAP…. Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, looked rather ridiculous this week when he was forced to apologize to Rush Limbaugh for having told the truth. But looking over Steele’s brief tenure at the RNC, it’s hardly the only embarrassment.

In just a month on the job, Steele has insisted that government jobs aren’t real jobs. He’s raised the specter of undermining moderate Republican incumbents. He’s given multiple interviews in which he’s shown humiliating confusion about the basics of public policy. His efforts to make the Republicans “off the hook” and “beyond cutting edge” are already the subject of widespread ridicule. The man, by all appearances, doesn’t have the foggiest idea what he’s doing.

U.S. News’ Paul Bedard noted that Steele’s “own GOP troops” want him “to shut up.” Bedard talked to a top GOP strategist who said, “If his implosion continues, RNC members are likely to call a special session to dump him for an effective chairman.” Another Republican official added, “At this point, it is as if he has a fundamental misunderstanding of the job description.”

The Politico added that “key party leaders are worried” that the RNC has “made a costly mistake.” It’s not even limited to the p.r. fiascos.

On the organizational side, Steele does not have a chief of staff, a political director, a finance director or a communications director. Last week, one of the two men sharing the job of interim finance director was forced to resign.

For now, “the fourth floor,” as the RNC’s executive suite is known, is being run by a pair of consultants.

“There’s frustration that there’s no discipline, no planning,” said a well-known Republican consultant.

OK, so Steele has a habit of sticking his foot in his mouth. And issuing humiliating apologies. And dividing the party while alienating the base. And mismanaging the RNC itself. But everything else is going well for him, right?

Not quite. To add insult to injury, Steele has also been accused of financial shenanigans — twice. The first came when we learned about suspicious campaign expenditures Steele directed in 2006 to a company run by his sister, which was allegedly paid for work it never performed. Today, WBAL in Baltimore is also raising questions about $400,000 Steele paid to a commodities trading firm that doesn’t appear to have any connection to campaign work.

I’m not entirely sure why the Republican National Committee chose Steele as its chairman, but I know Democrats are awfully happy about it.