Remember, ‘it’s all strategic’

REMEMBER, ‘IT’S ALL STRATEGIC’…. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says he’s glad to see Sen. Arlen Specter leave the party.

“Some in the Republican Party are happy about this. I am not.

“Let’s be honest – Senator Specter didn’t leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record.”

Now, Steele isn’t necessarily wrong about Specter’s motivations. The Pennsylvania senator was courting conservatives up until very recently, before realizing that it was a lost cause. If he wanted to win, it couldn’t be as a Republican. Specter has been fairly candid about this.

But seeing Steele issue a statement on this development at all only helps focus attention on his tenure as one of the ostensible party leaders.

Just a month ago, Steele told CNN that even when it looks like he’s embarrassed himself or suffered some kind of setback, it’s part of a larger plan. “It’s all strategic,” the RNC chairman said.

And how’s that strategy working out?

Over the last month, the Republican Party has humiliated itself with a ridiculous alternative budget. Multiple polls show the GOP shrinking into a tiny national minority. The party lost a special election in New York where Republicans enjoy a significant advantage, and where Steele said the results would “send a powerful signal to the rest of the country.”

And today, the party lost one of its few remaining moderates, who noted upon his departure, “[T]he Republican Party has moved far to the right.”

Don’t worry, though, “it’s all strategic.”

The mechanism for replacing an RNC chair is tricky, so it’s likely that Steele’s job is safe. But I’ll very surprised if the rumbling from party leaders and activists about Steele’s leadership doesn’t start getting pretty loud, pretty soon.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.