NEITHER SEEN NOR HEARD…. There’s an old expression that says children are to be seen and not heard. At the Milford Academy in “Arrested Development,” children are to be neither seen nor heard.

The latter is the kind of approach the Republican National Committee takes when dealing with moderates in their midst. (via Eric Kleefeld)

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele appealed to the political middle Friday to join his party but added that the party itself wouldn’t moderate.

“All you moderates out there, y’all come. I mean, that’s the message,” Steele said at a news conference. “The message of this party is this is a big table for everyone to have a seat. I have a place setting with your name on the front.

“Understand that when you come into someone’s house, you’re not looking to change it. You come in because that’s the place you want to be.”

That’s quite a message. GOP moderates are welcome to stick around in the party, just so long as they realize they won’t be seen, won’t be heard, and aren’t allowed to have any influence.

Indeed, party members — in any party — often stick around despite being at odds with the party’s mainstream in the hopes that they’ll be able to help pull their party in one direction or another. Senators like Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins no doubt hope that they’ll have some sway over their colleagues, and in time, Republicans will move away from the far-right cliff.

Steele’s message, then, seems to be aimed at them quite directly — they’re welcome, as long as they don’t expect to have any power.

Update: Keeping with the metaphor, Chris Orr went on to say: “Steele added that moderates would be expected to clear the table and wash dishes quietly while the other guests argued over whether Barack Obama was a fascist or merely a socialist. Oh, and hope you guys are up for a little unpaid babysitting: The rest of us were hoping to check out a tea party later tonight.”

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. 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.