Change comes ‘in a tea bag’

CHANGE COMES ‘IN A TEA BAG’…. RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s speech to committee members was this afternoon, and I believe it was aired live on all three cable networks. Viewers got to hear Steele’s Greatest Hits, including an attack on ACORN, a shot at EFCA, and even a reference to the Fairness Doctrine. I wish I were kidding.

But here’s the quote that you’re likely to see quite a bit more of:

“Those of you who actually attend Lincoln Day dinners, and county party events, those of you who toil in the vineyards, spending time in communities, in diners, in barber shops, and in coffee shops where real, every day people can be found. You know it is real. You can see it and feel it.

“This change, my friends, is being delivered in a tea bag. And that’s a wonderful thing.”

Remember when Steele recently described himself as “the gift that keeps on giving”? He wasn’t kidding.

On a more serious note, the RNC chairman also vowed, “The Republican Party is again going to emerge as the party of new ideas.” He then proceeded to note exactly zero new ideas.

Now, in fairness, it’s not Steele’s job to craft these policy proposals; his is not a policy job. But it reinforces the problem of a bankrupt GOP agenda.

If Steele is going to tell a national television audience that the Republican Party is going to be the party of new ideas, only to suggest they’ll let us know when they eventually think of something, there’s a fundamental flaw in the pitch.

Update: After the speech, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell asked former Republican Rep. Chris Shays what “new ideas” Steele had proposed. Shays responded, “I didn’t hear any new ideas. But that’s the point — I mean, we need to be talking about ideas.”

Or, put another way, “We’ll be the party of new ideas just as soon as we think of some new ideas. In the meantime, socialism, handshake, 9/11.”

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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.