Killer ideologies

KILLER IDEOLOGIES…. Michael Steele has a way with words. Consider these remarks to Human Events, a right-wing magazine.

“The Republican Party’s credibility as the reliably conservative choice has been damaged, and it’s up to us to fix it. Faith, freedom, personal responsibility, respect for life and prosperity” Then he added, “Like a bad diet, liberalism will kill you. It’s a drug we don’t need to be hooked on. We are what stand between an America of prosperity or dependency. Which one do you want?”

Following up on an item from a couple of weeks ago, I keep thinking about Howard Dean’s tenure in early 2005, shortly after he took over as DNC chairman. He had a tendency to make some provocative comments — including telling a California audience that Republicans are “a pretty monolithic party. They all behave the same. They all look the same. It’s pretty much a white Christian party.”

If you go back and look at that period, you’ll notice that reporters (and Republicans) pressed Democratic leaders on whether they agreed with Dean, every time the party chairman would say something controversial. In the case of the “white Christian party,” John Edwards, Joe Biden, and Bill Richardson all publicly distanced themselves from Dean.

If Dean had ever dared to tell a strident political magazine that “conservatism will kill you” — a day after emphasizing the importance of “class” and “dignity” — I suspect the response would have been pretty intense. Every Democratic leader would be asked whether they’re comfortable with Dean’s attacks.

But I get the sense that Steele is perceived as such a loose cannon, comments like these hardly seem controversial anymore.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

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.