MICHAEL STEELE ISN’T VERY BRIGHT…. Let this be a lesson to all of us — when major political parties are looking for a chairman or chairwoman, it’s not a good idea to pick someone conspicuously unintelligent. It’s an even worse idea to have that person pretend to understand the basics of public policy.

This week, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele argued that Medicare is a) a great government program that Democrats are trying to undermine and the GOP is trying to protect; and b) a terrible program that doesn’t work and should probably be privatized. The shift happened within 24 hours.

Steele spoke to NPR’s Steve Inskeep this morning, and the host tried to get a better understanding of what Steele is thinking. Amanda Terkel posted the audio and a transcript, which are both worth checking out. Steele isn’t very bright, and he made a fool out of himself on the air.

It started when Steele endorsed increased government regulation of the private insurance market.

INSKEEP: Wait, wait — you would trust the government to look into that?

STEELE: No, I’m talking about the private — I’m talking about citizens. I’m talking about — (CROSSTALK)

INSKEEP: Who is it you — you said it is something that should be looked into. Who is it that you think should look into that?

STEELE: Well, who regulates the insurance markets?

INSKEEP: That would be the government, I believe.

STEELE: Well, and so what. Now wait a minute. Hold up. You’re doing a wonderful little dance here and you’re trying to be cute. But the reality of this is very simple. I’m not saying the government doesn’t have a role to play. I’ve never said that. The government does have a role to play; it has a very limited role to play.

INSKEEP: Mr. Chairman, I respect that you think I’m doing a dance here. I just want you to know that as a citizen, I’m a little confused by the positions you take because you’re giving me a very nice nuanced position here —

STEELE: It’s not nice and nuanced. I’m being very clear.

As David Kurtz concluded, “Hard to believe this guy really is the head of a major American political party.”

There were several candidates seeking the RNC chairmanship this year. The party chose the most ridiculous, least qualified, most confused one. That Steele reflects poorly on the party, its agenda, and its ability to be serious about public policy is a dramatic understatement.

Steve Benen

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.