STEELE EXITS STAGE RIGHT…. About a year ago, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele was asked if he might try to avoid humiliating gaffes in the future. “Oh, no,” he replied. “Accidents happen, baby.”
In some respects, those three words — “accidents happen, baby” — sum up Steele’s tumultuous two-year reign as head of the RNC pretty well. Today, his tenure came to an official end — after multiple rounds of voting, it was clear Steele would not muster the necessary support to get a second term, and left with no options, he not-so-gracefully stepped aside.
Michael Steele dropped out of the race to run the RNC after a series of closed door meetings with every candidate except, as far as I could tell, Reince Priebus.
“It’s time for me to step aside, and give others the chance to lead,” said Steele. “Despite the noise — and Lord knows, there was a lot of noise — we won.”
What’s amazing to me is that Steele even tried to keep his job. To be sure, Republican candidates fared quite well during his tenure, but Steele’s “leadership” made him a national laughingstock. Republican leaders on Capitol Hill ignored Steele; major donors avoided him; and reporters only found him fascinating to the extent he’d screw up and saying something notably stupid.
The RNC, during Steele’s tenure, was fraught with mismanagement, budget problems, and mass resignations. There have been scandals; there have been investigations; and there have been donor-financed trips to bondage-themed lesbian nightclubs.
And there have been gaffes. Good lord, have there been gaffes. Steele’s capacity for saying ridiculous-but-newsworthy things was so extraordinary, no one — literally, no one — is as disappointed to see his tenure end than liberal bloggers.
Steele, by any reasonable measure, was the worst major-party chairman in modern political history. It didn’t make much of a difference — if one thing’s clear, it’s that the RNC chair doesn’t have much of an impact on actual elections — but I imagine there’s a sigh of relief among party officials nationwide anyway.
Announcing his departure, Steele told his party, “And now, I exit stage right.” He then proceeded to exit stage left. It was that kind of chairmanship.
So long, Michael. We knew you all too well.