I see this as good news even as it prevents one of our most gifted candidates in the Free State from running for Senate in 2010.
The best news about this good man’s election is Steele’s demeanor.Â He’s knows the issues and he’s right within the mainstream of the GOP.Â Not just that, he was the first African-American elected statewide in Maryland.Â In 2006, a very Democratic year in a very Democratic state, he ran better than his party’s presidential candidate in a year more favorable to our party.
He knows how to reach out beyond the base.
I met Steele briefly at the Republican National Convention and we chatted for about a minute before he had to go on Sean Hannity’s show.Â He didn’t seem taken aback when I handed him my card (with the name of this blog) and told him about us.Â I also said I wished he were RNC chair. Well, fewer than six months later, I got my wish.
While he knows how to handle the media and looks good on TV, I do have some concerns about his organizational skills.Â Let’s hope he finds a good manager to help up reorganize the party apparatus.Â I’m delighted that he outlined a tech plan to “compete with Democrats in the online arena of social networking, fundraising and communication.”
With the election of Steele as party chairman, the nomination of Sarah Palin as our party’s Vice-Presidential candidate last year, he election of Bobby Jindal as Governor of Louisiana just over a year ago, the elevation of Eric Cantor to House Republican Whip and the runoff victory of An “Joseph” Cao as Congressman for New Orleans, we now have a whole crop of articulate Republican leaders who do not fit the media image of us as a party of white male Christians.
If the Republican Party is to rebuild its majority, we need to reach out to all Americans.Â With an increasingly diverse crop of party leaders, with Steele at our helm, it looks like we’re doing just that.
UPDATE:Â Jim Geraghty sums up the Steele’s strength and expresses concerns similar to mine about his organizational skills:
What will Republicans be getting in Steele? Maybe the ideal television presence, a dynamic and energetic speaker who cheerfully brings a Republican message to communities that aren’t always initially receptive. The contrast with Duncan’s seemingly invisible media presence will be clear. But Steele’s bid was hindered by questions about whether he would excel as much at the parts of the job that aren’t in front of the camerasâ€”the day-to-day management and fundraising.
UP-UPDATE: Log Cabin President Patrick Sammon praises the selection: “Michael Steele is the right man at the right time to lead the GOP. . . . It’s a great day for our Party. Steele is an inclusive leader who will bring a new energy and a new vision to the GOP at a critical time.”
UP-UP-UPDATE: I am heartened by Steele’s reference to the Contract with America in remarks made after his election as party chief:
The bottom line was the American people had lost faith in our leadership. . . . We entered into a contract with them in 1994 and they expected us to honor it. In the way we would lead, in the way we would serve, in the way we would protect their interests. And we abrogated that contract. And that’s why that scarlet letter at that time was placed their by the people.”