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Thread: Hell freezes over twice: RNC elects Michael Steele as first semi-black chairman

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Talking Hell freezes over twice: RNC elects Michael Steele as first semi-black chairman

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Michael Steele, a former Maryland lieutenant governor, was elected chairman of the Republican National Committee on Friday.

    Michael Steele was chosen Friday as the first African-American leader of the Republican Party.

    Steele, the first African-American to hold the post, defeated South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson, 91-77, in the final round of voting among the RNC's 168 members. Only 86 votes were needed.
    "This is our opportunity. I cannot do this by myself," he told the crowd at the annual RNC meeting Friday. "God bless you, and God bless our party. ... It's going to be a new day."
    Steele also told his fellow party members that it will be a "great honor to spar" with President Obama.
    For the duration of his campaign, Steele fought perceptions that he was too moderate to lead the party because of his blue-state roots and his former membership in the Republican Leadership Council, a group that sought to curb the influence of social conservatives in the party.
    "For so long, we've allowed the Democrats to define us, we've allowed the media to define us, and so it's important for us to begin to establish with clarity who we are, what we believe as we begin to go out and take, I think, a brand new message to the American people," he said Friday.
    Steele brings a national profile to the committee, having shot to fame in the political world during an underdog Senate bid in 2006 distinguished by a series of clever TV commercials. He has since become a fixture on cable talk shows, experience that boosted his reputation as the best communicator among the field of RNC candidates.

    Earlier Friday, Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan, who was elected to lead the committee in 2007, dropped his re-election bid, telling committee members: "Obviously the winds of change are blowing here at the RNC."
    Duncan rose to address the committee after three disappointing rounds of balloting in the chairman's election. He bled votes on every successive ballot, his support trickling to the other candidates in the race.
    Despite the sometimes contentious nature of the campaign and criticism that the party suffered with him at the helm, Duncan told the crowd the race had been worth it.
    "I thought this would be good for the party," he said. "And I think it has been."
    Duncan earned a noisy round of applause when he said running the committee "has truly been the highlight of my life."
    Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell also ended his run Friday, throwing his support to Steele, a fellow African-American candidate.
    Blackwell had been in last place after four rounds of voting.
    "I told you last night that in elections, there are two ways that you change outcomes: You either change the composition of the electorate, or you can change the attitude of the electorate," he said Friday.
    "My fellow Republicans and members of the RNC, I cannot change the composition of this electorate. Nor would I want to. I do want to influence your perspective and your attitude at this moment in history. We must be a party that makes good the promise of Lincoln. We must unleash a new, a new birth of freedom," Blackwell said.
    Also on Friday, Michigan GOP chairman Saul Anuzis ended his bid to head the national party. He did not endorse either of the remaining candidates.
    "It's been a great honor," he said. "I have enjoyed every minute."
    With Republicans out of the White House and in the minority in both houses of Congress for the first time since 1994, the new chairman will have an uncommonly powerful role in revitalizing the beleaguered party.
    "What counts now, quite frankly, is competence more than change," said Massachusetts committee member Ron Kaufman, who backed Duncan's re-election bid. "People want a chairman who can run the building, raise the money and spend it wisely, and that becomes more important to folks than just change for change's sake."
    Duncan had garnered more public endorsements from RNC members than any of his opponents and had run a sophisticated re-election campaign. However, many in the committee were ready for a clean break from the soft-spoken Kentuckian, who managed to raise $400 million during a difficult 2008 cycle.
    Duncan, tapped in 2007 to succeed Ken Mehlman, is also associated with former President George W. Bush and sat atop the party through an election in which Republicans hemorrhaged congressional seats for the second consecutive cycle.
    Some party members want the new chairman to change with the times to win back disaffected voters, while others are convinced the party must stress basic conservative principles like small government and lower taxes.
    With so many considerations on the table and opinions differing widely among the membership, no candidate emerged early as the true front-runner. As a result, the race had, at times, turned sour. Each contender was the victim of e-mail salvos laden with opposition research that appeared in member inboxes almost daily in recent weeks, sometimes anonymously.
    Dawson presided over of a string of GOP successes in South Carolina, from the state house on up to last year's pivotal Republican presidential primary.
    He boosted his prospects earlier in January, but a number of party members said they didn't savor the thought of having a white Southerner as the face of the party in the age of Obama. In September, he resigned from a country club with a whites-only restriction in its deed.
    RNC elects its first African-American leader
    I can't stand Steele. But, hey, I'm sure this will piss off people like Limbaugh and Hannity.
    Last edited by kingcap72; January 30th, 2009 at 05:44 PM.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    The only way it could get weirder is if a Log Cabin Republican won
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Elite Member ManxMouse's Avatar
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    Black is the new black.
    Santa is an elitist mother fucker -- giving expensive shit to rich kids and nothing to poor kids.

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    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Interesting. I wonder how the die-hards will deal with it. Seems like quite a few Republicans didn't want a black man as president. Wonder how they'll deal with a black man as their party leader. This could be really interesting down the road...

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    ^^They'll just blame Steele when the party continues to implode.

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    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    Copy cats!

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    Elite Member bychance's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brookie View Post
    Copy cats!

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    Elite Member lurkur's Avatar
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    In September, he resigned from a country club with a whites-only restriction in its deed.
    Political aspirations and money are the only thing that drive people like this. No human decency whatsoever.

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    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    Uh - if he's black and he resigned from a "whites-only" country club - how did he get in??

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    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brookie View Post
    Uh - if he's black and he resigned from a "whites-only" country club - how did he get in??
    The other guy, Katon, was part of the country club. Not Steele.

    Update: At first glance, this appears to be the kind of step forward that the Republican Party needs to be successful in the years ahead. As I noted in an earlier post, the race for RNC chair came down to a choice between an African-American moderate and a Southern white man with a troubled history when it comes to racial issues. Clearly, for a party that's increasingly relegated to representing only Southern whites, the RNC's voting members made the right choice, at least judging by that factor alone.

    Steele does hold some promise when it comes to attracting minorities to the GOP. He was unsuccessful in his 2006 Senate race, true, but he did manage to pull 25 percent of the black vote, a mean feat for any Republican in Maryland.

    On other fronts, though, Steele's a questionable choice. He hasn't displayed a ton of political acumen -- he's won elected office only once, and he didn't head that ticket. He lost the aforementioned Senate race, and, before that, couldn't even win a GOP primary for state comptroller; he placed third, in fact. His tenure as head of the Maryland party wasn't brilliant, either, and he repeatedly had trouble recruiting candidates. (In his defense, it's not easy to be a Republican in the state.) Along the way, he's made some serious missteps: He got in trouble in 2006 for making some unguarded remarks disparaging then-President Bush to a group of reporters. His name was supposed to be kept off the comments, but when it quickly became obvious who was responsible, Steele tried to lie his way out of the gaffe. Also in 2006, he attracted unwanted attention when, speaking before a Jewish group, he compared stem cell research to medical tests that the Nazis conducted on prisoners during the Holocaust. The GOP better hope this victory is a sign that he's learned some hard lessons --he already has a tough fight ahead of him in trying to win over the party's conservative wing, which doesn't fully trust him because of his membership in the more moderate Republican Leadership Council.

    And while Steele's personal resume looks impressive from afar, it's not nearly as pretty up close. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University and then got a law degree from Georgetown University, true. That said, though, he initially flunked out of Hopkins, and while he did pass the bar in Pennsylvania, he failed it in Maryland. His record as a businessman wasn't stellar, either. A consulting firm he founded never turned a profit, and was a serious drain on his finances. Shortly after he began his run for lieutenant governor, Steele ran into trouble because of a $25,000 loan his sister had given to his campaign for comptroller that he'd never paid back. Then, there were revelations of an additional $35,000 in personal debt, as well as more than $100,000 he'd taken out of two retirement accounts in order to support his family, leaving a balance of less than $600 at the time the news broke. He suffered further embarrassment over his finances when it was revealed that the Republican Party was paying him a consulting fee of $5,000 a month during his campaign for lieutenant governor.

    ― Alex Koppelman

    Michael Steele, forever failing upward - War Room - Salon.com

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    Elite Member lurkur's Avatar
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    I'd like to see what this guy's fellow Republicans say about him and his skin color behind his back. The guy's 'qualifications' don't seem all that stellar. Seems like a Clarence Thomas move -- prop up a black puppet to do what s/he is told. it's a black face on the same old racist policies and outlooks.

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lurkur View Post
    I'd like to see what this guy's fellow Republicans say about him and his skin color behind his back. The guy's 'qualifications' don't seem all that stellar. Seems like a Clarence Thomas move -- prop up a black puppet to do what s/he is told. it's a black face on the same old racist policies and outlooks.
    Yup. Nailed it.

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    Elite Member Penny Lane's Avatar
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    As much as I'd like to see this as a progressive move on the GOP's part... I don't buy it. They're projecting the image of racial tolerance/change... riding on the coattails of Obama's campaign, if you will... when I'm willing to bet that a large portion of these politicians still hold their traditionalist, conservative beliefs near and dear to their hearts.

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    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    I'm surprised they didn't draft Rush Limbaugh, their official songstress.

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    Elite Member RevellingInSane's Avatar
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    Black Republicans? How mentally imbalanced must a minority be to support Republicans. Oh, Uncle Tom...where are you?

    He is following in the footsteps of the great black role models, such as Clarence Thomas and Condi Bush...err...Rice.



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