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Democrats: Beware of Michael Steele
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Author:  TheValuesVoter [ Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:39 am ]
Post subject:  Democrats: Beware of Michael Steele

Democrats: Beware of Michael Steele
By Bob Beckel

After blasting Republicans for an endless string of missteps last week, I concede the GOP finally got one right. Electing the former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, Michael Steele, to chair the Republican National Committee is a smart move for the GOP and a warning for Democrats.

I have spent hours with Steele at the Fox News studios, and in dozens of TV encounters, and at dinners. Steele is a friendly, formidable, and very partisan man who should not be underestimated. He has a disarming and gifted television personality and an uncanny ability to make the most unreasonable arguments sound rational. In a debate, he can charm his opponents into a false sense of security, and then proceed to maul them. Democrats who underrate Steele do so at their own peril.

The press continually refers to Steele as a "moderate", but he is not a moderate -- he only plays one on television. Under that friendly persona of reasonableness lies the soul of a doctrinaire conservative. From an ardent supply-sider to a committed pro-life advocate (he came within a year of being ordained a Catholic priest), Steele is firmly on the Right.

In the pro-choice state of Maryland, Steele rarely raised the abortion issue in his races for Lieutenant Governor and the U.S. Senate. But his party is looking to him to rekindle the passions of the pro-life movement on a national stage. And Steele is aware of the 2008 falloff of voter turnout in precincts where the pro-life movement is strong.

Democrats will say that abortion is not an important issue right now, especially in the midst of a daunting recession. Among most voting groups they are right, but they miss a group critical to maintaining the Democrats' majority -- Hispanics. Obama won many of their votes in 2008, but the bulk of Hispanic voters, like Steele, are Catholic and fervently anti abortion.

Steele understands that his party cannot regain a national majority unless the GOP can cut into the 2-1 advantage Obama received from Hispanics. But he also recognizes his party's opposition to grant amnesty to illegal aliens, many of whom are Hispanics. That position was, in part, responsible for major defections among Hispanics in 2008 who voted 40%+ for George Bush in 2004. The abortion card, carefully played, is in Steele's hand. And he will use it.

Steel will also try to attract more African American votes, which he emphasized in his campaign. This will be challenging to accomplish as well since the nation now has its first black president. But even here Steele sees an opening among the burgeoning black middle and entrepreneurial classes, of which Mr. Steele is a member. This growing black voting block is skeptical about the Democrats' minority policies that almost exclusively favor poor African-Americans.

Many successful blacks, Steele among them, grew up in sparse economic circumstances but managed to work their way up the ladder and eschew government dependency. They believe similar avenues are available to poorer blacks who have either become dependent upon the government or who lack the initiative to break from the "black as victim" mode.

Steele is firmly in this camp. Born on a military base in Washington D.C., Steele was put up for adoption. His adoptive parents, also from D.C., were hard working people of meager means. Along with his adopted sister (once married to boxer Mike Tyson) Steele was raised in a highly disciplined environment supplemented by a rigorous Catholic education.

Steele has made a good living in the private sector since his failed Senate bid. He has a strong work ethic and believes in a lightly regulated market capitalism. He opposes government intervention in the markets and was an outspoken critic of the Bush/Paulson $700 billion bailout plan. Steele also opposes Obama's stimulus plan.

But Steele is smart enough to avoid direct attacks on a popular president. That said, he anticipates Obama's favorable ratings to fall, which is likely, and when they do, expect Steele to go after the president with a vengeance. It is here that Steele enjoys an advantage: his race. He can attack Obama without being accused of playing the race card.

Steele once told me a story that speaks volumes about his determination to succeed: Steele attended college at Johns Hopkins University. In his freshman year, Steele said, his grades were so bad that the dean of students told him he would not be invited to return. His mother forced him to go back to the dean and insist he was prepared to do anything to continue his studies. The dean said "no," but Steele's mother made him confront the dean again. This went on for weeks until the dean, in desperation, agreed to readmit Steele with the proviso that any bad grades would end in his dismissal, mother or no mother. Steele went on to graduate near the top of his class at Johns Hopkins and was elected student body president.

Democrats beware: Steele faces challenges, perseveres, and succeeds. Given the state of the GOP Steele holds a weak political hand, but you can be sure he will maximize the opportunities of whichever card he holds.

Bob Beckel managed Walter Mondale’s 1984 presidential campaign. He is a senior political analyst for the Fox News Channel and a columnist for USA Today. Beckel is the co-author with Cal Thomas of the book "Common Ground."

Author:  ndcooper1 [ Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Democrats: Beware of Michael Steele

Mmmmm-hmmm. Verrry interesting. I'm encouraged by his dismay! :D

Author:  u r my sunshine [ Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Democrats: Beware of Michael Steele

TheValuesVoter wrote:
The press continually refers to Steele as a "moderate", but he is not a moderate -- he only plays one on television. Under that friendly persona of reasonableness lies the soul of a doctrinaire conservative. From an ardent supply-sider to a committed pro-life advocate (he came within a year of being ordained a Catholic priest), Steele is firmly on the Right.
Isn't it good to know that Bob Beckel knows this about him.

Yay. Good article, TVV. :D Go Steele!

Author:  justgrace [ Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Democrats: Beware of Michael Steele

I enjoyed this article very much. Beckel's candor is surprising. Sometimes I wonder if he is quite the bulldog Democrat that he has appeared in the past -- maybe he is secretly modifying his viewpoints. Or maybe I am just hoping.

At any rate, he seems to have quite a bit of respect (fear) for Michael Steele, his co-worker at FoxNews. He credits Steele's abilities to help the pro-life and Republican conservative cause. That makes me feel more peace that Steele was the right choice. (I was pretty sure beforehand, too)

Author:  TheValuesVoter [ Sun Feb 08, 2009 2:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Democrats: Beware of Michael Steele

J.C. Watts (who also was a fan of Huckabee) also has some nice things to say about Mike Steele.

J.C. WATTS: New RNC chairman has an opportunity

There is an old saying that goes, "The game isn't over until the fat lady sings." In the race for chairman of the Republican National Committee late last month, the old girl was humming.

It took Michael Steele six ballots to prevail over five opponents, but the happy news for Republicans across the fruited plain is that the former Maryland Republican chairman, lieutenant governor and my successor as chairman of the Republican GOPAC is today addressed as Mr. Chairman.

As I monitored the race by e-mail and text messages, I wondered if the chairmanship would slip away from Michael Steele and whether at the end of the day, Mr. Status Quo would be doing somersaults and giving high fives.

When you have establishment types running in races like this, the winner often prevails because the infrastructure of the establishment -- the consultants, pollsters, vendors and analysts who do business with the RNC -- want the incumbent to win.

However, as Maggie Thatcher once said, "Win the argument, you'll win the vote." Michael Steele won the argument and at the end of the day, he won the vote.

The argument was that we live in an extremely diverse society, and Republicans were chipping away at reducing ourselves to being a regional party, almost to the point of irrelevancy. Our party seemingly refused to recognize that there are people outside of the South who believe in fewer taxes and cutting out waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government.

I suspect the Washington establishment is saddened today because the majority of the 168 members of the RNC ultimately chose not to protect their deal.

Now that the die has been cast on who the new RNC chairman will be, we're hearing the standard line that Michael Steele won the race because he's black and because the leader of the Democratic Party is an American of African descent.

I predicted that's the argument that would be made by the status quo crowd. But Steele played by the same rules as his opponents and got more votes.

While I agree that Michael Steele can help establish a deeper relationship with the black community, it didn't matter who the Democrat president was -- Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden or Dennis Kucinich -- Steele needed to be elected chair of the RNC this year.

I'm afraid if John McCain had been elected president, Michael Steele would likely not be the chair of the RNC today, because McCain's lieutenants would have wanted one of the good old boys occupying that office.

Michael is thoughtful and he has good bandwidth with the red, yellow, brown, black and white community. He was lieutenant governor and state party chairman in a very blue state, and I never once saw Michael Steele compromise his core Republican principles.

In spite of his sterling credentials, President Bush and Karl Rove had an opportunity to appoint Steele as RNC chairman three years ago, yet they chose status quo.

Steele has said he will bring in fresh ideas and start down the track of rebuilding the party. While Steele isn't a cure-all for our party, he is a good first step in putting together the building blocks to get there. He has said he will work to establish deeper relationships with the black and Hispanic communities.

He will work to create opportunity for all.

Steele also understands that Republicans can't continue making it look like "we hate government," then ask the voters to "let us manage it." I don't hate my government; I just love my freedoms more.

A government that is bloated, expensive, inefficient, wasteful and riddled with fraud is not the kind of government we want.

Many Republicans along with many Democrats believe we can do better as well.

Chairman Steele is an enthusiastic and effective communicator. When you combine communication skills with conviction, you've got a formula for success.

Good, bad or indifferent, 2009 politics and the politics of the 21st century demands good communicators. I think we've all seen how difficult it is to govern if you can't communicate (see Bush, George W.), or how successfully good communicators can govern (see Reagan, Ronald W.).

With the Democratic majority in Congress now offering a $780 billion stimulus package that's half stimulus and half skunk, Mr. Steele will get an early test of his communication skills.

J.C. Watts (, chairman of J.C. Watts Companies, a business consulting group, is former chairman of the Republican Conference of the U.S. House, where he served as an Oklahoma representative from 1995 to 2002. He writes every other week for the Review-Journal.

Author:  FirstCoastTerp [ Sun Feb 08, 2009 10:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Democrats: Beware of Michael Steele

Good to hear from JC Watts. I wish he would enter politics again.

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