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Michael Steele

Praise for Michael Steele. No, really.

Michael Steele 28%

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Y'all know how much I like smacking around (rhetorically speaking) Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. He makes it SO easy. That's why when Steele not only does the right thing, but also says the right thing, I feel obligated to give him his props.

Michael SteeleSteele's vocal opposition to a proposed suicide pact -- otherwise known as the purity test for GOP candidates -- being considered at the party's annual meeting in Hawaii was a show of real leadership. In order to be considered conservative enough to qualify for the national party's money and support, candidates would have to agree with eight of the 10 questions on the "Reagan Resolution." Well, it's more like be against something. Against same-sex marriage. Against gun control. Against climate change legislation. Against abortion. The proposal is so narrow and restrictive, new Republican It-Boy, Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-Mass.) wouldn't even make the cut.

But the resolution is now considered to be on life support thanks to Steele's vocal opposition. The Post's Philip Rucker quotes him saying, "Litmus tests don't work. They don't build parties, they don't build relationships, they can be divisive." He added, "This is not the business of the RNC. "Ronald Reagan would be ashamed if the party moved in that direction." The New York Times' Adam Nagourney quotes Steele saying, "I am personally not in favor of litmus tests. It’s not what brought me into the party. It’s not a welcoming or an inviting activity."

While on his book tour earlier this month, Steele taunted congressional Republican Party leaders by telling a radio station, "I'm a Tea Partier, I'm a town haller, I'm a grass-roots-er." What he said in Hawaii is a refreshing change in tone and tune. If the GOP ever hopes to break out of being a regional and reactionary party it must expand its appeal. A litmus test for ca. didates will ensure that it fails.


By Jonathan Capehart


Source: The Washington Post (January 28,2010)

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