The RNC chairman's latest series of travails is bizarre, even by his standards
This should have been a good week for Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. He has a new book out, after all — “Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda” was released Monday, and he’s been out promoting it. But instead, the week’s been filled with criticism coming from within the Republican Party, and with more of the eccentricity that has characterized Steele’s tenure as head of the RNC.
Friday didn’t start off great for Steele; Think Progress caught an odd statement he’d made Thursday, in an interview with Dennis Miller: ” I feel this is part of a calling for me. I mean, I didn’t ask for, I didn’t seek this job, I didn’t ask for it. It wasn’t part of my, you know, charted course in life to wind up as chairman of the RNC. You know, there was a convergence of moments here.” It was a strange thing for him to say, because, in fact, Steele did ask for his job — he had to, because he was elected to it, and that took no small amount of politicking.
Then Steele touched off a minor kerfluffle within the world of political news when, 30 minutes before he was scheduled to appear on “Top Line,” a show on ABC News’ Web site, he suddenly canceled, though an RNC spokesperson had confirmed the interview only 15 minutes earlier. The cancellation was blamed on an “emergency meeting” that apparently didn’t exist, though the RNC has since said there was a regular meeting that was the reason for the chairman’s sudden change of heart.
Friday also saw more criticism of Steele from within the GOP. The Washington Post reported that Republican congressional leaders had no idea he was writing a book until it was released. Worse, they had no input in the book, which wouldn’t be a problem except that it’s about his ideas for how the party should come back to power in D.C. The Post quoted one anonymous aide to a “senior House Republican” as saying, “The book came out and everybody went, ‘Whoa, what happened?’ No one in the House or Senate leadership knew he had a book contract.”
Then, for the second time in two days, Steele gave an interview in which he responded to his critics in his own truly unique fashion.
“Let’s just say I’ve been in a little bit of trouble but I don’t care because I didn’t write this for them. This book is a book a lot of those staffers who are trying to get the chairman on message or muzzle the chairman — it’s a book they don’t want you to read. They don’t want you to read this book because a guilty conscience is a funny thing,” he told the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody.
Update: Another bit of Steele weirdness — he told Laura Ingraham that he wrote the book before he started his job as chairman of the RNC. But the book “was clearly written in late 2009, either in November or December, and is based entirely on current events up to that point,” TPM reports.
Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon. More Alex Koppelman.
More Related Stories
- Top White House aides knew about IRS probe but didn't tell Obama
- Gohmert: IRS would've "probably shot the Boston Tea Party participants"
- Oregon senator proposes appeal to Monsanto Protection Act
- Supreme Court to rule on prayer at government meetings
- Beltway scandal machine breaks, knows nothing about America
- Top GOP official: "Sometimes our party does not value" women "as much"
- Colorado Dems fight back against GOP's Voter ID measures
- Watchdogs: ABC "in danger of losing a lot of credibility" on Benghazi saga
- Father of gay high school student arrested for dating classmate speaks out
- IRS meltdown was long overdue
- Can a liberal wonk save the Senate?
- Arkansas treasurer charged with extortion
- Corporate greed is poisoning America -- literally
- The new geography of poverty
- Barack Obama: Incidental black man?
- Obama to all-male university graduates: Be the best husband to "your boyfriend or partner"
- Big Soda SNAP-ing up billions off government programs
- The truth in Kanye's anti-prison rap
- Tea Party Patriots push nationwide anti-IRS rallies
- GOP attorney general candidate tried to force women to report miscarriages to police
- Marijuana opponents' new plan: Kill First Amendment
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11