Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 16, 2009

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING.... After far too many foot-in-mouth controversies, RNC Chairman Michael Steele has reportedly "called a halt to his television appearances" and "curtailed national media interviews," in order to focus his energies on internal work at party headquarters.

That seems wise. The more Steele spoke, the more he embarrassed himself. The less we see of Steele, the happier the Republican establishment will be with his "leadership."

Except, there's a catch to all of this: Steele did some interviews before he decided to pull back, and they're still being published. Last week, a GQ interview, in which Steele seemed to endorse a woman's right to an abortion, caused the party all kinds of discomfort. Today, the Huffington Post reports on Steele filling in last week as a guest host of Bill Bennett's nationally syndicated conservative radio show.

In a virtually unnoticed two-hour tour-de-force, the Maryland Republican sat in for the conservative talker on March 6, right as the controversy over his statements on Rush Limbaugh reached its height. And Steele didn't disappoint, lambasting Republicans for inserting earmarks in the omnibus, comparing Barack Obama to Richard Nixon, describing the current political climate "Armageddon between conservatism and liberalism" and Rahm Emanuel as a "master manipulator," saying the globe was cooling rather than warming, and touting the importance of education only to misstate a prominent historical figure's name.

"I love this battle because what I see right now is leading to the ultimate political Armageddon between conservatism and liberalism," Steele declared at one point. "And the idea that free enterprise, free markets, free people are going to battle an oppressive, repressive, domineering government. I love that. That's what we are lining up for you folks. So you better get ready, strap it on, because it's coming. And you better pick your sides, you better choose now."

It's worth listening to the audio, because one thing jumps out at the listener. Michael Steele ... how do I put this gently ... isn't smart.

For example, Steele insisted that evidence of global warming is "part of the cooling process." To help prove his point, the RNC chairman said, "Greenland, which is covered in ice, it was once called Greenland for a reason, right? Iceland, which is now green. Oh I love this."

Later in the show, Steele added, "Education is key.... If we understand the difference between Marxism, socialism and capitalism; if we understand the difference between a Roberto Mussolini, an Adolf Hitler, and a Franklin Roosevelt, and his honor the honorable Winston Churchill, if we know those differences than we can appreciate what these times mean. And how history is a precursor of things to come."

I think he meant Benito Mussolini.

"Education is key," indeed.

Steve Benen 3:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (44)

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Comments

In the words of Dan Quayle:

"What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is."

Posted by: Chris S. on March 16, 2009 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

No, there's no disconnect. Roberto Mussolini was the guy who used to steal his lunch in grade school.

Posted by: bassface127 on March 16, 2009 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Greenland, which is covered in ice, it was once called Greenland for a reason, right? Iceland, which is now green. Oh I love this."

If the English language was good enough for Jesus Christ, it should have been good enough for the Eskimos and Vikings.

Posted by: g on March 16, 2009 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Just noticed this, too:

So you better get ready, strap it on, because it's coming

Please, Michael. don't go there.

Posted by: g on March 16, 2009 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

No,Steve, I think he did mean Roberto Mussolini.

Roberto was Benito's older brother who never went to high school. Seems he was the child left behind that Bushit was talking about...

Posted by: Stevio on March 16, 2009 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

This man is pure, 100% Comedy Gold. Keep'em coming, Michael. We need a good, GOP clown to make us laugh as our life savings melt away.

Posted by: Vertigo on March 16, 2009 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

"Greenland, which is covered in ice, it was once called Greenland for a reason, right?"

Good lord, what a dumbass.

Posted by: DH Walker on March 16, 2009 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like he's quoting from the LEFT BEHIND books. Ironically, I believe the GOP will be leaving Steele behind.

Posted by: Foobar on March 16, 2009 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Chairman Michael Steele has reportedly "called a halt to his television appearances..."

Soooooo, Poochie D. no longer rocks the tele?

He'll be returning to his home planet any day now.

Posted by: doubtful on March 16, 2009 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

...one thing jumps out at the listener. Michael Steele ... how do I put this gently ... isn't smart.

aaaiiieeeee liberal bias! LIBERAL BIAS!!!

"Greenland, which is covered in ice, it was once called Greenland for a reason, right? Iceland, which is now green. Oh I love this."

Hmm. Maybe not.

Posted by: Monty on March 16, 2009 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Daddyo, you are one cool cat. Thanks for making everything so dope. Strap it on cuz daddy's coming in.

Posted by: Patrick on March 16, 2009 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Iceland got it's name because when the discoverers (there were no "natives" before Europeans arrived) arrived in Rekjavik there were ice bergs in the bay -- an fluke event that occurs approximately once per century.

Greenland's name was an early example of marketing -- it was given that name by the founder in order to make his new settlement sound more attractive to prospective settlers. He did convince some people to settle there but the settlement failed due to the poor climate -- including all the ice.

Posted by: Cool on March 16, 2009 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

I think he meant Roberto Benigni, you know, the guy who had such a good time in the concentration camps.

Posted by: martin on March 16, 2009 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

A Republican leader who lacks intelligence. Hmm, let's see, Palin? Check. McCain? Check. Quayle? Check.

I see nothing wrong here.

Posted by: JWK on March 16, 2009 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Steele should take note of Greenland's history. With 85 percent of the land covered by ice, it needed some serious re-branding. Like a political party discovering hip-hop, the founders (Erick the Red?) dubbed the place Greenland, and the people came and settled. Didn't hurt that the land was free or that it's actually quite green and fertile in parts. But the point is, that if a giant iceberg can become Greenland, the GOP can become relevant again. Soldier on, dumbass. Soldier on.

Posted by: NHCt on March 16, 2009 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

I think he meant Roberto Rossellini, Italian film director, one-time husband of Ingrid Bergman (and father of Isabella), and, apparently, part-time dictator of Italy!! (Except for the fact that he was a huge anti-fascist.)

And "his honor" Winston Churchill? I know he was a Renaissance man, but a judge too?

Posted by: gradysu on March 16, 2009 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Damn, I wish STeve Gilliard was around to write about this guy he nailed so bad acouple of years ago.

Posted by: Stiv Bator on March 16, 2009 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

What, exactly, is he asking them to strap on?

Posted by: MenckenJr on March 16, 2009 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

from what I remember from my middle/high school history lessons is that Greenland was always icy -- some viking or other called it Greenland to trick other potential settles, and Iceland always had the milder climate.

Posted by: Elizabeth on March 16, 2009 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

To gradysu--

Steele was actually close on the Churchill honorific. As a former P.M. he was entitled to be called "the Right Honourable Winston Churchill." Hard to figure how Steele could have left out the "right," but he was at least heading in the right general direction.

None of which makes this verbal fuguing any closer to rational thought. His militia rhetoric puts him in Chuck Norris territory, which is a couple of degrees more demented than "going Galt."

Last question: does he intend to lump FDR in with Mussolini and Hitler? Sure sounds that way. And that would be consistent with the Kool-Aid they are serving in that part of the base.

Posted by: Henry on March 16, 2009 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

No, no, Roberto Mussolini was one half of the famous Thirties dance team of Roberto and Fignolia, the Sweethearts of Trieste. The only thing he had in common with his distant relative Benito was that they shared the same dance specialty, the one-armed two step.

I'm sure Steele knew all this.

And, "Strap it on?" Damn, those rightwingers are strange.

Posted by: ericfree on March 16, 2009 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

The last political player to have that many feet in his mouth was Dick Morris during the peak of his prostitute toe-sucking days.

Posted by: Otto Man on March 16, 2009 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Cool: Yes, everyone (including my kids) knows that, except Michael Steele.

Posted by: DH Walker on March 16, 2009 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Where does he sit on Finland and Ireland ?

From Palin not knowing Africa was a continent to this buffoon, Obama should be able to push the education angle with ease.

Posted by: ScottW on March 16, 2009 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

But, if he had been right about Iceland and it had previously been icy and now is green -- wouldn't that demonstrate warming, not cooling?

The man can't even support his own argument with his own made-up facts.

Posted by: Nothing But the Ruth on March 16, 2009 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

My best friend is a republican and he is always talking about how much he likes it when his girlfriend straps it on and does him in the butt. The guy is straight, but I always send him pictures of trannies and tell him that is the next logical step. No BS.

Posted by: Patrick on March 16, 2009 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

That's sad, because it means the Rap Battle with Steven Colbert must be off.

Posted by: Alex on March 16, 2009 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, as Michele Bachman put it, 'Michael Steele, you are da man!'

As Steve says, this is the gift which keeps on giving. And, after spending so many years watching the Dems engage in the circular firing squad after election losses, it's quite refreshing to see that the GOP is actually far more adept at it.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on March 16, 2009 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

History is indeed a precursor of things to come. It is also an antecedent, and often precedes the present.

Posted by: Rick on March 16, 2009 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

I think he meant Benito Mussolini.

Nope. Roberto was the guy who was running amok from one Italian radio broadcast to the next, screaming stuff like "I be da Duce!", and saying all sorts of nice, conciliatory things about the Ethiopians and Greeks. Obviously, his historical significance was erased in a manner quite similar to what is about to happen to Steele....

Posted by: Steve W. on March 16, 2009 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Zorro:

The thing I like best is watching the republicans I know bend over backwards to defend/rationalize every moronic thing that any republican politician says or does, out of a combination of refusal to ever admit when they're wrong about anything, and a total lack of sense enough to know when to be embarrassed.

Posted by: DH Walker on March 16, 2009 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Yes how does one politely mention that this guy is a blithering idiot? I still haven't gotten past the fact that they chose a guy to head the RNC who spent his last campaign pretending to be a Democrat (who can forget those "Steele Democrat" signs?)...though I guess the voter fraud aspect of it would be appealing to the GOP...

Posted by: Cioran Sellars on March 16, 2009 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Cioran:

Politely? The same lying-to-voters sleazebaggery that you mention suggests the answer to that.


Posted by: DH Walker on March 16, 2009 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

good,good comment by otto man about

eleven posts up.

Posted by: wschneid25 on March 16, 2009 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

[...] Churchill honorific. As a former P.M. he was entitled to be called "the Right Honourable Winston Churchill." Hard to figure how Steele could have left out the "right," [...] -- Henry, @ 16:13

Perhaps he thought that the "right" part of it was too partisan for our times? We should, perhaps, be grateful that he's better at subtraction than addition? He might have said "Right and Left Honourable" instead...

Posted by: exlibra on March 16, 2009 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Does he think Greenland and Iceland are the same place? What does "Iceland, which is now green" signify? Does he think Iceland was colder in the 10th century, but Greenland was warmer? I'm just wasting my time, aren't I?

Posted by: SqueakyRat on March 16, 2009 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

"History is a precursor of things to come."

Deep thoughts like this are best contemplated when you are stoned.

Posted by: qwerty on March 16, 2009 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

And this is the guy who promised fellow ReRushlickins that he wouldn't be providing popcorn for the oppo! Oh, but I'm drowning in a buttery popcorn avalanche, Michael, and I want more cow bell too!

Posted by: Neil B ♪ on March 16, 2009 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

"History...It is also an antecedent, and often precedes the present."
Thanks Rick. Best laugh so far today.

Posted by: Nothing But the Ruth on March 16, 2009 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Crikey, where does the GOP get these geniuses? It's like they have a secret contract to provide special gold material to Letterman, Stewart and Maher each week. You just can't make this shit up.

Posted by: jonas on March 16, 2009 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

"If we understand the difference between Marxism, socialism and capitalism..."

I don't think he understands the difference between Marxism, socialism and capitalism if his examples of the former two are Hitler and some guy named Mussolini. And I'm pretty sure he didn't mean National Socialists (that would take a nuanced historical understanding of Icelandic proportions). OK, maybe FDR was the socialist, maybe even the Marxist too - but then that leaves Mussolini, Hitler and Churchill as the capitalists? This man must hate America if he loves him some Europeans so much.

Alternate theory #3 - Roberto was Benito's Marxist cousin, and Hitler counts as a capitalist because he started Volkswagen and they can still make money selling cars.

Posted by: wd on March 16, 2009 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

Don't know why y'all are carpin' on that Roberto Mussolini thingie. Roberto, Alberto, Scalito, Benito... All them Eyetalian names look (and sound) the same; it's easy for a real American to get them confused.

Posted by: exlibra on March 16, 2009 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

"...the difference between a Roberto Mussolini, an Adolf Hitler, and a Franklin Roosevelt, and his honor the honorable Winston Churchill..."

Ambiguous there--is he bracketing FDR with Churchill, or with Adolf and "Roberto"?

Posted by: Nancy Irving on March 17, 2009 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

"When I was a conservative, I said a lot of very stupid things. And I became a liberal so that I would not have to go on saying very stupid things." -- The Rt. Hon. Sir Winston Churchill.

Posted by: ajay on March 17, 2009 at 6:16 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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