Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 5, 2010

STEELE PLAYS THE WRONG CARD.... Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele recently lectured Democrats about race. In December, the embarrassing party leader said he's "sick and tired of the left and Democrats in this country when they get in trouble and don't get their way and their backs are up against the wall on legislation or whatever it is their trying to do, they go to that card, they play that race card."

It was noteworthy, then, when Steele, hoping to put last week's unpleasantness behind him, told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "Good Morning America" that he's held to a higher and unfair standard because of his race.

The White House is right to argue that the scandal-plagued RNC chair is on the wrong track.

GOP Chairman Michael Steele shouldn't blame criticism of his actions on race, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday.

Gibbs called Steele's remark that criticism of his leadership is motivated by race "silly" during a meeting with reporters.

"I think Michael Steele's problem isn't the race card, it's the credit card," Gibbs added.

And in the larger context, Adam Serwer's observation rings true:

This is another example of why Republicans continue to fail at minority outreach: Their understanding of how racism works is completely politicized. Steele thinks he's a victim of racism whenever he's in trouble, but also thinks that Obama only got elected because he's black, except when he's trying to draw parallels between himself and the president. Abortion is a plot to commit genocide against black people -- but the idea that being black might make it harder for you to get a job is ludicrous. Republicans generally seem to see racism as a political weapon rather than something that actually affects people's lives and livelihoods, and Steele's presence at the RNC isn't doing anything to disabuse them of that notion.

I'd just add that, as a matter of public relations, Steele seems to have missed yet another opportunity. Last week was a disaster for the RNC -- in large part because Steele's RNC spent two grand in donor money at "a bondage-themed nightclub featuring topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex" -- and the chairman no doubt went on "Good Morning America" to help set things right.

Instead, the big topic of the day in political circles is: Steele plays race card following sex scandals.

Steve Benen 11:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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"I think Michael Steele's problem isn't the race card, it's the credit card," Gibbs added.

Please tell me there's a video of this quip!

Posted by: stinger on April 5, 2010 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans have this misguided belief that Blacks are somehow 'different' from Normal People.

That's why, as a Good Liberal (and color blind, like Steven Colbert), when filling out my census form, under Race I wrote in 'Human'. . .

Posted by: DAY on April 5, 2010 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

11th commandment for Democrats

Never hand a bucket of water to republicans when their fundraising house is on fire.

Gibbs played the wrong card too...
Sure this is a brilliant line that resonates across the internets:

"I think Michael Steele's problem isn't the race card, it's the credit card."

But why give republicans an out?
Why ruin the popcorn party?
Let them do the internecine thing a while... eh?

Posted by: koreyel on April 5, 2010 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Well I think it OK to just come right out with it: Steele is only in office because he is Black. He was put there to allow uncontested criticism of a Black president. He can take jabs at Obama that go right to the edge of racism and not be called down for it. He also provides cover for the GOP's attacks on Obama's race (Spook emails, witch doctor etc)in allowing them the fall back "but our guy is Black too". He is ,in its purest form, an Uncle Tom. He is also a buffoon that would have walked the GOP plank long ago if he was not Black.

Posted by: Richard on April 5, 2010 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Steele IS A DEMOCRAT, republicans have been played!!

Posted by: yESmAN on April 5, 2010 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Serwer is wrong, I think.

The GOP's problem is the belief is that racism doesn't really exist; it's only a mirage cooked up by ACORN and the left to intimidate poor defenseless white commentators. When a GOP leader invokes racism, it can only be cynically.

Posted by: Mike from Detroit on April 5, 2010 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

So why do people think Republicans are more fiscally responsible then Democrats? Will the proposed Republican Road Map's Health Vouchers be available for mental health visits to lesbian bondage clubs?

FYI, "Gentlemen's Clubs" are one of the primary employers of child prostitutes in Atlanta, the recognized epicenter of the child sex industry in America.

Fiscal irresponsibility, moral corruption, racial animosity -- Michael Steele really has a way of putting the big issues in perspective.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on April 5, 2010 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Michael Steele's emphasis on misplaying the race card makes him look bad, but there's also an ominous gambit here that everyone seems to be overlooking: By misplaying the card so badly, he effectively tears asunder its overall credibility, and further promotes to the White Tinfoil Hat People Party the wretched notion that blacks have no business in national politics.

Steele the apprentice is; now who the master is we must discover....*


Posted by: S. Waybright on April 5, 2010 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

As republicans, our leaders have displayed courage is pointing out that real racism continues to exist in the United States.

As one of those who are the only unbiased interpreters of racism (an older white male), I agree with the leaders of our republican party that Obama is a racist.

It is unfortunate that you progressives will not acknowledge that the only remaining racism in our country is that of reverse racism from blacks and browns against the increasingly oppressed real white citizens.

It is also unfortunate that you progressives will not acknowledge that it is also only older white males who have the dispassionate, unbiased knowledge to make medical decisions for women.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on April 5, 2010 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

""sick and tired of the (left)right and (Democrats)Republicans in this country when they get in trouble and don't get their way and their backs are up against the wall on legislation or whatever it is their trying to do, they go to that card, they play that race card." replace left with right and democrats with republican and that is really what this discourse is about.

Posted by: mljohnston on April 5, 2010 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

they must be more fiscally responsible, the folk in the left wing media keep saying they are.

Posted by: Jamie on April 5, 2010 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

On the subject of race, Bill Moyers' show on Friday was all about race and inequality. It was a somber and powerful episode that featured two African-American lawyers and writers, Michelle Alexander (Ohio State Law School) and Bryan Stevenson (NYU School of Law). The discussion covered crime, the war on drugs, and much more. Video and a transcript are on-line at Moyers' web site.

Posted by: meander on April 5, 2010 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

The RNC Chairmans is such a cliche of victimhood, corruption and plain ol' dumbassery.

His brand of 'racism' seems pretty unique in American Politics. Here's a guy with access to millions $$$ of other peoples money, donated for very specific reasons, and he just helps himself -charters jets, and limos, fails to oversee staff expenditures and reimbursement and then dares everybody to call him on it or take steps to hold him accountable.

IMO it would be a very potent charge to level at the entire Republican Party - that they expect to be elected in great numbers in the fall, yet, they seem powerless to do anything about one corrupt, loudmouthed idiot. What a confidence builder.

Michael Steele's ineptitude should be a campaign issue.

Posted by: bcinaz on April 5, 2010 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans, on the other hand, play the race-card card all the time.

Posted by: DH Walker on April 5, 2010 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

You can see why the Repubs hate affirmative action so much. Whenever they try it, it blows up in their face!

Posted by: sceptic on April 5, 2010 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Just Call Steele "The Seeing Clayton Bigsby"

The fundamental truth is, you have to be a stupid MoFo, to be black and Republican in today's Republican party.

I think J.C. Watts and Colin Powell saw the writing on the wall.

Imagine the cognitive dissonance and willfull ignorance it must take to be the putative leader of a group based on a platform of segregation from, discrimnation against, and the demonization of people like yourself.

One would have to be blind and inside of a total knwowledge bubble to not be aware of how backwards that is.

But, Clayton Bigsby is a fictional charachter isn't he?

Posted by: Winkandanod on April 5, 2010 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Steele himself, like Clarence Thomas, was pulled from well-deserved obscurity to be a walking, talking race card. What more do you need to know about today's GOP and race?

Posted by: mandil on April 5, 2010 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Oh the schadenfreude...


Posted by: efgoldman on April 5, 2010 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone else here feel that Michael Steel might be in his position (or at least, remain in his position) simply to further radicalize the base of the Party?

Clearly, the objectives of not only the base of the Party, but also of the powerful and anonymous benefactors of the Party, can no longer be reconciled with participatory democracy. You "make up the difference" by radicalizing what's left, either by encouraging them to speak more loudly and more forcefully than their opposition, or by pushing them to use force.

As we here all know, the only card left to play *is* the race card. Could it be that the damage Steele is doing to his "own Party" is actually radicalizing it all the more? I can almost hear Tea Partiers all over the country: 'See? Even our own n1ggers can't be trusted'.

Posted by: JTK on April 5, 2010 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Steele is just wanting to play with the other GOP boys!

He's wanting the same luxuries, the limos, the ladies, the limelight. The good times, the expensive meals, the best suits, the life of a wealthy Republican.

Why is it HE keeps getting caught out, and there's no one bailing him out, like all the other bad rich white boys who can twist the media, silence publicity, and alter the nastiest reality into a less-nasty one the public can swallow...

I'm thinking no one has Mr. Steeles back the way they seem to have one anothers. I'm thinking that deliberately showing Mr. Steeles vulnerabilities is, like S. Waybright said, the GOP's way of showing their Republican base "just how badly people of color run things".

A very skillful ploy indeed, if so.

Posted by: * on April 5, 2010 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Did anyone smell that troll from earlier?

Posted by: Doug W on April 5, 2010 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK
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