Jacob Heilbrunn

Goodbye, Michael Steele

Perhaps the most one can say for RNC chairman Michael Steele, who looks set to lose his post, is that he didn't prevent the GOP from reclaiming the House. His biggest event seems to have been going on an extended "Fire Pelosi Bus Tour," which he chronicled on his rather leaden blog. By the time November 2 rolled around, the GOP was ready to topple Steele as well as the Democrats.

In many ways, he did his best to trip up the GOP, with his goofy comments (though he did coin the slogan "Drill, baby, drill" at the 2008 Republican convention) and zeal for collecting big bucks for the speeches he gave to groups around the country. Meanwhile, the RNC itself spent money like water--it's 20 million in debt. Steele, you could say, wasn't steeled for combat.

Talking Points Memo has even collected Steele's most notable remarks over the past few years. He came in promising to create a hip-hop friendly GOP. TPM remarks, "All in all, he sounded a lot like a middle-aged man trying to sound cool for his kids -- and failing miserably."At another point he said abortion was a matter of choice at the state level.

Now comes the revenge. But is electing a guy to head the RNC named Reince Priebus, a former ally of Steele's, going to be any better? What kind of a name is that? It almost sounds like Prius. Priebus is promising to restore fiscal order at the RNC whose finances seem almost as catastrophic as the federal government's.

If Priebus wants to seize on an issue he ought to look at Washington, DC itself, where the chief advocate of raising taxes on those making more than $250,000, one Michael Brown, who lives in a $1.4 million home in Chevy Chase, turns out to be, as the Washington Post reports today, a serial tax scofflaw, in arrears to the DC government for failing to pay his property taxes. The Post says,

Despite the controversy, Brown said he will not let questions about his personal finances or taxes get in the way of pushing ahead with his proposals to raise taxes on the wealthy to try to prevent deep cuts to social service programs. "I will continue to be the chief advocate," he said. "One thing has nothing to do with the other.'"

In fact, it looks as though a number of council members have gotten into hot water on the issue of paying taxes.

Still, even if a new order looms at the RNC, Steele has to get some points for his amazing tenacity, either out of sheer obtusness or grit. It's surprising that he made it through an entire term. And despite a chorus of condemnations from inside the party, he went for a second term. But before the GOP celebrates his ouster, it might ponder this question: Is the volatile Steele even more dangerous outside the tent than inside it?