I'm not calling for Michael Steele to resign...yet. Even Democrats don't want that, but for far different reasons. The truth is, he can't resign. Not now. In some twisted way, the Party needs Michael Steele, if anything just to bounce back and prove his opponents wrong; that he's not the village idiot many would have him to be. If past is prologue, that's asking a lot.
Perhaps the staff shakeup earlier last week was a step in the right direction. Given the absurdity of some of Steele’s public announcements, it couldn't hurt to bring in some seasoned professionals. But the root problem lies not with Steele’s staff—it is with Steele himself. Ousting the organization's chief of staff won't matter in the grand scheme. He wasn't running the RNC in the first place. I've said it before: the quickest way to return to "golden child" status is simply to win, baby. And win big. The chairman silenced his critics immediately following seismic gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey, up until the time where he nagged reporters for not giving him enough credit.
So the 4-step Steele recovery program begins today, and it starts with the following:
Go dark. Yes, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Chairman Steele has clearly become a lightning rod for the media and Democrats, no matter how good his talking points. So the party head should just turn off the television and stay away from the cameras. That frees him up for step #2:
Use his position for good. Remarkably, old guard leaders such as Newt Gingrich see the folly of intra-party fighting this close to November. So Steele should tap into those last vestiges of support and recruit these luminaries to help him do his most important job - raise money. Irrespective of the power Steele wields, he still holds authority, and he should use that authority to appeal to every party lieutenant for the good of the entire GOP cause - defeating government run amok. Even though he's weak, the movement is strong, and Steele would do well to leverage that.
Look down, not up. Similarly, Steele should appeal to his counterparts at the state and precinct levels, recognizing they have their own goals this close to Election Day. When they're winning, Steele's team is winning, allowing him to bank political capital he desperately needs. This also applies to his predecessors such as Mike Duncan and Ed Gillespie. They've already begun an impressive fundraising drive of their own, principally out of anxiety for Steele's missteps. Find a way to fold that effort back into the party apparatus.
Reach out to elected leaders. There's no love lost over the GOP chairman among House and Senate Republican leaders. But Steele can't do his job effectively unless and until he works to change that. Build credibility by starting with the governors. Yes, he may need to fly to Mississippi and break bread with Gov. Haley Barbour, but if that's the first move toward party detente, Steele must take it.
Once again, a Reagan axiom rings true - There's no limit to what a man can do if he doesn't mind who gets the credit. Michael Steele should have that quote tattooed on his hip-hop arm. His political future depends on it.
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