Steele said he is in stage two of a two-stage process to reform and transform the Republican Party. He won't reveal details, because, "The mice who are scurrying about the Hill are upset because they no longer have access to the cheese, so they don't know what's going on." He says his process has been "insular" because he doesn't want people "pontificating" on his decisions or second-guessing them before they are made.
Barack Obama talked during the campaign, and since becoming president, of the need for a new bipartisanship. Does Steele believe he is serious?
"No! Having a photo-op with a bunch of Republicans, inviting them to have a beer with you, or watch a football game is great theater, but when you don't take our suggestions seriously, when you don't respect our staffs and involve them in the vetting process; when you don't confer with the minority party ... you're not serious about bipartisanship."
Didn't Republicans when they ran Congress do to Democrats what Democrats are now doing to Republicans? "Right," Steele admits, "and everyone (then) clamored for bipartisanship. Did they get it? No."
Steele believes bipartisanship "is a fiction of politics. It's an idea people work toward, but the reality is something else..."
Steele thinks White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is "running the entire government," noting he is not known for bipartisanship, but for slash-and-burn politics.
Asked where President Obama is weak, since his poll numbers remain in the high 60s, Steele responded, "Everywhere when he puts his policies on the table."
That alleged weakness hasn't yet sunk in with voters, but Michael Steele believes it will soon. First, though, there is that small matter of an extreme makeover for the GOP. Perhaps another film title might serve as a guide for Republicans and where they need to go: "Back to the Future."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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