Calls to "move on" from the recent Steele controversies have gone unheeded by the liberal press, and many participants quietly voice concerns about his very-public appearance here today. Steele simply isn't the man of the hour in the GOP or outside of it.
But this afternoon he will have his hour, at the SLRC convention in New Orleans. He will probably defend himself, but he might just duck the entire issue. After all, the quickest way to quash controversy is to ignore it. If he's smart, he'll deliver a speech that takes the focus off of him, whether that be an apologetic presentation or a defensive one. For the sake of the GOP, I hope he isn't too blustering.
No matter what the content, Steele's speech will be smooth as butter. He's a pro at public communication (though perhaps not institutional management) and still enjoys a following among the attendees here. This isn’t CPAC or a Tea Party, and if he’s going to have a sympathetic audience anywhere, it’s going to be here. Rumors of Steele not being able to fill a reception hall on Saturday night are circulating, but his presence in the hotel foyer this morning invited a legion of lackeys to surround him. Clearly, none of the admirers were Republican National Committee members, who have voiced their quiet opposition to him again and again.
Haley Barbour, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul are among the other speakers.
Steele isn't being ousted by the RNC, but he is on the rebound from a really bad relationship. That relationship is with just about everyone except his two-and-a-half supporters inside the organization itself.