The Times notes the “disappointment” to moderates hoping that the Republican Party would move to the center. If the Times were in touch with any real conservatives (not surprised that they aren't), they would know this isn’t true. And, in fact, Steele is by no means an extreme right winger, supporting affirmative action and opposing the death penalty among other moderate positions.
At the same time, I’ve seen several articles suggesting that the only reason Steele was able to win this position is because of Barack Obama. From The Root:
Oh, what a difference a black president can make. If there was any doubt that President Barack Obama's victory last November had completely transformed American politics, affirmation came Friday when Republicans—for the first time—elected a black man to chair their national party.
Steele has been a favorite among many Republicans for several years and was chosen as the best man for the job. To attribute his election to Obama is to discount his deserving abilities to do the job well. Certainly, it is helpful in reaching out to minorities but I am tired of people assigning race as a reason to do anything.