Now must be a hard time to be an idiot in the American press. You go to all the trouble of writing a book that says the party whose national committee you chair isn’t ready to lead, get yourself on Hannity and make a bunch of invidious comparisons, then wrap up your remarks with an old-timey ethnic slur, only to be bumped from the national snarklight by Sarah Palin. You just can’t compete with that bitch. It seems like every time a prominent political figure does something stupid, Sarah Palin jumps in and yells that FDR faked polio so he could sit down all the time or whatever. Sometimes it feels like the incompetence of major political figures exceeds demand, and guys like Michael Steele—who would be saying crazy shit at Wisconsin Right To Life rallies in any other incompetence economy—are forced to practice their art in obscurity. Poor Michael Steele. When it comes to being a complete jerkoff, he’s Salieri to Palin’s Mozart.
He’s a hard worker, though—I’ll give him that. The RNC chairman has been making the rounds to promote his new book, Right Now, which articulates five conservative principles to which the Republican Party must recommit itself if it wants to regain control of Washington. I’m just guessing here, but I bet one of them is “freedom.” An actual list of the principles turns out to be impossible to find on the internet, because every article related to his book focuses on the absurd blunders Steele managed to commit while promoting it. Steele’s appearance on Hannity coincided with the revelation of Harry Reid’s ill-advised remarks about then-candidate Barack Obama—a revelation that appeared in Game Change, the new book about the 2008 election that has drawn renewed attention to…Sarah Palin. God. Dammit.
According to Game Change, Reid said in 2008 that Obama had a shot at becoming the first black President because he was “light-skinned” and spoke “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” That assessment turned out to be A) right and B) stupid, since it’s given the right an opportunity to call for Reid’s resignation. In the grand scheme of racial slurs, “negro” is minor at best—it’s the one you hope your grandfather sticks to when you take him to Olive Garden—and Reid’s comment seems more like an assessment of the country’s racism than a frank admission of his own. Still, that hasn’t stopped Steele, who as the first black Republican since 1948 immediately took it upon himself to cry double standard. “There is this standard where Democrats feel that they can say these things and they can apologize when it comes from the mouths of their own,” he said. “But if it comes from anyone else, it is racism.”
The “anyone else” to whom he was referring is Trent Lott, who, at a birthday party for Strom Thurmond in 2002 (six hundred sixty-six more years!) opined that the country wouldn’t have “all these problems” if Thurmond had been elected President back in 1948. Thurmond ran on the platform “Segregation Forever,” which in retrospect was pretty uncool. Do you see the parallel? Saying the nation’s problems are attributable to racial integration is exactly like pointing out that a black man stands a better chance of becoming President if he doesn’t talk like Ike Turner. The similarities don’t stop there, either: Democrats rebuked Lott’s remarks, and the then-unemployed Al Gore went so far as to demand that Lott apologize or face Senatorial censure. Can you believe it? Yet, when a Democrat says something like that and then apologizes, all that happens is the Republicans call for his immediate resignation.
But Michael Steel didn’t go on Hannity to talk about the endemic racism of the Democratic Party. He went on there to promote his book, and the dynamite plan the RNC has for taking back the country. “Our platform is one of the best political documents that’s been written in the last 25 years,” he said. “Honest injun on that.” Check and mate, Sarah Palin. You think you can go on TV and say a bunch of nonsensical shit? Michael Steele winds up his criticisms of a man who said “negro” by saying “honest Injun.” You can’t learn that kind of talent. It’s just something you’re born with.
Like any great artist, though, Michael Steele is not recognized as a genius in his own time. He is Henry James to Sarah Palin’s William Dean Howells, crafting gems for a public trained to love sequins. History will vindicate him, however. As the scholar put it, Henry James went to Europe and wrote brilliant novels; William Dean Howells stayed in America and wrote to Henry James. Perhaps they’d appreciate you in France, Michael Steele. They’re the ones who understand Jerry Lewis, after all. Or maybe the Russian sensibility is better equipped to appreciate your work. Anywhere would be better than here, really, for a rare butterfly like Michael Steele. Everyone here at Combat! blog wishes you a swift journey.