Reportedly, a group of key Republicans is exerting pressure on Michael Steele, the Republican National Committee's first African-American chairman, to step down when his controversial term ends this January. Still, despite a long string of gaffes and questions about his fiscal stewardship, Steele's chairmanship coincided with a historic turnaround in the party's electoral fortunes. Will that bolster Steele's support, or will the party's goal of ousting President Obama in 2012 send it scrambling for a stronger RNC chief?
Steele's gone — his Tea Party alliance was the final straw: Steele's fundraising woes are certainly "seen as a liability" in the push to defeat Obama, says Nsenga Burton in The Root. But his inevitable ousting will be about more than that. Steele spent the build-up to the elections "getting in bed with the Tea Party," which only irritated the Republican establishment and "the chickens may be coming home to roost."
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
Success has solidified his position: If party bigwigs thought they could "marginalize Steele," it hasn't worked, says Frank James at NPR, "at least not in his own mind." After last week's big Republican victory, "Steele clearly feels he has earned some bragging rights and intends to use them." This may give "Steele haters more to hate," but it's hard for his opponents to argue with success.
The GOP hasn't found an alternative: Though Steele is standing on "very treacherous political ground," says Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post, he "remains the frontrunner" to keep his job. Republicans don't really have a "credible alternative" lined up, and even Steele's "most ardent opponents acknowledge that he is held in higher regard by the 168 RNC members than he is by the general GOP political class."
Create an account with the same email registered to your subscription to unlock access.