and more, I find myself wondering if Michael Steele's tenure at the RNC is actually a rather involved ploy to combat the perception that Republicans are manipulative, evil, rigorously planned, hyper-disciplined political masterminds. It's tough to explain this level of ineptitude any other way. From Politico:
GOP leaders, in a private meeting last month, delivered a blunt and at times heated message to RNC Chairman Michael Steele: quit meddling in policy.
The plea was made during what was supposed to be a routine discussion about polling matters and other priorities in House Minority Leader John Boehner's office. But the session devolved into a heated discussion about the roles of congressional leadership and Steele, according to multiple people familiar with the meeting.
The congressional leaders were particularly miffed that Steele had in late August unveiled a seniors' "health care bill of rights" without consulting with them. The statement of health care principles, outlined in a Washington Post op-ed, began with a robust defense of Medicare that puzzled some in a party not known for its attachment to entitlements.
So the chairman of the RNC ran a major, message-framing op-ed with significant policy implications in the Washington Post and didn't bother to tell party leadership in advance? Classy. Very classy. And this comes after the health-care conference in which, pressed for details, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't do policy." Now we know why!
Granted, it's somewhat hard to believe that Republican leadership really didn't know Steele's Medicare campaign was coming. This could simply be a well-placed leak designed by GOP leadership to distance themselves from the RNC's gravy-brained defense of Medicare. But the fact that this got out suggests that Republicans in Congress are growing increasingly tired of Steele's clueless, pandering shtick -- and are ready for Steele to back off so they can safely engage in a clueless, pandering shtick of their own design.