Instead of speaking ill of the dead (God knows enough already are today), I thought I’d discuss a live person’s association with someone recently departed.
It seems you cannot turn on MSNBC without seeing Michael Steele these days, yakking it up with various hosts, often paired with others like Charlie Sykes, from the network’s sizable stable of conservatives who want you to believe history began in 2015 or 2016 when Donald Trump’s crudity became too much for them. Of course, they helped create and build up Trump’s base for 30 years before that, joining at the hip with Fox News and of course, Rush Limbaugh.
Michael is quite a charming and amiable guy, with good TV presence and (now) the correct measure of outrage against Trump and the fascists.
But today, let’s go back 12 years, to very early in the Obama administration in March 2009, when Steele dared to step off the true path and criticize Rush as “incendiary.” Quoting Politico from that time, the great Driftglass recently wrote, Michael Steele: Accountability for thee and not for me.*
Steele to Rush: I’m sorry
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says he has reached out to Rush Limbaugh to tell him he meant no offense when he referred to the popular conservative radio host as an “entertainer” whose show can be “incendiary.”
“My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh,” Steele said in a telephone interview. “I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. … There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.”…
In the interview with Politico, Steele called Limbaugh “a very valuable conservative voice for our party.”
“He brings a very important message to the American people to wake up and pay attention to what the administration is doing,” Steele said. “Number two, there are those out there who want to look at what he’s saying as incendiary and divisive and ugly. That’s what I was trying to say. It didn’t come out that way. … He does what he does best, which is provoke: He provokes thought, he provokes the left. And they’re clearly the ones who are most excited about him.”…
The timing is key. In March 2009, the Tea Party was revving up its rebranding of Republicanism from the Bush years, waving “Don’t Tread on me” flags, wearing the tricorner hat, and trumpeting to all their only honest concerns were the deficit and screwing defaulted mortgagors.
Oh, and death panels.
Some dared say they were racist, expressing their dismay at Barack Obama’s election. So who better to allay the fears of the media and “independents” than having an African American head of the RNC, Michael Steele? And it worked fantastically in the 2010 “Tea Party” midterms — leading to the gerrymandering skewing politics so badly to this day.
Except Michael Steele has revised that history to say he cleansed the party of racism.
When I took over the party in 2009 it was very very important for me to approach where we were based on where we had come from. We had come from a place where the party had lost uh in 2008 lost in 2006 and we had to understand why the par… why the party was being rejected. So you have to begin with the “mea culpa”. You have to begin with owning the losses. Owning the carnage that you’ve left behind,
This stands history on its head. The timing alone shows the lie. The GOP was rejected in 2006 and 2008 because of George W. Bush and his gigantic failures. It succeeded under Steele in 2010 because it embraced the barely disguised racism of the Tea Party.
Look, I don’t expect Michael Steele or the rest of the Lincolns to do a mea culpa now, to beg forgiveness for creating the monster that voted for Trump. (Driftglass does, in one of the only things on which we disagree.)
But don’t lie about your role either.
*Driftglass has been outrageously and unjustly banned for life from Twitter. Please visit his Blog and listen to his great podcast, The Professional Left with his wife, @bluegal please reinstate @mr_electrico. You won’t regret it.