Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I Was Inarticulate

What ever slim chance Michael Steele had of recruiting young people and minorities to the Republican Party went out the window after Mr. Steele had to bow down and kiss the ring of Conservative “entertainer” Rush Limbaugh. Mr. Steele displayed all of the qualities that are despised by both groups when on Saturday night while trying to pal it up with D.L. Hughley he accused Rush Limbaugh of not being the head of the Republican Party and merely an incendiary entertainer. Just when it appeared that a Republican had the nerve to tell the truth to the ego maniacal Limbaugh and thus freeing the Party from extremists Mr. Steele within hours was prone before Limbaugh begging forgiveness as so many other so-called Republican leaders have had to do.

Newsflash – Rush Limbaugh you are an entertainer, you cater to a certain segment of the population who believes in your extreme characterizations and your simplistic analogies of complex issues. Here is the problem for the Republican Party, while the millions that Limbaugh holds sway over is enough to promote a radio show and enrich his pockets it is not enough to win elections. How can you reach out and expand the Party when you have to sell your soul to Limbaugh to hang on to the dwindling base? While the Republicans continue to await the second coming of Reagan the Democrats continue to shore up solid gains among Independents and moderate Republicans. Rather than recognizing the influence he has and using it for a real Republican examination of the state of the Party and the nation Mr. Limbaugh would rather use it to enrich himself and stoke his massive ego.

This is the problem when you allow a “personality” to dominate a Party there is always the chance that the personality will begin to believe that he is the Party. If Rush was an elected official he would have his time in the sun and then fade away, but because he is an entertainer he can stay around for years and years without having to be right about anything. He is like the local weatherman he can be wrong 70% of the time and still be popular. Mr. Limbaugh can ignore all of those shows he did in support of the same spending and policies he now rails against when George W. Bush was in office. Limbaugh can have the best of both worlds he can say he was right on this issue or that and ignore all of the times he was wrong. He is like Carnac the Magnificent except he is a lot less funny.

The reason the Republicans can’t have a serious debate is that too many of them genuinely believe that they were right on all of the majority issues and that the vast majority of Americans are too stupid to know it. It is hard to base a winning strategy on we’re right and you’re stupid. The way you expand a Party is not by catering to a shrinking base you already have with more of the same rhetoric that was rejected resoundingly by the majority of Americans. I am not sure what polls these guys are reading but I heard Tom Delay say that the Presidents disapproval rating is at 40%. It is precisely this “alternate reality” that got the Republicans in the position they find themselves today. If we say something enough times to enough people then somehow it becomes true. The American public is becoming more politically savvy than they were in the 80’s and 90’s and the Republicans are failing to accept that reality. Twittering does not make you cool or technologically proficient. The issue is not how you deliver it, the issue is the message. It is the message stupid and right now the Republicans have none. They keep talking about all of these alternative plans and ideas they have and have offered yet no one other than them has seen them. Railing against the government and crying class warfare are not plans and ideas and while they may resonate with the “states rights” groups and the apocalyptic crowds they do not represent what many Americans believe.

Mr. Steele, the groups you claim to want to reach out to respect manhood and strength. What chance do you now see yourself as having after being “bitch” slapped by Rush Limbaugh? Having middle-aged white women calling “you da man” at an all-white country club is not cool and shows a certain callousness towards those you hope to reach. Mr. Steele being cool is not something you buy or something you can steal from someone like trying to co-opt slang for marketing purposes. It is an attitude, a feeling inside that says I know who I am and what I represent, you may not agree with it but here it is. Being cool is a quiet confidence that gives confidence to others. Right now Mr. Steele you represent the desperateness of the Republicans in that you are willing to say whatever you need to say depending on your audience. Mr. Steele you will never be the leader of anything until you stop being the “cool” black dude that you are not. It is easy to think you are the cool black dude when you are the only black dude in the room or the other black dude is Ron Christie or Clarence Thomas.

The other problem is the choice of words used by Mr. Steele during his apology. It is an historical fact that when whites want to give a complement to a black person they admire the first word out of their mouth is how articulate that person is. “He speaks so well.” So by Mr. Steele saying that he in fact was not articulate he is saying that the black dude was wrong, that he did not live up to the “articulate” complement of his benefactors. For many I am sure it will be similar to all of those whites who rented cars from Hertz felt after the OJ trial; sort of betrayed. I guess it is like Limbaugh said, “Get behind the scenes and don’t talk with the grown-ups, you’re not qualified.” I guess to Limbaugh Michael Steele is the epitome of Republican affirmative action, another unqualified black promoted because of race and not qualifications.

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