- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 25, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The trash talking has started. The rumor mill is buzzing - about who The Washington Times’ editors and reporters last week, Mr. Steele was blunt when he said about the Party’s minority outreach, “They don’t give a damn.”

That and other “questionable” remarks apparently haven’t played well with some of the party faithful (the 168 members whose votes he needs) and some of those clamoring for the same top spot. Some of the chatter can be chalked up to routine party positioning. But other suggestions, such as Mr. Steele not being really pro-life, are false. Those who need clarification should go straight to the horse’s mouth.

What Mr. Steele points out is exactly what is and has been wrong with the Republican Party for some time - save for the gains made from 2000-2005. Like it or not, if the party “faithful” can’t wake up to certain realities (like why it lost so many Hispanic voters, why some minorities within the party are disgruntled and why it lost its majority in 2006), then it may not be ready for a transformational leader, whether it’s Mr. Steele or someone else.

Some members seem to have been put off by Mr. Steele’s apparent “presumptuousness” in making his case for chairman before the national media in lieu of the membership. The fact that Mr. Steele enjoys a platform with the national press is a strength that appeals to donors. He tried to become chairman “their way” in 2007 - to no avail.

Sure, there are other candidates aside from Mr. Steele and some may be more qualified.

There have been suggestions of a former governor such as Tina Benkiser. These are party diehards who’ve worked within the apparatus for years, rubbed elbows with the grassroots and know the lay of the land.

Yet, according to national committee members with whom we spoke, some are stirring the pot with unfounded attacks against Mr. Steele, who is a former state party chairman, Maryland lieutenant governor, U.S. Senate candidate and now chairman of the grassroots organization GOPAC. Mr. Steele told our editors that he is not amused by the mischaracterizations.

Unless they have a better alternative, Republicans who are questioning Mr. Steele’s credentials need to ask themselves why they find him so “threatening” and let his actual words speak for themselves.

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