Michael Steele's Splurging Sparks Muted Outrage

It's bad press, but he's had bad press before

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On Tuesday, Politico published an unflattering portrait of RNC chairman Michael Steele's spending habits. Steele apparently splurges on private planes, cars, and consultants while RNC meal-costs have skyrocketed during his tenure. The chairman wasn't particularly popular even before this story: his tendency to commit gaffes, the flopped GOP site launch, and a cringe-worthy book tour have taken their toll on Steele's image. Is this scandal the final nail in his career's coffin?

Not necessarily, if the commentary is any guide. Some of the most prominent conservative blogs--including National Review's The Corner, Michelle Malkin, and Hot Air--have stayed strangely silent on the matter, as of this posting. Though conservative donors are enraged, a few commentators say Steele may weather this storm as well.

  • Fuels 'Doubts About the Party's Fitness'  Paul Mirengoff at right-leaning Power Line is worried: "This development is said be infuriating the party's major donors. Imagine how it will play among members of the Tea Party movement, many of whom already look askance at the Republican party."
  • That's Not All  "It certainly doesn't help," points out liberal Steve Benen of The Washington Monthly, "that Steele is simultaneously using his position to line his own pockets, most notably through his outside paid speeches and a book written in secret." Of course, if Republican fund-raising improves all will be well. "But," says Benen, "if Republican candidates struggle because Steele ran out of money far too early, expect him to be run out of town on a rail before the year's end."
  • Story Irrelevant--He's Untouchable, says The Washington Independent's David Weigel. He explains:
The closer we get to the midterms, the lower the likelihood of Steele's detractors ousting him. He's in somewhat the same position Howard Dean was in 2006, beloved by local Republican groups ... constantly attacked by D.C. party leaders for his inability to meet their fundraising-and-spending goals, but bulletproof because the party's winning.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.