Monday's furor over the RNC's nearly $2,000 reimbursement for a tab at a bondage-themed nightclub has given way to debate about its impact. The RNC has named Erik Brown as the man who accompanied young donors to the club and was reimbursed for the expense, and has now fired the staffer. Though Wonkette offers some evidence against this narrative--at least as it pertains to Brown--most are accepting the RNC statement. But even if much-maligned RNC chairman Michael Steele wasn't directly involved with the fiasco, as some had originally thought, isn't this still the sort of thing to make donors and party members sweat? As it turns out: yes. How bad is it? That's a matter of debate.
- The RNC Only Has Two Things to Do, points out the MSNBC First Read team: "money and message." This scandal isn't a big deal in and of itself, but when you've only got two jobs and you mismanage both, that's not good. The ill-spent money also "brings attention to what has been lackluster fundraising."
- This Isn't Easily Excusable "There was clearly some sloppiness to the [Daily Caller] story," says the National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez, hearkening back to a great deal of criticism about the original bit of reporting, "but $1,900 at a place named 'Voyeur' cannot--and should not--be explained away as a mere accounting goof. It's a matter of good stewardship on more than one level." She posts some questions from Penny Nance from Concerned Women for America: "Why would a staffer believe that this is acceptable, and has this kind of thing been approved in the past?" Another reader thinks an explanation is due to "anyone who has given a dime to the RNC."
- Ditto That "Think of it this way," says Politico's Mike Allen: "What's the chance that your employer would reimburse you for a tab from a place called 'Voyeur'?"
- Well, the Expenses Were Listed as 'Meals,' points out Daniel Foster, another National Review writer. "Of course, anyone familiar with West Hollywood could probably guess that a place called 'Voyeur' located within its limits is probably not a charming little bistro. But--and this is just a hunch--I doubt any of the RNC functionaries in charge of rubber-stamping these expense reports are familiar with the establishment."
- Liberals, at Least, Should Stop Gloating At True/Slant, Michael Roston sees this story as part of an ongoing "effort to oust Steele." He agrees that this story shows some pretty impressive mismanagement on the RNC chairman's part.
But let's not dance too freely in his troubles. Because the people who are working overtime to force him out aren’t doing it because they want to make a cleaner RNC. They're doing it because they want to be able to take the gloves off and craft a deeply retrograde conservative narrative that they see Steele as obstructing. And that’s not a prospect that I relish.