Is Michael Steele Playing the Race Card?

The beleaguered RNC chair tries a new strategy

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RNC Chair Michael Steele has lately drawn fire from every direction for spatting with fellow Republicans, splurging RNC money, and myriad other mini-scandals. But now Steele has brought race into it. When asked by Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos if he has a "slimmer margin for error" because of his race, he replied, "The honest answer is yes. It just is. Barack Obama has a slimmer margin ... That’s just the reality of it."

  • So Much For 'I Don't Play the Race Card'  The Washington Post's Greg Sargent chuckles, "Flashback: Steele Said He Doesn’t Play 'Race Game,' Claimed Dems Do." Sargent reproduces some choice 2009 quotes of Steele accusing Democrats of using their race a political crutch. Sargent writes, "Who, precisely, does Steele think gives him less room for error because of his race? Seems like there are only two possibilities here: He’s either talking about the media, or about fellow Republicans."
  • Steele's Race Gives Him Wider Margin of Error  The Atlantic's Joshua Green gets real. "Michael Steele has plenty of problems, but his race isn't one of them. Steele is hapless, solipsistic, and incompetent," he writes. "Far from being a problem, his race is all that's standing between Steele and a pink slip. The GOP, on the other hand, does have a race problem. It won't fire Michael Steele because he is black."
  • GOP Race Plan Backfires  The Guardian's Michael Tomasky suspects that Republicans only nominated him RNC chair because he was black, hoping to counterbalance Barack Obama's strong political appeal to minorities. "Let's face it, they decided that with a black Democratic president in the White House, they ought to go ahead and choose a black chairman to show America that they were 'diverse' too," he writes. "He's one strange dude. The Republicans elevated him for transparent reasons with foreknowledge of all this."
  • Steele Is Right  Conservative blogger Dan Riehl fumes, "To suggest that what Steele said isn't still accurate in significant portions of America is a denial and refusal to engage in the type of frank discussion of race which may ultimately be required to put an end to racism in America for good." He writes, "Steele didn't lead with the race card. He responded honestly to a question when it was asked. Since when in America has it become a good idea to lynch someone for simply doing that?"
  • Race and Scandal  Reason's Matt Welch disdains White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs's quip that "I think Michael Steele's problem isn't the race card, it's the credit card." Welch writes, "Steele is doing himself no favors by bringing race into a discussion about corruption and strip clubs; and the White House continues to (both wisely and accurately, in my judgment) downplay the racial element in modern politics. I have no doubt that Obama's supporters will not, in this case, follow the president's lead."
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