At the Southern Republican Leadership Conference today, Michael Steele, embattled chairman of the Republican National Committee, took to the stage amidst broad dissatisfaction with his stewardship of the party's image and finances. Steele received a standing ovation by a ballroom lightly attended by standards set by speakers Sarah Palin and Ron Paul.
He opened with a reference to recent troubles, saying, "In life you realize you can't please everyone. But you can certainly make them all mad at you at the same time."
In a sober, soft-spoken speech largely focused on American greatness and Republican principles, he fired shots across the White House's bow. He said that President Obama inspired America last year, but did so in the wrong way. That he offered hope without a roadmap, and change without clarifying. And having seen the changes in action, "America says no way. No how." He added, "When America says no, they'd better listen. Just ask Bart Stupak." He earned his second standing ovation answering his own rhetorical question: "How do we get our country back? Fire Nancy Pelosi."
It was difficult this weekend to find members of the GOP rank-and-file eager to defend Steele, though after 31 Republican chairmen signed a letter of support, talk of his possible ouster faded. In his speech, he said, "I'm the first person here to admit I've made mistakes. And its incumbent on me to shoulder those burdens and move on." He closed his address by saying, "If you don't leave this conference with anything else, take this: it's never too late in America." Nor, apparently, in the GOP.
--- D.B. Grady is the author of Red Planet Noir.