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March 18, 2009

The symbolism of Michael Steele's new job

Writing in The Hill’s online publication, Texas Republican polling company owner David R. Hill said the symbolic value of Michael Steele’s selection as Republican National Committee chairman has proven to be of limited value in the early weeks of Steele’s tenure, and that Steele's success will rest on substance.

“While Michael Steele seems like a good and decent man, worthy of respect and honor, we have to be frank and admit that his selection was driven by symbolism,” Hill writes. “Like African-Americans who have fallen into the trap of one-party politics, Republicans have wandered into an ambush of one-upmanship on race. The Democrats gave you a black president; we’ll give you a black party chairman. Michael Steele didn’t have the most party administrative experience. He didn’t have the coolest technology plan. He didn’t even necessarily have the best story to tell about why he’s a Republican. Yet we chose him, because we wanted to send a symbolic message about race.”

Hill continues: “Eventually, Steele will be a fine chairman. He’s doing a thorough job of evaluating the party’s bureaucratic structures. And he’s welcoming new faces into that process. These are hopeful first steps that will doubtless be followed by others. He clearly wants to succeed and has the skills to do so. But it’s a little ugly in the unfolding. And when all is said and done, Steele will succeed on substantive issues rather than symbolic imagery. Centrists, liberals and minorities are not going to be fooled into rethinking our party just because we have a black chairman. It’ll actually take some substantive shifts to successfully woo any of those votes to our side.”

Hill concludes that Republicans should be “leaving symbolic politics to the Democrats." To read the full piece, click here.

Posted by David Nitkin at 12:57 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Michael Steele


Has anyone else noticed that for the first time in many years (maybe ever?), Marylanders are, for all intents and purposes in the major positions of partisan power?

Pelosi*, Hoyer, Steele.

I know she represents Cali but she was born and raised here.

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Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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