Why Do Republican Money-Bosses Hate Michael Steele's Success?

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Dec. 15 2010 11:37 PM

Why Do Republican Money-Bosses Hate Michael Steele's Success?

Two years ago, with the Democratic Party firmly in control of both houses of Congress and Barack Obama preparing for his inauguration after a landslide presidential victory, Michael Steele put himself forward as a candidate to lead the


Republican Party.

In November, in the midterm capping Steele's two-year term as chairman of the Republican National Committee, the party

to claim the majority in the House of Representatives and made big gains in the Senate. Republicans were triumphant

So what's happening now that Steele has announced he wants to


Some of the Republican Party’s most prominent donors reacted Tuesday with shock — and then fury — to Michael Steele’s decision to seek re-election, bluntly warning that they would not raise money for the party if the controversial chairman wins another term.

None of the contributors has a vote on the committee, but with worries about the debt-ridden party’s finances hanging over Steele, the unambiguous threats could further undermine the incumbent’s already-dim prospects for victory.

Sure, the committee's

, and there was that thing with party money being spent at a "

" topless club, and Steele has been criticized as a reckless,

who is chronically incapable of


. And

was an insubordinate hothead who ran a loose ship, and that's why the Philadelphia Eagles ended up being coached by


It's not as if the Republicans didn't know Steele was a bumptious

when they picked him. He was all hat and no cattle, and the hat was just a little propeller beanie that said "Former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland" on it. I leave it to the Republicans to explain exactly what qualifications they thought he had, back in the winter of 2008, to run any sort of major national organization.

Nevertheless, now he's a winner. Surely the GOP doesn't mean to imply that its gains in the midterms were a structural

, rather than an endorsement of the party's strong message and organized leadership, does it? Or is the Republican National Committee actually unnecessary in the age of unrestricted monetary free speech by independent groups? (And if so, who cares who runs it?)

Politico's account of the Republican movement against Steele spells out the nature of the opposition:

a top Washington lobbyist and bundler....a longtime GOP contributor in Florida who did two separate stints as RNC finance chairman in President Bush’s first term....top donors, who can collect big checks and don’t require the overhead costs that go into raising low-dollar contributions..."There’s a concern about him stepping up the pace on fundraising"....Reviled by the GOP’s consultant and operative class....

It sounds like a Tea Party flier. Do these people think they would have pulled off an even more successful irate-populist campaign with

—or some fat, white, rich guy—as their public face?

Maybe a desperate, overmatched Michael Steele was just what a desperate, overmatched nation wanted to see from the Republicans. Here was a man who actually, palpably wanted—needed—his job. No wonder the checkbook crowd wants to cut him off.

Tom Scocca is the managing editor of Deadspin and the author of Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future.


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