So much trouble on my mind, I refuse to lose: RNC Chairman Michael S. Steele should streamline the rhetorical flourishes and focus on keeping the party together instead of threatening wayward members. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
Okay, so this silliness has gone on long enough. I remain a supporter of Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele, but he's already had a couple of mis-steps in his new role.
For the time being, let’s just point out two course corrections Chairman Steele might want to adopt:
1) While it's cool to be hip, it's also hip to be square. Put it another way, stop trying so hard to be the super-cool Brother From Another Planet.Going after the hip-hop generation is fine, but you don't have to go overboard and drop slang every other moment. This sort of language is better if it’s just used to "season" a meal rather than making it the main course. Obama comes across preternaturally "cool" because he moves back and forth between soaring King-like formulations, regular conversational speech – and then tossing in a little hip-hop for spice (like the Jay-Z "dirt off your shoulders"). Going 21st century Ebonics would have – and will – get old real fast.
But, in particular, don't get drawn into stupid radio shows with stupid hosts who bait you into the making stupid remarks like sending "slum love" to the GOP's "slumdog millionaire, governor" Bobby Jindal.
Just. Don't. Go. There.
(As a practical measure, this sort of slang also encourages people who have no business using it. Case in point: Rep. Michele "You be da man" Bachmann.)
2) The Chairman should embody Reagan's Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican. Practically, that means avoiding threatening incumbent members who happen to vote for a bill that other Republicans oppose.
Previous Republican national and campaign committee chairs have made the opposite mistake: Going to the mattresses in support of incumbents – like Arlen Specter in 2004 and Lincoln Chafee in 2006 -- challenged in primaries. If a primary race develops, let the locals battle it out. The party shouldn't get involved (unless there are special circumstances).
It shouldn’t be the chairman's decision as to who is or is not a good "Republican." It's not like he’s got a great luxury of excess elected members right now.