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An Idea That Will Work

The GOP's insistence that its policy platform is perfectly appealing to young people and minorities, and all it has is a "messaging" problem, gets more entertaining by the week:

Newly elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele plans an “off the hook” public relations offensive to attract younger voters, especially blacks and Hispanics, by applying the party's principles to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings.”

The RNC's first black chairman will “surprise everyone” when updating the party's image using the Internet and advertisements on radio, on television and in print, he told The Washington Times....

"We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-surburban hip-hop settings.” 

I look forward to the spectacle of conservative white senators refering to one another as "dawg" while they present capital gains tax cuts as an economic panacea. But Steele isn't limiting his pitch to kids and nonwhites:

[H]e elaborated with a laugh, “we need to uptick our image with everyone, including one-armed midgets.” 

Perhaps most interesting, though, are the suggestions of deep tensions between Steele and others in the party:

At the end of 2006, after Republicans lost their House and Senate majorities, [Karl] Rove nixed a growing movement among RNC members - state Republican Party chairmen and elected national committee members - to elect Mr. Steele as their next chairman.... While other former top Bush White House and campaign officials sent congratulations on his election [in 2009], including former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, Mr. Rove neither phoned nor wrote his congratulations, Mr. Steele told The Times....

Top party officials and officeholders have suggested that Mr. Steele name as deputy chairman someone who can run the national committee's vast operations in fundraising, communications, candidate recruitment and training, and voter identification and targeting. “I can run this organization just fine,” Mr. Steele told The Times. “There will be no deputy chairman, period.”

Still, the talk among some prominent senior Republicans was that Mr. Steele would need someone with “more experience” to provide guidance and organization. Reminded of this, Mr. Steele told The Times: “People who said I can't make the trains run on time never gave a reason. I say to them, 'Stuff it.' .... The idea I am somehow going to handicap myself before I begin is nuts. I am not going to buy into this mind-set among a few people who probably have never run anything but their mouths.”

Steele had better hope that his innovative one-armed-midget strategy pays dividends, because if it doesn't the GOP establishment is going to come down on him like a ton of bricks.

--Christopher Orr