Anyone who's followed Michael Steele's brief tenure as RNC chair knows it's been characterized by gaffes and intraparty squabbling from the start. But The Washington Times reports on what appears to be the most concrete challenge to his leadership to date:

Randy Pullen, the RNC's elected treasurer, former RNC General Counsel David Norcross and three other former top RNC officers have presented Mr. Steele with a resolution, calling for a new set of checks and balances on the chairman's power to dole out money. The powers include new controls on awarding contracts and spending money on outside legal and other services....

The resolution prompted a top Steele supporter to issue a scathing attack against Mr. Pullen and his allies..."I urge you to reject this hostile attempt to embarrass and neuter the chairman of the RNC," Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus wrote in an e-mail to the 168-member national committee.

Now, I've had as much fun with Steele's flops and foibles as anyone, and I've seen awfully little evidence that he knows what he's doing. But it's only fair to understand his frequent clownishness in the context of the still-more-clownish committee members he's trying to oversee. To whit, the band of jolly conservatives who have put together a resolution--over Steele's opposition--calling upon the Democrats to rename themselves the "Democratic Socialist Party":

“The proposed resolution acknowledges that and calls upon the Democrats to be truthful and honest with the American people by renaming themselves the Democrat Socialist Party,” wrote [James Bopp Jr.], the Republican committeeman from Indiana. “Just as President Reagan’s identification of the Soviet Union as the ‘evil empire’ galvanized opposition to communism, we hope that the accurate depiction of the Democrats as a Socialist Party will galvanize opposition to their march to socialism.”

Hasn't Bopp gotten the word from Saul Anunzis? The GOP has already worn out "socialist." Maybe he should try "the Democratic Fascist Party"? Or, if Bopp really wants to turn the public against the Dems, he could call for them to rename themselves "Republicans."

--Christopher Orr