Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has been pretty much wiped off the face of the earth, or at least the face of the party. He wasn’t even invited to the Republican National Convention in Tampa and he is barely mentioned at all these days.
Steele was chairman when the party selected Tampa as the site of its 2012 convention. Steele was chairman when the GOP came roaring back after defeats in 2006 and 2008 to pick up 63 seats to gain control of the House in 2010, and also to gain six seats to greatly strengthen its position in the Senate. In addition, during Steele’s time in office, Republicans won key governorships in New Jersey and Virginia.
But at the University Club, Steele was not only not there; he wasn’t noted or referenced. In public remarks, no one said anything bad about him, and no one said anything good about him. He just didn’t exist.
“I have not been invited to the convention at all,” Steele says. “Their view is, the less we talk about him, we don’t invite him, we ignore him — it just didn’t happen. But those 63 seats in the House did happen. They may want to ignore me, but they don’t want to ignore what I did. It’s just sad.”
“I would have loved to have been there to salute the work of the party and see former chairmen,” Steele adds. “But I guess I’m not a member of that club.”
As it happens, Steele is in Tampa, but only, he says, in his role as an analyst on MSNBC. He won’t be attending any events in his role as former chairman…Whatever bad blood exists privately, it is remarkable that the GOP’s most recent chairman has no role at all in the convention whose planning he initiated. He’s also the man who was in charge when the party won smashing victories in the most recent mid-term elections. And he didn’t gain power in a coup; he was elected chairman by a majority of members of the RNC. Finally, Steele is the party’s only black chairman at a time when Republicans are particularly worried about their continuing difficulties in attracting minority voters. Why not have him play some public role in the convention? And if there are still hard feelings — well, it would hardly be the first time that people who didn’t like each other joined hands and smiled in front of the crowds.
He was pretty much a disaster as RNC chairman, of course, and the idea that he had something to do with the party’s electoral gains in 2010 is rather laughable. But to just write him out of the convention he helped plan? That seems like petty politics at best.