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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Michael Steele's bad idea

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Michael Steele was still giving speeches at $20,000 a pop while serving as chairman of the RNC. It is, apparently, unprecedented for a party chair to keep charging for speeches although many chairman have held down other jobs while chairman. For example, Tim Kaine, the DNC chair is still governor of Virginia.

It's still a bad idea. Steele was chosen because he was billed as a charismatic speaker who could articulate the party's message and perhaps bring in some new people. I've heard him in public once at a symposium with Harold Ford and I was very impressed with him. Despite his several gaffes since he took over, I still hold out hope that he will fulfill the promise for which he was chosen. But part of his job is giving speeches. He should be all over the place trying to whip up the faithful, fund-raising, and inspiring new Republicans. That task would be diluted if sometimes he's charging for those speeches. To keep that $20,000 price, he has an interest in limiting his appearances. And if he doesn't, then there are uncomfortable questions about whether those fees are for something other than a well-delivered speech. After all, why would an organization pay him to give a speech when he's already all over giving speeches regularly?

He'll have plenty of opportunities to make the big bucks on speeches after this year's election if the Republicans do well. Let him focus on his main job and consider it a personal investment in his price tag for future speeches.


bondwooley said...

It's a little easier to understand Michael Steele when you know who's coaching him:


Bachbone said...

I was never impressed with the choice of Steele, his immediate foot-in-the mouth criticisms of conservative talk radio or his tendency to mirror the same addle-brained attitudes the so-called GOP leadership has displayed for years. My impression is he's simply another political animal who will say anything to get anyone with an "R" behind their name elected - witness the hundreds of thousands he pumped into the Dede Scozzafava campaign - when what we want and need are conservatives, not RINOs.

Freeven said...

I have to admit to not caring much what Michael Steele does. If he "was chosen because he was billed as a charismatic speaker who could articulate the party's message" I'd have expected the party to do better. I've never found him all that charismatic, nor has he impressed me as being able to articulate a consistently conservative message. He seems more interested in politics over principle -- and I guess one could argue that that's his job description, but he doesn't seem all that effective at either.

I've become increasingly disenchanted with the Republican party, and Steele strikes me as just the latest figurehead of the gang that couldn't shoot straight. If people are willing to pay him $20K a pop to give speeches, more power to him, but I think their money could be better spent.