Race Is All That's Saving Steele

Republicans don't want to fire their first black leader
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2010 11:51 AM CDT
Race Is All That's Saving Steele
In this photo released by Fox News Sunday, Michael Steele, the Republican Party's national chairman, is interviewed on FOX News Sunday at their studio in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2010.   (AP Photo/FOX News Sunday, Freddie Lee)

Michael Steele is pretty obviously lousy at his job, so why don’t Republicans just fire him? There’s just one reason, argues Gabriel Winant of Salon: race. Steele, you’ll recall, came to power directly after Barack Obama’s election—the Republicans, essentially, wanted their own black guy. Dumping their first African-American chairman looks seriously unpalatable, even if he's causing a donor revolt.

The irony, says Winant, is that their reluctance just shows once again how "painfully tone deaf" the GOP is about race. They thought a black leader who wanted to recruit voters in “urban and suburban hip hop settings” with “fried chicken and potato salad” would actually help them with black voters. Now they fear firing him will hurt them with black voters. It won’t. “Frankly, it couldn’t: Republicans have no black support to lose.” (More Michael Steele stories.)

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