The RNC infighting continues
Trevor Francis, communications director of the Republican National Committee, abruptly resigned Monday, and two Republican strategists familiar with the situation said he was pushed out because Chairman Michael Steele didn’t feel he was getting enough credit for the GOP’s electoral success earlier this month.
Francis had only been in the job since March, and neither he nor the RNC veered from the sort of vague explanations that typically suggest a less-than-amicable political breakup.
RNC spokeswoman Gail Gitcho would only say that Francis was “pursuing other opportunities,” and Francis allowed just that he was “returning to my career in the private sector.”
A former official at public relations giant Burson-Marsteller, Francis was tasked with trying to keep the voluble Steele on message and explaining away the instances when he strayed.
While still occasionally committing gaffes, Steele has become more disciplined in his frequent TV appearances.
But after Republicans won the closely watched gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey this month, Steele expressed frustration that he wasn’t receiving accolades for the party’s success, said the two Republicans, both of whom conveyed frustration with the chairman’s leadership style.
“So the reaction was: Get rid of the communications director,” carped one of the Republicans.
Curt Anderson, a close Steele adviser, denied that Francis was dismissed, calling the claim “silly.”
“That’s not true,” Anderson said. “It was a mutual thing.”
Francis, who previously worked in the Bush administration, had no relationship with Steele before joining the RNC this year and cut a low-profile figure during his brief tenure.
Asked what his plans were, Francis said he was unsure — another sign sure to be interpreted in political circles that he was forced out.
The dispute over Francis reflects a larger battle within the top ranks of the Republican Party. Anderson and Steele allies believe the chairman deserves a share of credit for the party’s resurgence this year, while other activists and officials are frustrated at what they see as the chairman’s penchant for self-promotion and his insular palace guard.
Here's the problem we have with Michael Steele: He took too long to get things in place, and apparently still doesn't have it all in a line within the RNC. He's facing criticism and resistance within the ranks of the leadership of the party. He spent a good deal of time sacking those he felt had no place within the party leadership when he was elected, and constantly fumbled when invited by media outlets to speak.
Does he deserve credit for New Jersey and Virginia? Sure he does. Does that absolve him of his previous mistakes? Not even close. New York's 23rd district race is a prime example of such gaffes. Like Gingrich did, Steele and the RNC openly endorsed Dede Scozzafava as the Republican candidate without really vetting the woman, without looking into the state party bosses and their process of choosing her. When it became public -- her record -- Steele and others sort of attacked the base for questioning her credentials and the party itself.
We're party people. We stand with the Republicans, but only when they stand for conservatism. If they're going to take the Democrat-lite approach to politics, the GOP can wander in the wilderness for all we care. We know of many Republicans that are considering making a switch to distance themselves from a party that appears rudderless right now. It took the NRCC and NRSC over a week before assembling the website information against conservative Democrats in the House that voted for the current health care non-reform legislation. (Let's call it what it is folks -- it's an attempt to federalize the health care/health insurance industry.)
Michael Steele is a good man, and we believed he'd be a sound leader for the RNC. What we're seeing is he's as much a mirror-kisser as some elected members of our party in DC. He wants a pat on the back and the cookie before bed because he helped win two elections. That's great; admirable, even. And while gubernatorial races are important, the midterms are even more important. The base isn't pleased with the Republican party right now because they aren't seeing the leadership they expected.
If Mr. Steele truly wants accolades, then he needs to work harder in seeking out and supporting conservative candidates that challenge not only Democrats, but Republicans that really can't be trusted any longer. That includes Republicans like Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham. (Yes, they're solid fifty percent of the time, but all too often on key issues, these people can't be trusted to stay on the right side of the fence.)
We'll give credit where credit is due. But we're not going to play the lock-step game with the party. That's Democrat mentality, and it makes it difficult for us to be the party of ideas when we have our leaders condemning our opinions on who should and shouldn't be supported. We also shouldn't be criticized by them when we start to point out mistakes being made. We're both in favor of the big tent, but that tent has rules for being inside, and if the RNC isn't going to listen to the base, then they deserve the disdain of the people they continually badger for contributions.
Mr. Steele, you did a commendable job in the two gubernatorial races, but what have you done for us lately, and what do you propose to do in the midterms? The clock is ticking, and as of now the base is keeping score.