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January 18, 2011

Michael Steele’s Hubris

Roy Meachum

Six years ago no one I knew doubted GOP gubernatorial candidate Robert Ehrlich’s running mate was selected chiefly because of his color.


Maryland’s lopsided Democratic majority has much to do with how Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal appealed to what were then termed “coloreds.” Prince George’s County and Baltimore city, with their staggering Democratic majorities, dominate state elections.


Michael Steele on the campaign trail was delightful; never condescending that I saw. He left a Catholic theological seminary to live a full-life, still faithful to Rome. How he was running on the state Republican ticket didn’t concern me. As a journalist, professionally I try to keep informed. But all sorts of political happenings happen beyond my ken – Scots for knowledge.


Michael performed well and faithful for the man who tried to turn all Maryland into a red state; but in 2008 most of America was flooded by a blue tide, fronted by a gentleman of his hue. Since Barack Obama became the Republicans’ number one target, the Republican Central Committee chose to elect a chairman whose attacks were incapable of being accused of “racism.”


Robert Ehrlich’s erstwhile lieutenant governor set out to convince his fellow American Africans that the Democratic Party couldn’t claim all the black voters. However, something unintended occurred. Feeling himself very secure in the overwhelmingly lily white GOP, Michael came down with a very bad case of what ancient Greeks termed “hubris.”


The definition that applies in this instance: “Hubris often indicates being out of touch with reality and overestimating one’s own competence or capability, especially for people in positions of power.” That’s exactly how I interpret the “pride” that “goes before a fall.”


Michael Steele goofed in spectacular ways, too numerous to reckon; for months there were news stories – and headlines – about the differing ways he managed to stick his well-shod feet into the hole beneath his very trimmed moustache.


His impregnability lasted only so long as his party feared the new man in the White House. Trading on the mass discontent the past two years brought, the electorate brought down Democratic control of the House of Representatives, and the very nice man from Maryland.


What sins, crimes and mistakes, Michael committed didn’t really make no sense at the time, reverting to my native Redneck. He could have performed the political equivalent of walking on water; he was destined for crucifixion when his party no longer needed him. The very nature of politics is to discard people and ideas when holding on to them serves no useful purpose.


Buoyed by well-meaning people and his own ego, the past chairman of the Republican National Committee hung on at week’s end through four balloting, before he understood he would not receive re-election. Among the omens was the disaffection of Wisconsin’s Reince Priebus, who was a staunch Steele advocate two years ago; he was elected RNC chairman Friday.


In a nutshell, Michael Steele’s example provides a glaring example of why I reject partisan politics, left and right; this republic is too precious to my children, grandchildren and future generations to cast aside for temporary political gains.


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