Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Reince Priebus: Back-Stabber

I'm not going to pretend for a moment that I have any clue as to the machinations of internal GOP politics, but I do know a good knifing when I see one and Reince Priebus may have just committed one of the most flagrant backstabbings I've seen in a very long time.

Look back just two short years ago. When Michael Steele was elected chair of the GOP with Priebus as his manager, we here in Wisconsin were treated to gushing fluff pieces on how Steele and Priebus were the Republican ebony and ivory ready to bring the party back to glory. Here the MJS from February of 2009:
The two did not know each other well when Priebus endorsed Steele for RNC chairman last fall. But there was "an instantaneous click," said Steele, who said he saw Priebus as someone who shared an interest in modernizing the party and shared the experience of promoting Republicans in a state where Democrats had the upper hand.

Priebus ended up managing Steele's underdog campaign for the chairmanship.

It's easy to see why Priebus thought Michael Steele was such a potent political force. After all, this was the guy who thought it would be a great idea to have Mike Tyson be one of his surrogates on the campaign trail when he ran for the Senate.

(Amazingly enough, nothing about the photo above has been Photoshopped.)

By April of that year there were already questions about Steele's ability to manage party funds, but Priebus was out there shilling for his guy:

Randy Pullen, the RNC's elected treasurer, former RNC General Counsel David Norcross and three other former top RNC officers have presented Mr. Steele with a resolution, calling for a new set of checks and balances on the chairman's power to dole out money.

The powers include new controls on awarding contracts and spending money on outside legal and other services.

Mr. Steele could not be reached, and a spokesman for the RNC chairman declined to comment on the move.

The resolution prompted a top Steele supporter to issue a scathing attack against Mr. Pullen and his allies after they had asked Mr. Steele to support the "good governance" resolution at a special meeting of the full national committee set for next month. The party spent about $300 million in last year's elections.

"I urge you to reject this hostile attempt to embarrass and neuter the chairman of the RNC," Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus wrote in an e-mail to the 168-member national committee.

And that was just the beginning of a long sting of events for which Steel would gain his notoriety during which time Priebus was notably silent in his criticism of his boss while he retained the position of top party counsel and closest advisor to Steele.
And that was merely the beginning of a long string of gaffes that rapidly diminished the stature of both the chair and the RNC. Now Priebus is saying things like:
“I will run a tight ship at the RNC,” Priebus wrote. “I will keep expenses low. I will put in strong and serious controls. We will raise the necessary funds to make sure we are successful. We will work to regain the confidence of our donor base and I will personally call our major donors to ask them to rejoin our efforts at the RNC.”
But in a video message accompanying an e-mail Priebus sent to RNC members, the Wisconsin lawyer said: “I don’t believe we can win the presidency without a highly functional RNC, and unfortunately we don’t have that today.”
Which begs the question: Why didn't you do implement these policies when you had the chance as a member of the leadership of the party?

As I said earlier, I don't know a damn thing about Republican intramural skirmishes, but this is still pretty low. I don't expect much loyalty from politicians, but the I do think there is something to be said about the appearance of loyalty, and this act has none to mention.

Steele's been awful and a ham sandwich can likely do a better job running the party -- no one's going to disagree with that. There's clearly a sense that Steele's time as chair represents a massive missed opportunity, both financially and in terms of party growth, at the GOP. But what's the sense of rewarding the people who brought the party Michael Steele in the first place, especially after such a shameless act of treachery?

When Steele took over the RNC there were huge lay-offs of leftover from the old regime. Priebus comments criticizing the management of the RNC are the first he has uttered in since the beginning of Steele's chairmanship. If he couldn't manage to correct the course of the U.S.S. Michael Steele how the hell is he going to manage the rest of the party?

The Recess Supervisor praises Priebus' ambition and compares the move favorably in relation to the House Dems keeping Nancy Pelosi -- but aren't both moves really just the same thing?


Stewie the Demoralized said...

Yay Ham Sandwich!
When all hope is lost, when everything has bungled beyond all previous concepts of bunglehood, and the nation is one big fireball visible from space... who is the only guy who can step in to ANY job and set things right?
Ham Sandwich!!!

p.s. best quote(okay not THE best, but one-of-the)from To Kill A Mockingbird?

Begonia said...

Thanks for the history lesson. I didn't realize Priebus had been one of Steele's biggest supporters.

Off-topic, but have you seen this?


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