Republicans yesterday elected former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael S. Steele to lead their party, selecting the GOP's first black national chairman. The outcome also signaled a clear break from the leadership of President George W. Bush, whose hand-picked party chief was among those Steele defeated for the post.
Don't expect the adoring media attention of this "historic election". Yet, Steele has much more pressing matters than basking in whatever history he has created. Bill O'Reilly summed up the problem with the RNC when he asked a commentator who was the RNC Chairman.
As such, job one for Michael Steele is to go out and get noticed. Of course, it is much more sophisticated than that. Steele is a very talented politician. He is charismatic and he is able to verbalize conservative principles with the best of them.
That must be his first priority. Steele, more than just about anyone, can and should become the face of the party. The party needs a leader. More than anything, it needs someone that can effectively debate conservative principles to counter the same from the other side.
Job two is organizing and getting some energy back into a deflated party. The Republicans have suffered two straight humiliating defeats. Steele must make it clear that there will be no number three. He must get out there and organize and fundraise. Then, he must use RNC resources effectively to support those candidates most in need, and with the best shot of winning.
Job three is to convince Americans that the party is getting back to its roots. The party has lost most of its credibility on fiscal discipline. Steele must convince Americans that given another chance they won't again be party to runaway spending, pork and corruption.
How does he do it? Those are answers I don't yet have. Good luck to him for his task is monumental.