Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Rise & Buckle of Michael Steele

We won't rush to condemn Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and his decision to give embattled White House Deputy Chief of Staff and Bush Family capo Karl Rove top billing at a recent Capitol Hill fundraiser. We're a bit more reasoned about African American political development in this new century, arguing that the community needs greater leverage inside both parties, particularly the dominant party. Putting too many eggs in one basket will end up with yolk. Steele, once a little known but relatively respected "consultant" heading an invisible and ragtag Republican Party chapter in majority upper middle-class Black Prince George's County, Maryland, has risen quickly to political pop star status within the GOP. However, his track record within the African American community remains rife with gaps and questions - yet, we can't deny that maybe that is more of Black Maryland's loss than Steele's since he is the highest ranking Black state elected official in the country.

But, given this latest development, we are forced to ask Steele: "what gives?" Here Steele stands, not only a rising Black star (an arguably "token" rise) within GOP ranks, but on the cusp of becoming Maryland's first Republican Senator since Charles "Mac" Mathias retired in 1987. And then, he decides or - as is the case with most Black Republicans - is forced to compel a Rove appearance. Not the smartest move, especially considering Rove isn't the most popular figure amongst the solid Free State Black voting block. He's really not that popular in Democratic-heavy Maryland period. The obvious question is why attract that kind of media cycle heat. Unless Steele underestimates the Fist of Kweisi Mfume and assumes the Black vote in urban and Southern Maryland is already locked, hence leaving him to draw that straw nibbling White rural vote.