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All, All, All About Race

Michael Steele got the job for one reason: Republicans needed someone who could be the point man for bashing Barack Obama while being immune not only from charges of racism but any discussion of the fact that the current GOP is a party made up pretty much 100% of white folks. As is common with Republicans, Steele is the mirror image, ersatz Obama. Whatever else you can say about the 44th president, in the 2008 campaign and to a great degree still, he was a phenomenon, a meteoric political figure whose power on the political stage was much greater than the sum of his parts.

In different ways race played into the Obama phenomenon. But Republicans were always basically full of it and barking up the wrong tree when they tried to claim either that Democrats picked Barack Obama because he was black or that he was winning because he was black. So what did the Republicans do: turn around and hire someone to lead their party pretty much for the sole reason that he was black. As is so often the case, the critics of racial progress, because they don't comprehend it, resort to a parody of it.

Steele was hired because he was black. And the other truth is that now he can't be fired, in significant measure, because he's black. Because canning Steele now would only drive home the reality that Republicans were trying to paper over, fairly clumsily, when they hired him in the first place. So Republicans are stuck with his myriad goofs and #pressfails and incompetent management and all the rest because of a set of circumstances entirely of their own making.