Steele: ‘I Wrote This Book Before I Became Chairman’ (Um, Really?)

January 8, 2010 10:44 a.m.

Appearing today on Laura Ingraham’s radio show, RNC chairman Michael Steele said that he wrote his book Right Now before he became chairman. The problem is, the book itself doesn’t read like it could have possibly been written before January 2009 — it was clearly written in late 2009, either in November or December, and is based entirely on current events up to that point.

“I wrote this book before I became chairman. Because of the clock and the calendar, I wound up doing it now,” said Steele. It’s not clear whether this might have been intended to somehow deflect criticism from other Republicans over the book – GOPers have said they didn’t know Steele was writing a book until it was released — or whether he might have been speaking figuratively that he decided to write the book earlier. It’s hard to know exactly what he meant.

When we here at TPM heard that Michael Steele had a new book, we immediately bought a copy and I proceeded to read the whole thing cover to cover. Unless Steele is remarkably clairvoyant, it seems as though it could not have been written before he became chairman — it is overwhelmingly a commentary on the political situation in America under President Barack Obama, as of late 2009.The book is full of references to current events in 2009: The stimulus bill, the health care debate, foreign policy, ACORN, the party switch of Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Tea Parties and the 9/12 March on Washington, etc.

On page 38, Steele uses a partial quote from Barney Frank, which was spoken on the Ed Schultz show on October 26, 2009. Steele also takes the quote amazingly out of context, as a Nexis search would demonstrate, to give the misleading impression that Frank was openly admitting that Democrats want to control every last area of the economy — but that’s another story.

On page 61, Steele says of Obama: “He champions bipartisanship, but he supports a process where Nancy rams a 2,000-page healthcare bill through the House of Representatives on a Saturday night with just a single Republican vote.” That vote occurred on November 7, 2009.

In his chapter, “Take Back National Security,” Steele discusses the Iranian elections, the Honduran political crisis, and the Fort Hood shooting, among many other hot topics of this past year.

A few stray parts of the book may have predated Steele’s chairmanship, and been incorporated into the overall narrative. A speech he gave on February 2, 2008, is included at the end as an appendix, as is Ronald Reagan’s “A Time For Choosing” speech from 1964. There is Steele’s discussion of the values he learned from his working-class mother, a theme that has run through his whole political career. There is his take on how the Republicans failed to live up to their small-government principles and lost the confidence of the electorate in 2008.

But even those are mixed in with current events. For example, the chapter on previous Republican failures also includes, on pages 27-29, a discussion of the November 2009 elections. He refers to the gubernatorial victories of Chris Christie (R-NJ) and Bob McDonnell (R-VA), and the three-way roller-coaster ride in NY-23 of Democrat Bill Owens, moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava, and Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.

And finally, Steele refers to himself on pages 14, 28, and 73, as being the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Late Update: Steele’s publisher, Regnery Publishing, told the Hotline that Steele had been “working on parts of the book before he was chairman. He’s made some updates recently.”

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