Potato Salad, Lesbian Bondage, and a Hustler’s Mentality

April 9, 2010  |  

by Yvette Carnell

The biggest anomaly in American politics has always been the black Republican. Seeing a black person openly identify as a Republican has always been sort of like watching the high school nerd attempt to sit at the “cool” table; awkward to watch and difficult to understand.

This demeaning caricature is due mainly to the opposition of conservatives to the Civil Rights movement.  Traditionally, the word conservative has conjured up images of water hoses, police dogs, Bull Connor, and Dixiecrats.  The angry white male became the stamp of the conservative movement.

But as more and more African-Americans took the entrepreneurial leap, and began to reap the benefits of tax cuts, our community embarked on a period of growing political maturity, where we viewed Republicanism, and its progenitor- conservatism, as more of a benign social ideological system than an extension of the oppression which we’d collectively experienced during the tumultuous 1960’s and 1970’s.

This shift in perception signaled the advent of the mainstream black Republican.  There have been many beneficiaries of this unlikely marriage of enterprise and diversity,  the most recent of which is Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

Steele, who is a former Maryland Lieutenant Governor and who waged a respectable campaign for Governor in the same state, was elected RNC Chair in January of 2009.

Throughout this past year, Steele has come under fire for racially charged comments (like when he joked that he could entice African Americans to the Republican Party with “fried chicken and potato salad”),  for stepping on the toes of “Boss Hog” Rush Limbaugh, for his outlandish spending and limited fundraising, and now for approving $2,000 in reimbursements for charges at a risque night club.

Steele can’t seem to put one controversy behind him before he’s “on to the next one”.

As well all know by now, Steele didn’t actually attend the the lesbian bondage themed strip club, but that doesn’t much matter.  In a time where the Republican Party is licking its chops in anticipation of the 2010 Midterms, every penny counts.  And by approving such a clearly inappropriate charge, Steele  put his chairmanship and his reputation in jeopardy.

Now a consensus has formed in the Republican Party that RNC Chair Steele is incompetent and members have even gone so far as to to create a shadow RNC in the hopes of wrestling control of donor dollars away from Steele.

Unlike many pundits though, I doubt that Steele is obtuse, or a dismal mismanager of money. Quite to the contrary – Steele just doesn’t care.  Steele is using the people who have used him.  He saw an opportunity to take what he has – his race and the “R” behind his name – and flip it.

Steele’s a hustler, baby.

Had Barack Obama not been elected President, Steele would not have been elected RNC Chair.  In choosing Steele as their Chair, Republicans answered the Democrat’s pigment challenge and upped the ante by one negro.  If the Democrats had a black President, then the Republicans would choose a black RNC Chair.

The miscalculation Republicans made was in thinking that Steele would-as so many African American Republicans who pre-dated him – dutifully play the role of token negro.

They couldn’t have been more wrong.

Steele did make his round of appearances on all the major cable network news shows where he used his loose grip of the facts to lazily tow the Republican line.  But that was about all the energy Steele could muster to fulfill  his role as RNC Chair.

It’s funny when you think about it;  that the party of angry white males could be so easily undermined by one smiling, effervescent, and congenial black man.

I guess it just goes to show that even in 2010, you still can’t knock the hustle.

Yvette Carnell is a former Capitol Hill Staffer turned political blogger. She currently publishes two blogs, Spatterblog.com and GoGirlGuide.com.

Trending on MadameNoire

Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN