The GOP is in a tizzy over recent remarks by party chair Michael Steele.
Late last week at a GOP rally in Connecticut, the former Lt. Gov. of Maryland was caught calling the war in Afghanistan one of, "Obama's choosing."
That sent party leaders scurrying to be first in line to call for his resignation, or at least describe Steele's statement as "wildly inaccurate," as was done by former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Following McCain's call, such Republicans as Bill Kristol and former vice presidential daughter Liz Cheney said Steele's time as cheerleader in chief for the party should end. Now, the influentials are talking about who should replace Steele:
According to the National Review, "This is a job for Sarah Palin. Palin would be a much better RNC chairman than presidential candidate or freelance kingmaker. She'd raise tons of money and help recruit good candidates, i.e., she'd excel at doing the things Steele should have been doing instead of appointing himself Republican pundit-at-large.
"A Chairman Palin would help set the right tone for the Republican party without having to get herself entangled in the minutiae of policy-development, which has not been her forte. Sure, she'd be polarizing, but so is Barack Obama, and these are polarized times. And it's one thing to have a polarizing party chairman, another to have a polarizing candidate."
Actually, "cheerleader-in-chief" for the party might be a terrific slot for former Gov. Palin. A conservative friend of mine recently went to see Palin speak at a GOP women's event. My friend agrees with Palin's politics, but even she, a philosophical supporter, felt nauseated each time Palin winked at the crowd (hundreds of times apparently, in one speech) and similarly overused the "thumbs up" sign. If that's not cheerleading, what is?
Besides, Steele's fundraising is not only down, it's out, according to CBS/AP. "Donations to the RNC are down and instead, donors are giving their money to groups such as the Republican National Senatorial Committee and the Republican Governors Association."
Sarah Palin, meanwhile, is raising tons for herself and for her party and is a campaign favorite for candidates running on the extreme right wing of the party's platform.
There are, however, downsides to Palin as party chair. She's a polarizing personality. She's a wedge issues kind of gal. Again, according to CBS/AP, "a recent Pew poll finds that 40 percent of respondents have a favorable view of Palin, 51 percent don't — which is why political analysts such as National Journal Hotline Editor Reid Wilson says — don't hold your breath."
That's too bad for Republican moderates and right-leaning independents, who feel grossly uncomfortable with the conservative Christian takeover of the party to which they used to belong or for which they used to vote. But Steele is no moderate, so on that point, there is little by way of change.
Others point out Palin already has a national platform and doesn't need to run the party to obtain one. So she may be quite disinterested in the position.
For the moment, Palin is unlikely to want the job and Steele is unlikely to give up the job willingly or without a fight. But once Michael Steele figures out a graceful exit strategy, or other party elders divine one and push it upon him, don't be surprised to see Palin's name more widely touted as a possible successor.
• • •
Bonnie Erbe is a TV host and writes this column for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail bonnieerbe@CompuServe.com.