Young, Gifted and Slack

What Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber have in common with Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan.

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Get Off the Bus

In another life, Joe could be the Republicans’ counterweight to Sen. Al Franken.

The plumber should be the perfect congressional candidate—a prototype citizen legislator as envisioned by the founding fathers.  If he put on a coat and tie, sharpened his focus on the tax issue that made him famous and started quietly making the rounds in his own community, he’d be a shoe-in to win a congressional seat in 2010.

Instead of working his way up the ladder of the House GOP caucus, he’s content to be a T-shirt wearing, tea-party keynoter. His political role model is really Minister Louis Farrakhan—a Minister-without-Portfolio standing in for an amalgamation of poorly defined grievances.

The Curious Case of Michael Steele

The Young Republican Federation meets in Indianapolis this weekend to choose a new leader, amid controversy surrounding Audra Shay, a contender for the top YRF post, for recent comments in postings on her Facebook page that contained racist jokes.

Some conservatives, like Hip Hop Republicans’ Lenny McAllister, came out unequivocally condemning the comments. But Steele, who campaigned for the RNC chairmanship against an opponent who distributed “Barack the Magic Negro” CDs, has been pretty quiet about the incident, raising the question: What is he even there for?

There are more seasoned political players, more stalwart conservatives and more prodigious fundraisers who could have been installed as GOP chair other than Steele. But he’s a jocular, semi-credible good soldier who’s also black. He really only brings value to his position if he takes a crack at changing the Republican culture from the inside out. He hasn’t done it yet, and if he can’t do it from the bully pulpit he has now, then he was a lame duck from the start.

Once upon a time, a few undemocratically self-anointed individuals spoke (and spoke, and spoke) for black America. Black participation in government and the elective political process was stunted, and Middle America nurtured a perception that African Americans were content to stay permanently outside of the political mainstream.

That’s finally changed in the Obama era. But while the old leadership model is rapidly declining in the black community, it’s being revived among the tribe of disaffected cultural conservatives whose most visible leaders now are young, gifted and slack.

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