On September 1st, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele graced the stage in Washington once more for a town hall meeting hosted by the young black Republicans of Howard University. (For the sake of full disclosure I have to admit up front that I was, at one point, a Republican. I have since been exorcised and have a GOP: NEVER FORGET tattoo written in Japanese kanji on my lower back.)
Michael Steele is a terrible leader. Full stop.
I'm not sure who expressed to Mr. Steele that he was right there on top of the political game with President Obama, but he seems to believe it hook, line and sinker; I know this because he implied it multiple times during the course of the evening. Yet for all of his attempts to reach out to the black community with his Hip-Hop Republican ideas and possibly soul food assisted membership drives, Steele misses the one thing (besides common sense, which he DOES NOT have) that is needed to deal with black folk: Likability.
Watch the evidence:
Watching Steele talk to Howard was the equivalent of watching a house negro explain how great Massa' really is. ("I mean we COULD run for freedom, but why bother?")
I don't necessarily equate the Republican party to a slave owner (today) but this is what is perceived by a lot of folks. He tried to be cool by dropping a "Mo' Money" during one exchange, which might have won him some points—in 1995. He explained that he had a less than ideal upbringing, and threw out the names Russell Simmons & Rev. Run, in an attempt to show how much Street Cred he had. These supposed "black points" don't make him a credible voice to the black community or anywhere near likable, and *he doesn't know* that. What a shame.
What's more, this town hall lacked any substance at all. Answering the lone health care question (he literally repeated the entire question and added a few words to buy time) he gave the basic generic GOP argument against health care reform. He speaks about how badly the government handles things by night while by day pushing a new Seniors Rights Bill basically saying Medicare should be left alone.
But this is not what I'm currently faulting him for. There are a lot of horrendously uninformed and purposefully manipulative people in politics. The issue with Steele is he's trying to game me like a white school teacher doing his first assignment in the 'hood, and I dont appreciate it.
—ELON JAMES WHITE
Elon James White is a writer and satirist and host of the award-winning video and radio series This Week in Blackness. Listen Monday to Thursday at 1:30 p.m. EST at TWIB.FM and watch at TV.TWIB.ME/LIVE. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Tumblr.