Michael Steele

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Recovering Politician

THEN: Chairman, Republican National Committee, 2009-2011, Lieutenant Governor (MD) 2004-2008 NOW: Attorney, Political Analyst Full Biography: link

Join Krystal Ball, Michael Steele, Jeff Smith and The RP at an NYC New School Forum, TONIGHT!

Second Acts: Recovering from Scandal

Presented by the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School.

Crisis management and scandal recovery have captured the moment, from big-league sports to New York City’s recent political silly season. PR firms are rebranding themselves as crisis advisers. Ex-White House aides are peddling their bona fides. While the public sees scandal through a tabloid lens, at its heart are flawed human beings making mistakes, acting emotionally, and trying to preserve their reputations and careers. “Recovering politicians” who suffered highly publicized scandals share their stories, offer guidance, and comment on the latest attempts to launch second acts.

Jeff SmithWSOP Day 2A conversation with:
Krystal Ball, co-host, MSNBC’s “The Cycle;” former Virginia congressional candidate
Jonathan Miller, Daily Beast columnist; No Labels co-founder; former Kentucky state treasurer
Michael Steele, co-chairman, Purple Nation Strategies; former Republican National Committee chairman

Moderated by:
Jeff Smith, assistant professor of politics and advocacy, The New School; former Missouri state senator

6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Theresa Lang Community & Student Center, Arnhold Hall
55 West 13th Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues), 2nd Floor

Admission is free but you must RSVP.

Michael Steele On Trayvon Martin: “Killed For No Reason Other Than Being Black, Young, Wearing A Hoodie”

From 92Y at the Jefferson:

446px-Michael_SteeleFormer Chairman of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele recently sat down with 92Y Producer Jordan Chariton at The Jefferson Hotel in Washington, D.C. to discuss how to revive the Republican Party.

In part two of our extended interview, Steele touched on everything from the Tea Party movement to the Trayvon Martin case.

Steele doesn’t see Tea Party lawmakers as obstructionists:

“They had a charge from the people who elected them…you go to Washington and you draw a line in the sand, you put a hold on the amount of spending, and you say no to more spending without some level of contraction.”

Where Steele does acknowledges issues Republicans are having is with communication, specifically with minority groups, joking:

“I think there’s a huge gap between our brain and our mouth,” Steele said, adding, “You don’t always express what you’re thinking without thinking it through.”

Steele also shared his views on the murder of Trayvon Martin.

“A 17-year-old African American with a bottle of tea and a bag of Skittles was killed for no reason other than being black, young, wearing a hoodie.”

He also spoke about President Obama’s election, pointing out that it has not ended racism in America.

“Obama’s election was not a panacea for race relations. All these folks running around talking about, ‘Oh, we’re in a postracial America’ … BS, as the Trayvon Martin case readily proves.”

Do you agree with Steele’s take on the Trayvon Martin murder? Comment below.

Michael Steele: The ‘Dream’ is still alive

I had the pleasure of running into Donna Brazile the other day and talking about the 50th Anniversary programs and celebrations for the 1963 March on Washington.

She noted that she had been asked by Coretta Scott King to serve as the National Youth Coordinator for the 20th anniversary celebrations in 1983 and showed me a vintage poster proclaiming “We Still Have A Dream – Jobs Peace Freedom”. Our shared remembrances and that poster got me thinking about how much America has changed, and how important Dr. King’s Dream was for a nation and a young black boy coming of age in late 20th century America.

The America that convenes on the Mall in 2013 to celebrate and commemorate Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is a very different America from the one Dr. King spoke to in August, 1963.

While the vice-like grip of Jim Crow laws were slowly weakening across the country and “For Whites Only” signs no longer greeted those who sought relief at nearby water fountains on the Mall that hot August day, Dr. King surely knew that this moment would be less about the past and more about the future. His words would not only speak to those assembled, but would also press upon future generations the need to “take up the cause of freedom”.

In some respects, that iconic moment which launched an historic movement closed a particularly dark chapter in America’s history: a chapter which chronicled the burden of slavery and institutionalized discrimination; a chapter which imprinted segregated public accommodations and schools on the very soul of American life; a chapter in which the foundation of America—freedom and equality—was rocked by lynchings and fire bombings.

In that moment, Dr. King turned the page to reveal a new chapter for America—one we are still writing today—steeped in hope, yes, but desperate for opportunity. So, where are we fifty years later? How much of the Dream has become reality; and how much of our reality has faded the Dream?

Steele MMO_1368-EditWe’ve elected a black man president of the United States and yet a black boy is still “profiled” to be a threat and killed because of it. African Americans have reached the pinnacles of industry and commerce, entertainment, sports and politics and yet black unemployment sits at 13.4 percent and the poverty rate exceeds 28 percent (46 percent for a single mother with children under 18). The black family and the black church—the “social safety net” of the black community—anchored the African American experience as we marched off plantations and ultimately on Washington.

But now 67 percent of black children live with one parent (black children are seven times more likely to have a parent in prison) and 68 percent of black babies are born to unwed mothers. African Americans have overcome the terror of police dogs and water hoses but find themselves three times more likely to be stopped, questioned and arrested on the streets of metropolitan America than Whites. The passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act guaranteed political and civil opportunities for full participation at the ballot box, but many African Americans now find that access under reconsideration in the face of new voter registration and voter ID laws and recent Supreme Court decisions.

Dr. King’s speech challenged the status quo of his time and now so must we. But we must first answer for our generation the question often asked of him: ‘When will you be satisfied?’

As Dr. King would reply, “We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “for whites only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

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Michael Steele: The ‘Dream’ is still alive

Michael Steele: How to Revive the Republican Party

From 92 Y at the Jefferson:

446px-Michael_SteeleFormer Chairman of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele recently sat down with 92Y Producer Jordan Chariton at The Jefferson Hotel in Washington, D.C. to discuss how to revive the Republican Party.

In part one of our extended interview, Steele urged his party to become the party of civil rights, a party that welcomes the immigrant instead of “repelling” the immigrant, and to realize “the old way of doing politics is not what America’s interested in anymore.”

Steele noted that when the GOP was successful in recent years, the message “wasn’t about treating women as property or looking at them as if they had no say in how to control their lives.”

Steele also reflected on the GOP’s 2012 election defeat, saying that election was over by July or August, even before the infamous 47% tapes came out. Steele says most voters had made up their mind against the GOP and Mitt Romney long before the derogatory tape came out.

Steele also strongly denounced the label attributed to the Republican Party as the “party for the rich.”

“I’ve always been amused at the argument that somehow we have cornered the market on rich. Most of the CEOS of the biggest companies…are Democrats, and they supported Obama, and yet the narrative is they’re in our pocket. I’m like ‘dude, that’s not the reality, they’re not writing checks to the GOP.’”

Do you agree with Steele’s recommendations for the GOP? Comment below!

Michael Steele: How Republicans should fix Obamacare

Last summer when the Supreme Court delivered its surprising affirmation of the Patient Protection and Affordable CareAct (a.k.a “Obamacare”), liberals rejoiced and sang the praises of the very court they had, up until then, vilified; and conservatives scratched their heads at the perceived betrayal by  Chief Justice  John Roberts and renewed their call to “repeal and replace” the law after the November elections.

But Obama won, Democrats picked up two seats in the Senate and Republicans lost 8 seats in the House.

We’ve come a long way since those heady days. And still, the news on Obamacare has not been all that great.

Recently, one of the architects of the legislation, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), actually admitted that the Affordable Care Act “is beyond comprehension”; while another, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) called it a “train wreck.” But it was Henry Chao, Obama’s chief technical officer in charge of putting in place the insurance exchanges mandated by the law, who caused heads to turn when he said “I’m pretty nervous . . . Let’s just make sure it’s not a third-world experience.” With supporters like that…

Certainly, actions taken by the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) leading up to implementing the convoluted law have not helped assuage the perceptions of members of Congress, let alone the American people.  Forced to suspend the employer mandate to offer insurance to employees, the Administration finds itself in a mad scramble to play down the administrative SNAFU by playing up lower premiums for all while blaming those pesky Republicans for putting the administration in this situation in the first place.

But House Republicans (like Senate Democrats) only get to vote up or down on legislation. It is the agencies and departments of government (run and managed by the administration) that must implement the law. And for this administration, the hit parade of problems continue to mount. For example, while most Americans were enjoying their 4th of July holiday and not paying attention, HHS sheepishly announced, in a “final ruling” it will not attempt to verify individual eligibility for insurance subsidies. Instead it will rely on individuals “self-reported eligibility”. So I get to tell HHS I’m eligible and they write a check subsidizing my insurance? I can’t think of a more sublime invitation to massive fraud.

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Michael Steele: How Republicans should fix Obamacare

Michael Steele on Liz Chaney’s Senate Run

From Tal Kopan of Politico:

Michael Steele on Wednesday said Liz Cheney’s decision to challenge fellow Republican Sen. Mike Enzi for his Wyoming Senate seat will be disastrous and split the party.

The former Republican National Committee chairman told MSNBC’s Alex Wagner that he thinks former Sen. Alan Simpson was right to call the situation a “disaster.”

“I think he’s right, I think it’s going to open a lot of fissures in the party. I think this is an insurgent move by Cheney,” Steele said Wednesday on “Now with Alex Wagner.”

Steele criticized Cheney’s comments that Enzi has compromised too much and “gone along to get along.”

“When have people gone along to get along in Washington in the last four or five years?” Steele said. “This is clearly more of a personal opportunity to, thinking there’s an opening here, and, you know, it’s going to be tough.”

Agreeing with fellow panelist E.J. Dionne, Steele said he hopes race is a chance for rank and file Republicans to fight back against a Washington tea party.

“I hope they do. I hope the Enzi team really come prepared with a strong A game, because this could be a seminal moment for a longer conversation,” Steele said.

Click here to read full piece.

Michael Steele on the Zimmerman Verdict

Michael Steele: Wrong Message?

RNC: “please keep a tight lid on this.” [BET]

Michael Steele: Supreme Court ‘Gut’ the Voting Rights Act

“The Right of Citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States by any State on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude and that the Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

At the dawning of the 21st Century, the words of the 15th Amendment to our Nation’s Constitution remind us of one of the most precious gifts of liberty: to freely exercise your right to vote.

And yet, even the 15th Amendment—on its face—did not guarantee that the “right of citizens of the United States” to vote would not be denied as America emerged from the fog of civil war and into the new reality that those individuals once enslaved under the constitution were now entitled to exercise their rights as citizens under that same constitution.

It would not be long, however, before certain of the states, particularly in the south, responded to the demand of the 15th Amendment by devising a variety of tools to disenfranchise African American voters for reasons of “eligibility”. From literacy tests to pole taxes, from property ownership to oral and written examinations, States began to enact laws that ultimately “denied and abridged” African Americans their right to vote.

Moreover, when intimidation at the ballot box failed to curb the thirst for full access to the rights guaranteed by the Framers of the Constitution, more insidious and violent means such as lynchings, fire bombs and murder were used to “remind the Negro of his place” in American society.

In our society, all rights are ultimately protected by the ballot box, not the sword.

By virtue of the efforts to “legally” circumvent the dictates of the 15th Amendment as well as the escalation in violence against African Americans in Philadelphia, Mississippi, Selma and Montgomery Alabama the promise of the Constitution for African Americans and many other minorities—full and equal political rights—was like a munificent bequest from a pauper’s estate until the passage of the single most important piece of civil rights legislation in American history: the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Both Democrats and Republicans were moved to respond to President Johnson’s voting initiative when he declared in his State of the Union Address “we shall overcome”. With the efforts of individuals like Martin Luther King, Andrew Young, and Congressman John Lewis laying the foundation for what would become an increasingly important political movement, Congress took up an historic challenge to end the “blight of racial discrimination in voting…[which had] infected the electoral process in parts of our county for nearly a century” under the leadership of Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (R-Il).

Steele MMO_1368-EditSo it is chilling, to say the least, to witness 48 years later the Supreme Court effectively gut the Voting Rights Act.

The Act’s remedial structure is Section 5 which places a federal “pre-clearance” barrier against the adoption of any new voting practice or procedure by covered states and localities whose purpose or effect is to discriminate against minority voters. For over 40 years thereafter, the federal courts, and the Department of Justice worked hand-in-hand to make this promise of Section 5 a very potent reality.

While the Court did not strike down Section 5, it did strike down its operational core—Section 4—which establishes the coverage formula the federal government uses to determine which states and counties are subject to continued federal oversight. Chief Justice John Roberts in writing for the 5-4 majority noted “Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.” Under the majority’s reasoning, “If Congress had started from scratch in 2006,” the last time the Voting Rights Act was reauthorized, “it plainly could not have enacted the present coverage formula.”

For the Court to say that such coverage formulas are outdated is reasonable in the face of enormous improvements in minority voter registration and participation. Roberts illustrates his point by providing the following chart comparing voter registration numbers from 1965 to 2004.


As the Chief Justice stressed “There is no doubt that these improvements are in large part because of the Voting Rights Act,” noting “[t]he Act has proved immensely successful at redressing racial discrimination and integrating the voting process.” Roberts would conclude “Those extraordinary and unprecedented features were reauthorized — as if nothing had changed.” Likewise it is reasonable for the Court to want the Congress to update them.

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Michael Steele: Supreme Court ‘Gut’ the Voting Rights Act

Michael Steele: “The is not a ‘Litmus Test’ Party”

From MSNBC’s Weekends with Alex Witt:

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