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Steele Plays the Race Card

In his first interview since a series of missteps last week. Michael Steele suggested race is a factor in his – and President Obama’s – struggles since their respective elections to positions of political power. I’m sure his cohorts in the Republican Party are thrilled that he just depicted them as a bunch of racists in front of the country:

“No,” was his simple answer saying that his critics have been calling for him to step down, “since the day I got the job.” […]

He also suggested that his race is an issue, “The honest answer is yes, it just is. Barack Obama has a slimmer margin. A lot of folks do. It means a different role for me to play and others to play.”

“But you take that as part of the nature of it,” Steele added. “It’s more because you’re not somebody they know. … Not old-boy network oriented. … My view on politics is much more grassroots oriented … so I tend to, you know, come at it a little bit stronger, a little bit more street-wise. That’s rubbed some feathers the wrong way.”

That’s an incoherent soundbite, but the top-line story here is that Michael Steele thinks people criticize him because of his race. Not because he’s generally failed at everything he’s tried, not because he has embarrassed the RNC throughout his tenure. Because of his race. And he thinks resistance to the President is racially motivated, too. He just indicted members of his own party, who now will have to take questions on whether they agree with Michael Steele, etc.

Michael Steele – losing the news cycle, one day at a time.

UPDATE: As Think Progress notes, this is new territory for Steele:

It’s ironic that Steele would use such a defense considering that he has has often been very critical of Democrats who “play the race card” when they get into trouble. In December, Steele called for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to apologize for invoking slavery during the health care debate, and attacked “the left” for using race when “their backs are up against the wall”:

“I’m kinda sick and tired of the left and Democrats in this country when they get in trouble and don’t get their way and their backs are up against the wall on legislation or whatever it is their trying to do, they go to that card, they play that race card, that slavery card, that civil rights card.”

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David Dayen

David Dayen