The Spectacle Blog

Who Is Gentry Collins?

By on 11.17.10 | 10:14AM

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has been both defended here (over his book and paid public speeches -- a Washington staple for better or worse) and criticized (for his early seeming disavowal of Rush Limbaugh, which was itself quickly disavowed).

Mr. Steele is running for re-election as RNC Chair. The election results, whatever one wishes to make of them (stunning success… there could have been more success if only this, that or the other thing… yada yada yada) are in. And Chairman Steele will, as he must, defend his record and do all those candidate type tasks. He has a challenge from Saul Anuzis, the former Michigan State Chair.

The electorate is the membership of the RNC and beyond that an interested audience of donors.

No sides are being taken here.

But it is easy to say that the kerfuffle over a resignation letter from RNC political director Gentry Collins does not reflect well -- on Collins. 

It is always a source of amazement to see and read the number of staff people in Washington who believe their boss is an idiot and thus some inner voice only they can hear is telling them the smart thing to do is trash the boss in public or audibly behind the scenes. The inevitable loser in these escapades (the McCain staffers who made a point of generating anti-Palin stories during the heat of the 2008 campaign come to mind) are the reputations of the staffers involved. Short of some outright act of criminality by a boss, if you really have a problem X with the boss -- then by all means leave and move on. But the kind of public temper tantrum Mr. Collins has just exhibited in his leaked letter telegraphs only one thing, and that one thing has zero to do with Michael Steele.

The message received is that Mr. Collins sees the 2010 election as all about -- him.

Collins is displaying not only an ego problem but loyalty and competence problems that will be a red flag to any one looking to hire him. Loyalty because one doesn't trash one's boss in writing -- knowing the letter can easily be leaked. A problem made worse still if in fact Collins himself was the leaker. And competence because it immediately suggests the fact that Collins either doesn't understand this or doesn't care, both of which indicate a professional judgment problem in a town where both judgment and circumspection are standard professional equipment. 

Which is to say Mr. Collins' political skills are unaccompanied by a basic requirement -- common sense. And in a town where the "now hiring" sign is out on all manner of Republican doors, what potential boss can be certain Collins, if hired, isn't busily taking notes for his next very public disgruntled resignation letter?

Not good. 

In fact, dumb.

A public apology to Mr. Steele from Mr. Collins is in order.

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