Opposition to – or, perhaps more accurately, skepticism about – Steele was repeatedly mischaracterized by the media as a battle between conservatives and moderates. In truth, the doubters were more concerned with the question of whether Steele has the managerial prowess needed to organize winning unity among Republicans, a difficult feat Trent Lott famously likened to “herding cats.”
American Spectator managing editor J.P. Freire summarized this issue before the RNC convened last week in Washington: “What has he done to demonstrate that he has the sort of executive ability needed to lead the RNC? The GOP is in deep trouble, and no more mistakes are necessary. . . . Did Maryland pick up seats in the legislature during his tenure [as state party chairman]? Not really. How was he as a fundraiser, one of the main jobs of a chairman? Middling. Out of power and in a bad economy, committeemen need to ask how Steele will be able to pull in the big bucks for the party.”
Those are the doubts Steele must overcome and, as Freire observed, he must overcome them in the midst of an economic crisis for the nation and a political crisis for his party. . . .