Former Republican Chairman Is Done With Racist Insults From His Own Party

Michael Steele won’t accept an apology from the conservative spokesman who attacked him.

Michael Steele

July 30, 2017 - Pasadena, California U.S. - MICHAEL STEELE speaks during a panel discussion at Politicon 2017.(Credit Image: © Brian Cahn via ZUMA Wire)Brian Cahn/Zuma

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It takes a lot for someone like Conservative Political Action Conference communications director Ian Walters to make headlines. Speaking at the end of a long day that featured President Donald Trump, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, and all manner of USDA-certified, grade-A bomb-throwers, Walters faced a pretty high bar for newsworthiness when he took the stage during dinner on Friday night. But like a great competitor, he rose to meet the challenge:

Yes, that’s the spokesman for the premier conservative confab of the year lamenting that his party once hired a black man as RNC chair. Walters apologized to Steele afterward, and Steele told MSNBC on Saturday he declined to accept it. Steele later called the comments “painfully stupid.”  Can you blame him?

Backsliding isn’t quite the right word for CPAC 2018. The crank national security analyst Frank Gaffney, who was banned from the conference a few years ago for accusing one of the American Conservative Union’s board members of working for the Muslim Brotherhood, spoke from the main stage on Friday; white nationalist writer Peter Brimelow roamed the halls; a speaker who briefly mentioned being moved by a naturalization ceremony for new citizens was booed.

https://twitter.com/PhilipWegmann/status/967139518909427712

In that context, lamenting that the African-American former lieutenant governor of Maryland was named RNC chair nine years ago seemed like the logical endpoint.

Steele has become a conservative apostate in recent years. Last fall, he publicly announced that he would not be voting for Trump, and it’s increasingly unclear what Steele did during his tenure to warrant becoming such an enduring punchline. Steele presided over the party’s most successful midterm election in half a century but was dogged by charges of financial mismanagement—including reimbursing a donor for a trip to a bondage-themed club, and spending on private jets. Nine years later the RNC is paying the president of the United States $440,000 a year in rent—or 226 trips to bondage-themed clubs, in layman’s terms—and put the vice president’s nephew on salary while its leading lights fly either in first-class or on private jets on the taxpayer’s dime.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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