Ailing Michael Steele Vows to Continue Using the Phrase “Hip-Hop”


In a pretty pointed Politico piece today, Michael Steele, erstwhile slang-artist and growing scourge on his own party, receives some pretty rough treatment. Write Mike Allen and Andy Barr:

    A month after Michael Steele became the first African-American chairman of the Republican National Committee, key party leaders are worried that the GOP has made a costly mistake — one that will make it even harder for them to take back power from the dominant Democratic Party.

Steadily becoming a dependable punch line, Steele has brushed back Rush Limbaugh, threatened moderate Republican senators, offered the “friggin’ awesome” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal some “slum love,” called civil unions “crazy” and promised more outreach to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings” via an “off the hook” public relations campaign.

He even threw a shout-out to “one-armed midgets.”

That’s in just 30 days on the job — and that’s just the PR part.

That’s the sound of two writers having an awful lot of fun. Fun we here know about. But though the article brings up new, equally inflammatory info–“Steele said he would make the “hip-hop” comment again,” write Allen and Barr; an atrocious proposition if there ever was one–the Atlantic‘s Ta-Nehisi Coates points out the danger in the carnage-riddled spectacle that’s now unfolding:

    I’m alright with the brothers laughing at him. I’m alright with other liberals laughing at him. But I don’t actually want the GOP’s first major effort at ending the Southern Strategy to be a comic disaster. I’ve never thought that it was good thing for the country, or for black people, to have all of us on one side. This could get ugly really, really fast. I, as much as anyone, should probably remember that.

True enough. The prosepect of having someone, however well intentioned, reinforce widespread dim racial views in the GOP is a potentially miserable outcome.

On the other hand, it’s probably possible to separate out rank incompetence–not having a staff, apparently, or any sort of discernible discipline–from Steele’s more minor misdemeanors. Without wishing failure on the man (although who around here roots for Republicans?) I can indeed sincerely wish that he leave hip-hop and its slang alone. Unless of course he wants to take credit for the culture’s darker alleyways: conservative legislation on guns, drugs, mandatory minimums, welfare, etc. has indeed helped make rap what it is today, in a very dark sort of sense. The hypocrisy is what grates most: If Steele wants to be the chief representative of a party that’s wrought a tremendous amount of ill on the hip-hop community, however, the least he could do would be to leave rap’s name out of it.

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