Hip-Hop RNC Chairman Michael Steele Likes Diddy, Snoop Dogg; Calls the Rat Pack the “Pack Rats”


It’s getting harder to imagine a path to survival for RNC Chairman Michael Steele, whose promise to launch the Republican party into “urban-suburban hip-hop settings” was only the beginning of a long downward slide that may well end in a no-confidence vote in April. In a recent GQ interview, not only did he mangle his own party line on homosexuality, gay marriage, and abortion; he also took the interviewer’s bait and started talking once again about hip-hop.

I was kinda expecting hip-hop to be playing in here today.

    Aw, sh–. It’s on my, uh, computer there. I haven’t pulled it up yet, but I’ll get a little bit goin’ in a second or two.

Who do you listen to?
I actually listen to a cross section, because I like to hear what the medium is saying, what the voice is.

But do you have a favorite?
P. Diddy I enjoy quite a bit.

Do you want to rethink that?

    [laughs] I guess I’m sorta old-school that way. Remember, I came of age with the DJ and all this other stuff, so I’m also loving Grandmaster Flash, and that’s not hip-hop, but… Um, you know, I like Chuck D. And I always thought Snoop Dogg was–he just reminded me of the fellas back home. So I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed him.

Who else?
I like Sinatra. I like old-school. You know, Bing Crosby, Sinatra, Dean Martin. Love Dean Martin. He was one of these guys who just didn’t give an F. He just didn’t. Life was a party, and you either want to party or you don’t. But yeah, I like those. I’m a big Pack Rat. I love the Pack Rats from the 1950s–Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, those guys.

You mean the Rat Pack.
The Rat Pack, yeah.

I particularly enjoy the moment when the interviewer, Lisa DePaulo, invites Steele to “rethink” his Diddy endorsement–whether because he’s a terrible rapper or a terrible poster-child for the Republican party, DePaulo doesn’t clarify. Steele goes on to assert that “hip-hop is about economic empowerment” and, when asked why virtually no non-white Americans support his party, answers:

    • ‘Cause we have offered them nothing! And the impression we’ve created is that we don’t give a damn about them or we just outright don’t like them. And that’s not a healthy thing for a political party. I think the way we’ve talked about immigration, the way we’ve talked about some of the issues that are important to African-Americans, like affirmative action… I mean, you know, having an absolute holier-than-thou attitude about something that’s important to a particular community doesn’t engender confidence in your leadership by that community–or consideration of you for office or other things–because you’ve already given off the vibe that you don’t care. What I’m trying to do now is to say we


    give a damn.

Which trenchant analysis you might think would actually make the guy ashamed to constantly proselytize that very same African-American community while standing for virtually zero change in anything Republicans actually believe, but whatever. I also enjoy the weird magical thinking that seems to assume that if you say something, it automatically comes to be true. See? Now we do give a damn. Can’t you hear the sincerity in my trembling, pleading voice?

“The Reconstructionist” [GQ, via Daily Intel]

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