Commentary Magazine


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One More “Race” Before Year’s End

There is some buzz about the race for the head of the Republican National Committee. It is not clear what the greatest need for the party is. If the RNC needs a thousand ideas, half of them fabulous and half really not, there is no better person than Newt Gingrich. If the need is to symbolize a turning of the page and a willingness to pursue new constituencies then someone like Michael Steele seems ideally suited. And if the issue is the nuts and bolts of re-organizing and re-building a party one of the more successful state chairs –Katon Dawson (SC) or Jim Greer (FL) would seem to be the best choice. In any case, this isn’t much of a race, since the new chairman will be chosen by a grand total of 168 Republican committeemen and women, all of whom will be courted with promises of specific goodies.

A smart GOP advisor from one of the 2008 contenders suggested this as the job description: “Someone who can integrate big picture thinking on message and strategy with the bricklaying that needs to be done at the grassroots level. The current state reminds me of the movie Braveheart. Warring clans worried about titles and their own plots of lands. We need a William Wallace who can unite everyone.” Is there such a person? Perhaps not.

But it wasn’t Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who won back the White House or two Houses of Congress. The former was done by Barack Obama and the latter by Rep. Rahm Emanuel– who recruited Democratic House candidates in 2006 and 2008 — and Sen. Chuck Schumer — who did the same for the Senate. So it may be the only “race” going on, but it is not necessarily the most important for the future of the GOP.