Friday, February 6, 2009

Steele broom sweeps clean

Well, dayum, that was fast. Apparently the idea of politics in action, the spirit of getting things done doesn’t stop with the brain trust of those in the Obama White House.

Michael Steele, only days into his new role as the chairman of the Republican National Committee, has taken a page — if not a whole chapter — from the Obama playbook of rapid transition. The Politico reported Friday that Steele has asked for the resignation of the entire RNC staff, signaling what Politico characterized as “a dramatic turnover at the party organization.”

Politico’s Ben Smith, writing in his blog, reported that many on the RNC payroll, including members of the committee’s communications staff, have been warned that their last day is Feb. 15. So much for two weeks’ notice.

Smith reported:
”Some aides may be retained, though Republicans are under the impression that Steele will lead a large-scale changeover in the institution, which has about 100 staffers. …

“Some senior aides expected the changes and voluntarily submitted their resignations soon after Steele's election, and many have already found new jobs; some of the managers are now working on finding new jobs for their staffers …”

"All of the members of the transition team are meeting with people and evaluating each department," said Jim Greer, Florida Republican Party chairman and part of Steele's transition team, interviewed by The Hill’s Reid Wilson. “Across the board, the entire organization is having a top-to-bottom look.”

Greer told The Hill that more staff reductions may be coming. “Although there are some that are told today, there may be some that are told tomorrow and some that won't be told at all,” he said.

“You know, the chairman reserves the right to make decisions that reflect his vision and leadership," one RNC staffer told The Hill, pink slip in hand. Nonetheless, he said, "[I]t is starting to feel like the Steele-your-job administration.”

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In some respects this is nothing new. It’s a brutal but unavoidable law of life in government and in business: A change at the top invariably means that change trickles down throughout the organization.

What makes this turnover so unusual is the way it’s happening at the operational arm of a political party already in the midst of its own turmoil of identity. When you’ve got a party that doesn’t really know what it is right now, it can’t be existentially reassuring when the group that handles that party’s day-to-day operations is suddenly subject to, uh, change.

And for many loyal Republicans, there must be some concern that Steele, the committee’s first African American leader, already represents a tectonic shift in GOP symbolism. Now they’re faced with new uncertainty as Chairman Steele’s broom sweeps clean.

The adventures of Michael Steele are just beginning; where this leads is anyone’s guess. But some in the blogosphere are amused.

Like clearlythinking, at The Huffington Post: “That's beautiful. The RNC contributing to the unemployment in this country. Well, at least they don't play favorites. Maybe, when they hire new people they can say they created jobs. Ha.”
Image credit: Steele at Republican National Convention: RNC.

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