GOP Chairman Steele's Visibility Draws Detractors

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From the Washington Post:

The camera pans across a bucolic river and a sunny cornfield, an American flag flapping in the breeze, as narrator Michael S. Steele waxes about the freedom to dream and achieve. Then, with the Statue of Liberty sweeping into the shot, comes a dire warning that freedom is fragile: Democrats, he says, are “experimenting with America.”

The camera zooms in on a bespectacled Steele, who asks viewers for donations. “Our freedom,” he says with a smile, “it’s worth fighting for.”

The television advertisement, which aired in selected markets last month, is vintage Steele — affable, charismatic and seizing the spotlight. But the ad’s star is not running for anything. He’s the chairman of the Republican National Committee, with a mandate to promote his party rather than himself.

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Steele has put a public face on what had been largely a behind-the-scenes job, hoping to foster what he has called a “hip-hop” Republican renaissance. That high profile has been accompanied by a record of lavish spending and a string of gaffes, leading some party activists to complain that Steele revels in the perks of the office while neglecting some of the onerous work necessary to reclaim majorities in the House and Senate. This narrative grew more damaging last week with the disclosure that RNC staffers approved a $1,900 bill at a Hollywood nightclub that features topless dancers mimicking lesbian sex acts while wearing bondage gear.

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