Chair Michael Steele, of Republican National Committee (RNC) fame, has announced that a first objective as newly elected leader of the GOP will be to reach out to the hip-hop community. He’s planning an "off the hook" public relations offensive by applying the party's principles to "urban-suburban hip-hop settings." Translation? He wants to attract younger black and Hispanic voters to the GOP.
So, just to clarify for those good ol’ country club and church-going folks still in the GOP tent, when Mr. Steele talks hip-hop, he’s not talking Bunny Hop. He wants more room for hip-hoppers and rappers, the ones you see “singin’ and dancin’” on TV. Bunnies? Hop, hop, hop to the side.
If Steele pulls it off, the GOP would certainly be more interesting. Think Queen Latifah playing footsie with Rush Limbaugh and Snoop Dogg doing it “Doggie Style” with Ann Coulter. Joe the Plumber will flash his street creds to Sarah Palin as he blasts Soulja Boy’s “Girl shake dat booty meat all up on me.”
Michael would like to be hip-hop’s Man of Steele. Yeah, and that’s about as likely as George Bush ‘fessing-up as to why he invaded Iraq and Dick Cheney saying he okayed waterboarding.
At best, before his RNC gig, Steele was an out-of-work politician. He became a glib right-wing copy reader occupying a niche on Fox cable news as a conservative black hit man with a gift for gab. His on-camera persona was sometimes shrill but always highly partisan which seemed at odds with his bald-headed attractiveness. He was touted, by some, as the GOP’s answer to Barack Obama. Of course, that kind of touting can only be coming from the same folks who gave us Sarah Palin. Remember? She was the right-wing answer to Hillary Clinton and the women's movement. For delusional right-wingers, this is par for the course.
At worst, Michael may actually be the Man of Steal. It seems the newly elected RNC chair has some explaining to do. Before he turns his talents to attracting new voters, federal prosecutors want to talk with him.
According to Alan B. Fabian, a former financial consultant and campaign worker for Steele, who is currently serving a sentence for fraud, a payment of more than $37,000 was made by Steele's Senate campaign to Brown Sugar Unlimited, a company run by Steele's sister, Monica Turner. (Monica was married to former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson. They are now divorced.) Campaign finance records list the expense as having been for "catering and web services." However, Turner had already filed papers to dissolve the company before the payment was received. In addition, his campaign finance chair has told federal prosecutors about $575,000. worth of other questionable activities.
Just what straws is Steele grasping for? Obviously, any common values shared by African-Americans and Republicans.
For instance, religion. Everyone knows that the GOP is home to many evangelicals and conservative
Protestants. Steele must believe that since African-Americans are known to value faith and religion and are socially conservative, they would feel at home in GOP pews.
And let’s not forget that many say the hip-hop/rap community is awash in guns and violence. So, while he’s at it, maybe Steele can do some recruiting for the National Rifle Association, a real favorite with GOP stalwarts.
But there’s even more. There’s homophobia. Based on religion, black church-goers are not comfortable with homosexuals. And that is also true for some hip-hoppers and rappers. Reggae artists are the most homophobic. Performers like Buju Banton and Bennie Man have recorded songs calling for the murder of lesbians and gays. And, there’s Busta Rhymes who says, “Fuck you faggot, I shot at you.” Not even Steele can sell that! The GOP would be making a serious mistake if they think that killing homosexuals is acceptable to people of faith.
Subjugation of women? Another fit. As Evangelical Christians lead the way backwards to keep women at home - barefoot and pregnant - most true believers demand that wives yield to husbands.
Michael is missing an important factor. People of faith do not like offensive language or behavior. They are as appalled as everyone else at the antics and lyrics of the hip/rap/reggae crowd. Many artists would be creatively challenged if they had to remove “ho” and “bitch” from their lyrics. And personal behavior? Most have heard about R. Kelly who has been charged and sued for everything from child pornography, to assault and sex with minors. And rap drips with female sexual servitude. What religious person accepts this?
But maybe Steele is out for something else.
What better way to galvanize and fire-up your right-wing supporters than to threaten integration with the hip-hop community? Let’s not forget 2000 and 2004, Karl Rove fired up the troops using social issues. Perhaps Steele’s role model is Rove rather than Obama. And, for conspiracy buffs, after learning of Steele’s plans, did some GOP insider leak his financial info to federal prosecutors?
As the GOP drifts aimlessly, any port in a storm might seem opportunistic. May they have as much success as they did with Sarah Palin.