Shortly after being elected RNC chairman on Friday, Michael Steele declared, “We want you to work with us, and for those of you who wish to obstruct, get ready to get knocked over.” Today on Fox News, Steele elaborated on these comments:
And for those Democrats and others who just want to put up roadblocks and do the crazy typical play that they normally do — the name-calling, the obfuscation, and the sleight-of-hand — I don’t have time for it. Because there are important issues we have to face on the economy, the war, and issues that affect the poor, and I want to have this party in a position to move on those issues.
Ironically, what he described is exactly what House Republicans have been doing over the past week on the economic recovery package. President Obama repeatedly met with Republicans to get their input on the bill, but instead of working with him on “the economy…and issues that affect the poor,” they made a pact to all vote “nay.”
When host Chris Wallace pointed out to Steele that conservatives may come off looking like obstructionists, Steele simply replied, “I think you propose something that is not in my best interest, why am I an obstructionist if I don’t agree with it?” Watch it:
The point is not simply disagreeing or holding out for better provisions. What conservatives did over the past week is obstruction for anticipated political gain. In fact, they were “delighted” and “celebrating” the fact that they all did nothing to help the struggling economy after Wednesday’s vote, hoping the bill failed so that Democrats would be blamed.
Steele repeatedly said that conservatives have all these new ideas to offer to the public. But what are they? So far, they seem to be a recycling of failed, rejected ideas. House conservatives have advocated a return to Bushonomics, even though those policies helped the country reach the condition it’s currently in.
Today, Steele also said that he wanted to use the “Contract With America” — a 1994 document created by Tom DeLay and Newt Gingrich — as a model. But as Judd Legum notes, “polls showed the vast majority Americans had never heard of it. Of the few that did know, half said it made them less likely to vote Republican.”
WALLACE: I want to start with something that you said in your victory statement on Friday, just after you were elected by the RNC.
STEELE (VIDEO): We want you to work with us, and for those of you who wish to obstruct, get ready to get knocked over.
WALLACE: Who were you talking about? Who do you think may want to obstruct?
STEELE: I’m thinking both inside and outside the party. I think it’s now an opportunity for us to move this party forward on the ideas that matter to the voters, and so I’m not in the mood for people to say, “We can’t, we’ve always done it this way, it’s impossible to do.” I mean, I was told that in making this run. And I was told that when I decided to run for lieutenant governor of Maryland.
So the idea that the opportunity presents itself and you fail to rise to it because someone is standing in your way, to me just doesn’t sit well. So I wanted to make it very clear from the very beginning, my goal is to move this party forward. We’re in the business of winning elections. And so I’m expecting my grassroots, the state parties, the national organization, to get on board, to get on the page, that is a winning page.
And for those Democrats and others who just want to put up roadblocks and do the crazy typical play that they normally do — the name-calling, the obfuscation, and the sleight-of-hand — I don’t have time for it. Because there are important issues we have to face on the economy, the war, and issues that affect the poor, and I want to have this party in a position to move on those issues. [...]
WALLACE: Mr. Obama has a 70 percent approval rating. Eighty percent of the country said they want the Republicans to work — not necessarily agree with — work with President Obama. Are you saying the GOP should just ignore him?
STEELE: No, I’m saying the GOP did what the GOP had to do to protect the pocketbooks and interests of the American people. That’s a bad bill. It’s not a stimulus bill, it’s a spending bill. Let’s call it what it is. Don’t tell me I’m going to give you a third tax cuts and then I’m going to spend two-thirds of that. It’s crazy. So I called it what it is.
The Republican Congress did a great job drawing the line. I hope the Senate members will follow with the House leaders in making certain we do not spend the American people’s money that’s proposed. That’s not a good plan.
WALLACE: But Chairman Steele, if you come up with a bill that is passed by the House and the Senate, and every House Republican member votes against it, and every Senate Republican member votes against it, you don’t think there’s any danger they’re going to be seen as obstructing?
STEELE: I think you propose something that is not in my best interest, why am I an obstructionist if I don’t agree with it? Why should I agree with something just because you proposed it? Why should I agree with it just because you have a 70 percent approval? You can still be wrong with a 70 percent approval rating. And that’s the reality here.
Wrong, Mr. Steele. You are not obstructionist if you don’t agree with it. You’re obstructionist if you claim you can’t support the bill unless certain things are changed, and when those things are changed to your liking, you vote against it anyway. That’s obstructionist. And then to have Senate Republicans threaten to filibuster the bill, just because they don’t like it, is obstructionist.”