Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Triple-Crossed! Martinez won't actually run the RNC...

Ahhhh, the tricks Republicans will play.  We all saw the Republican outrage over what the conservative bloggers called Hispandering and Hispanicking by selecting Florida Senator Mel Martinez to chair the RNC, instead of their general favorite, failed Maryland senate candidate Michael Steele.  There was, in addition to the outrage, disbelief about the idea that Martinez would actually hold on to his Senate seat as well, and try to do two jobs at the same time.

It looked as if the GOP had double-crossed its base to pander to the Hispanic--and more particularly the Cuban--voter.  And they had...or so it seemed.

But now, it's a triple-cross.  If we actually go down the rabbit hole, it looks like the behavior of the RNC just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser.  At this point, I would be truly embarrassed to be a registered Republican--just on the basis of these shenanigans currently taking place.

From Forbes Magazine on the supposed appointment of Martinez:

Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, a prominent Hispanic who previously served in President Bush's Cabinet, will assume the high-profile post of Republican National Committee general chairman, GOP officials said Monday.

Martinez, 60, will remain in the Senate when he takes the reins of the RNC in January, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid pre-empting a formal announcement. The first-term senator will be the face of the party, focusing on fundraising, outreach and travel to promote the GOP agenda.

At the same time, Mike Duncan, the RNC's current general counsel and a former party treasurer, will be named chairman and will be put in charge of running the everyday operations at the party's Capitol Hill headquarters, the officials said.

So, what this means is that Martinez won't actually be in charge.  He will be the "public face" of the RNC and perform fundraising duties, but Mike Duncan, longtime RNC operative, will actually be running the show.  If there was any doubt that we have what the Freepers call a Hispander here before, there's no longer any doubt.

And just to be perfectly clear: Dean runs his own show at the DNC.  There's no split chairmanship there.  Mehlman also ran his own show at the RNC.  No split.

Now, a split chairmanship of the national committees is not unprecedented, but it is pretty rare:

Splitting the chairmanship in two is not new.

President Reagan once chose Sen. Paul Laxalt of Nevada to be general chairman while Frank Fahrenkopf was chairman, and President Clinton initially had Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Don Fowler share the Democratic Party role in the same fashion.

Kerry Feehery, a Martinez spokeswoman, and her counterparts at the RNC declined to comment.

No doubt they did decline.  So Martinez is going to be in charge of fundraising and be the public face.  The only problem?  He's not exactly the best fundraiser, having managed to raise only $1,909,404 in 2006 to help out Republican candidates.

Meanwhile, of course, his record in just a few short years in the Senate is one of incredible bungling and incompetence--mentioned outright in the Forbes article, surprisingly enough:

Martinez served as Bush's secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2001 until 2003, when he resigned to run for the Senate seat left open by Democratic Sen. Bob Graham's retirement.

In a race marked by hard-hitting television ads and squabbling over Iraq, Martinez was elected with 49 percent of the vote - a slim margin that was credited to Bush's win in that state.

Early in his Senate tenure, Martinez faced a politically unflattering situation.

A Martinez aide wrote a one-page unsigned memo that laid out the political benefits of getting involved in the fate of Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman whose end-of-life battle became a rallying cry for conservatives. Senate Republicans disavowed the memo. Its author resigned.

Before serving in the Cabinet, Martinez's national profile was raised as the drama surrounding a Cuban boy named Elian Gonzalez unfolded in 2000.

The top county official in Orange County, Fla., at the time, Martinez argued on national television talk shows and before a U.S. Senate committee that the boy should stay in the United States. He also invited Gonzalez to Walt Disney (nyse: DIS - news - people ) World before the boy was returned to Cuba.

So let me get this straight: the Republicans needed a Hispanic name to pander to the Hispanic vote--but they didn't need one bad enough to select a Mexican, instead of a Cuban.

They needed a Hispanic to be in a position of power to pander to the Hispanic vote--but they didn't need one bad enough to actually give him power.

They needed a person to do some fundraising for the RNC while the white people who got the real respect in the RNC did the dirty work--but they didn't need one bad enough to get a good fundraiser.

AND they managed to infuriate their xenophobic base all at the same time.

This whole thing was, in short, a triple-cross of stunning arrogance, mendacity, and sheer stupidity.  But that seems to be the Republican trifecta these days, doesn't it?


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