What's the first thing that pops into your head when you think of the tenure of Michael Steele as RNC chairman? Is it the $2,000 the RNC spent at a bondage-themed nightclub? Is it the time he called the war in Afghanistan a "war of Obama's choosing"? Or the time he called abortion an "individual choice," contrary to the beliefs of the vast majority of his party? Or that he charges $20,000 per speech, even though former RNC chairmen typically did speaking appearances for free? Or the time earlier this year when he said the GOP wouldn't win back the House and he wasn't sure whether they were ready to govern? Or is it his repeated use of the race card to explain why he has been criticized for the aforementioned transgressions?
Truth be told, those are only some of the gaffes and/or distractions that come to mind when talking about the reign of Michael Steele (hip-hop makeover!). Sure, Steele also presided over one of the biggest electoral victories in American history this year, but it's hard to attribute that success to him in any way, since the RNC's fund-raising operation performed much more poorly than in years past.
Which is not what you want out of an RNC chairman. You want someone who is very good at raising money and not very good at providing late-night comedians with joke fodder. Steele excelled at neither of those things and reportedly lacks the support inside the RNC for another term. Which is why he's expected to announce today that, facing about half a dozen challengers for his post, he'll step aside.
Update: Fox News is now reporting that Steele intends to run for another term and is "amused by false reports of his retirement." [Fox News]