Republicans around the country winced as current RNC Chairman Mike Duncan and McCain Campaign Manager Rick Davis brought "a knife to a gunfight with a Chicago political thug" in the 2008 Presidential Election. (With apologies to Sean Connery, who used a similar line in the classic 1989 movie The Untouchables, the story of crime fighter Eliot Ness and Chicago's own Al Capone).
Displaying a stunning combination of arrogance and technological incompetence, the McCain campaign and the Republican Party nationally ceded the 18-29 year old vote to a finely tuned Obama Campaign that took 21st Century internet based tools and technology to an extraordinarily high level of effectiveness. Meanwhile, the lazy Republican leadership sat back smugly admiring the intellectual tidiness of its marginally free market ideology while Obama and the Democrats, among other things, built a text message data base of over 3 million young users with whom they communicated daily over the last two weeks of the campaign.
By more than a 2 to 1 margin, 18 to 29 year old voters went for Obama over McCain.
Now comes the battle for the Chairmanship of the Republican National Committee, which Mr. Duncan inexplicably does not have the grace or intelligence to resign from immediately. We're left apparently with one acknowledged failure competing with an aging genius in Newt Gingrich and an ambitious up and comer in Michael Steele, the former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and Fox News Contributor.
Mr. Duncan's candidacy is laughable.
Mr. Gingrich, on the other hand, has proved that intellectual genius and a forward thinking embrace of technology can be combined with political successes. Who can not acknowledge the impressive accomplishment of gaining Republican control of the House of Representatives in 1994 after more than forty years of Democratic misrule ?
The only negatives associated with Mr. Gingrich are his age and Presidential ambitions.
Mr. Steele's candidacy has some merit, as well, but he has yet to demonstrate a blueprint for success in 2010 and 2012.
An engaging speaker, he gains credit for his marvelous Drill Baby, Drill speech at the Republican National Convention.
The concern about Mr. Steele, however, is that he may represent more of the same old same old when jaw dropping visionary change is required.
What, for instance, is his plan to win back the 18 to 29 year old voter ?
My vote, however, for Chairman of the Republican National Committee, goes to Erick Erickson, the Editor of http://www.redstate.com and founder of the Rebuild the Party web site. Erickson is the right age, has the right vision, and has the right energy to turn things around.
Kick Duncan out of the job now, let Newt run for President, and let Michael Steele run again for Governor or Senator of Maryland. And let's breathe some innovative life and energy into the Republican National Committee.