Congratulations to Michael Steele, who finally beat out that actual Confederate slaveowning plantation owner to become the first African-American President of the United States! Maybe we should celebrate with something fun, like a national WAR WITH IRAN, hmm? Well, even though we were *praying* for the old white guy — a member of a whites-only country club! — to come from behind and “steele” the black person’s victory at the last minute, we are “steele” satisfied with Michael “Steele.” Let’s “steele” away to our Wonkette Time Machine and revisit a hilarious chapter in state political history: Michael “Steele’s” brief and mostly unsuccessful political career in the important state of Maryland!

Michael Steele was just your average Maryland state chairman of the Republican party — a thankless job if ever there were — until 2002, when then-Congressman Robert “Bobby” Ehrlich, the Republican candidate for governor in a state that had had all Democratic governors since 1965, decided “You know what I need on my ticket is an African, to win African votes.” After an extensive search through the state ranks of the Republican party, Ehrlich’s team finally discovered one (1) of these, kidnapped him, and suddenly Michael Steele was your lieutenant governor candidate!

Ehrlich’s opponent was then-lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, one of RFK’s 74 Catholic children, who easily took the nomination because it was “her turn.” 2002 was a strongly Republican-favoring year (9/11!), and Bobby Ehrlich is basically the same person as Lee Atwater, leading to this classic, mysterious and altogether hilarious episode — perhaps the last great legend in wacky politics before the YouTube era (copied wholesale from Wikipedia, which has truly outdone itself in dry humor):

Oreo cookie incident

After a September 26, 2002 gubernatorial debate, which had occurred without reported incident, Paul Schurick, Ehrlich’s communications manager, claimed that the Townsend campaign handed out Oreo cookies to the audience. Five days after the debate, Steele said that one or more Oreo cookies had rolled to his feet during the debate suggesting a racist statement against him. “Maybe it was just someone having their snack, but it was there,” Steele said. “If it happened, shame on them if they are that immature and that threatened by me.” At the time of the debate, Schurick had not mentioned any such incident, but in November 2005 he claimed “It was raining Oreos… They were thick in the air like locusts. I was there. It was very real. It wasn’t subtle.” In a November 2005 Hannity and Colmes appearance, Steele agreed with Hannity that cookies were thrown at him. Neil Duke of the Baltimore NAACP, who moderated the debate, praised the “passionate audience” and noted their “derisive behavior” but did not see such behavior. “Were there some goofballs sitting in [the] right-hand corner section tossing cookies amongst themselves and acting like sophomores, as the legend has it?” Duke said. “I have no reason to doubt those sources; I just didn’t see it.” The operations manager of the building where the debate was held, interviewed three years after the event by the Baltimore Sun, disputed Steele’s claim and said “I was in on the cleanup, and we found no cookies or anything else abnormal. There were no Oreo cookies thrown.” Some eyewitnesses including AP reporter Tom Stuckey who was at the event have said cookies were handed out. Other eyewitnesses could not corroborate Steele and Schurick’s claim.

And… Ehrlich and Steele won the election!

Ehrlich was up for re-election in 2006, the worst year for Republicans in history, and no black lieutenant governor would help him this time (we know this as a fact, actually, because after Steele left the ticket, Ehrlich simply picked another black guy off the street to replace him, and they lost.) So Dick Cheney and some other people forced Steele to run for the state’s vacant U.S. Senate seat against Rep. Ben Cardin, whose paltry political career included such fake achievements as becoming the state Speaker of the House at age 35, and then a Congressman for 20 years.

Steele had only one option for beating boring old Ben Cardin: making a series of wacky political ads, with his dog and trashcans and a great big STEELE logo made out of actual pretend “steel,” the metal. They’re classics:

Steele was surprisingly within shooting range of Cardin on election day, and Bobby Ehrlich wasn’t completely out of his gubernatorial race either, so they conspired to close their respective races with this little bit of politicking from Gov. Lee Atwater II:

On November 7, 2006, committees supporting Bob Ehrlich’s gubernatorial re-election campaign and Michael Steele’s Maryland senatorial campaign recruited seven busloads of homeless Philadelphians to distribute fake voter guides in Maryland. The fake sample ballots, labeled as an “official voter guide”, misleadingly described both candidates as Democrats and were handed out to mostly poor and black voters in Prince George’s County in Maryland. Workers said that first lady Kendel Ehrlich personally gave them T-shirts and hats and thanked them. However, Ehrlich claimed to be unaware that these workers were hired from Philadelphia. The campaign tactic was widely criticized by Democrats for confusing and misleading voters.


And then both Ehrlich and Steele lost their elections by 10 points. Ehrlich went on to host a trashy wingnut radio show in Maryland (still on the air!), and Michael Steele became, today, the new hope for the Republican party, somehow, the end.

Steele Elected RNC Chair [Washington Post]

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  1. What I liked about Steele were his ads comparing the Demrats to the KKK and saying that Repubs freed the slaves which is sort of true except the majority of the Demrats of the KKK persuasion (minus Robbie Byrd)/ Dixiecrats decided that LBJ/MLK was not okay ’bout the Neegrohs and signed up to become the white semen coated rump that is today’s Republicon Partee.

    Message to Mike “Rusty” Steele
    Er, uh, good luck with that.

  2. Were those cookies by any chance in the shape of dried scrota? I have suspicion about who might have been behind this symbolic gesture.

  3. Jezus, that’s a long post. Did you already have this written up, you know, like the NYT or the WaPo have prewritten obits written for John Updike and Harry Reid’s testicles &tc. Y’all were dyin to run this essay. Which is very good–like many obits, also.

  4. Using homeless people, fake voter guides, voter fraud…he’s perfect for the GOP. At least the Dems know his strategy; same as the rest of the GOP kings since the Nixon era. Voter fraud = GOP victory. Glad they’ve moved on from these last two defeats and found a new and better way.

  5. Now that white guy can go back to his country club and get all kinds of sympathy because he was discriminated against, saying the RNC actually denied him a job because of affirmative action. He will be greeted as a martyr and the kitchen help will piss in his iced tea.

  6. [re=233273]Jim Newell[/re]: Nope I have all three playing at once. It’s like I’m at one of those fancy nightclub discotheque places.

  7. Does this guy have good ideas or something? Did they really just choose him because he’s black? Did they not think this through? Like, black folks LOOOOOVE Obama. He is down to earth and open and (for a politician) honest, also. What does this guy have to offer? I mean, I’m sure he hates buttsecks between hot young twinks, $32.99 a month, but…

    I’m frustrated, but do you get what I’m saying. WHAT IS THE LOGIC??

  8. Well, that signals the end of the Oreo generation. This guy will ruin the whole thing for everybody. No one is going to fall for that black face thing. Reminds me of Doonesbury’s subject matter this week. Oy!

  9. [re=233244]Red Zeppelin[/re]: When I was a little kid, I used to wonder if some other kid’s dog should be blamed if he was a jerk. I determined to be open-minded, but only because most dogs were better company than most kids.

  10. Whatever. He’s got the whitest palms of any black man I’ve ever seen. Surely this means something. And [re=233273]Jim Newell[/re]:, though all 3 clips are up, I kind of wish they weren’t.

  11. The cookie thing? Meh.

    Now, if everyone in the audience had uncles, who happened to me named Tom, and they had thrown those? That would have been offensive and hurtful.

  12. Also, if I had to hear this guy tell me the Republicans freed the slaves (implying that the Repubs of the 1860’s = Repubs of 2008), I’d toss my cookies too.

  13. [re=233245]Tommmcatt[/re]: [re=233255]Dashboard_Buddha[/re]: I was wondering about why he looked so specifically made out of chocolate, and I’m thinking it’s the complete lack of contrast between his lips and the surrounding skin. It makes him disturbingly edible and uncanny, like a if you got a chocolate RealDoll at Easter instead of a rabbit.

  14. [re=233277]Colander[/re]: The best explanation is always from an old cartoon from True Magazine in the fifties. The site is a boxing ring, and there’s a Jack Drees at ringside, and he’s leaning to the mike and he says, “Now, briefly, here’s what happened …” and up in the ring the overhead lights have fallen to flatten everybody so all you see is legs sticking out from under.

    Or, the RNC is like the Wehrmacht in 1945.

  15. I, for one, look forward to joining Rush Limbaugh in bending over and grabbing my ankles for the first black RNC chair.

    However, I have to imagine that George Allen is spinning in his grave knowing that Macaca is now in charge of his beloved party.

  16. Sure, Obama only won the presidency because he’s black, but this guy won because they mistakenly thought he was Montel Williams. To be fair, they all look the same.

  17. How charmed a life has this chocolate drop had that he had to MAKE UP a story about being discriminated against. Hell, even Oprah’s been discriminated against.

  18. well, all this about the only republican negro in the world is very
    interesting, but i want to know why the picture of sarah isn’t always
    visible like that campbell brown lady from cnn was. also.

  19. [re=233324]Texan Bulldoggette[/re]: Nah, pretty much every nerdy black guy has been called an oreo at some point. He was just reaching into his Bag O Memries and re-imagining ‘high school’ as a ‘political event.’

  20. Is it wrong that I find the oreo throwing hilarious? And that I want to find the people who did that and buy them many, many drinks?
    I didn’t think so.

    I don’t know why the GOP keeps doing this. This fools absolutely no one, especially black people (speaking as one). As a matter of fact, this pisses off black people, a. because we know what you’re doing, and b. because you’re treating us like f’ing idiots who don’t know what you’re doing. And, once again, like Sarah Palin, you’ve picked a fail. Nice job, losers. See you in 2010.

  21. [re=233300]Lionel Hutz Esq.[/re]: However, I have to imagine that George Allen is spinning in his grave knowing that Macaca is now in charge of his beloved party.

    Oh shit. If only Strom Thurmond were still alive. Wait ….

    Cut to a bunker under Fort Sumter.

    A shriveled body, just barely alive, floats in a vat of an ominous greenish liquid.

    A young aide answers a red telephone, and, stunned, repeats the dreaded message:

    “A d*rky, sir, has been elected to lead the Grand Old Party.”

    A shriveled arm emerges from the vat, middle finger extended from the shaking hand.


    The aide returns to the phone. With a voice hushed and urgent, yet somehow joyful, the aide bends to speak:


    Scramble the Red State Strike Force! The Confederate Air Force will Stand By!

    Activate the Secret Decoder Ring and summon Governor Palin!”


    The words “The South Will Fly Again” can be seen superimposed over three stuttering biplanes, flying through the stormclouds.


    A jut-jawed aviatrix, wearing a leather flying cap and a $375,015.99 silk scarf from Prada, scans the horizon, looking for socialist redistribution schemes coming in under the radar, disguised as affirmative action.


    The three moderate Republicans remaining alive, throwing martini glasses under the bushes and hurriedly pulling off their seersucker jackets, race across the Dartmouth College greensward, heading for the mountains and the Canadian border.

    Cut to

    Doffing his hanky, standing at the back door of the White House, Steele asks Obama for political asylum, and offers to pick cotton for his keep.

    The End. (Maybe)

  22. I think the Republicans are trying too hard and, while admirable in a sort of shallow, “cheerleaders make over the awkward girl” teen movie kind of way, may backfire for them. Steele? Palin? Mitt Romney must be chewing off his own leg: “Buh…buh…buht I’m a minority too!”

  23. maybe I’ve just got “Body Snatchers” on the brain but doesn’t it seem like he and his dog have exchanged heads or brains or souls or something?

  24. Those commercials really translate well to youtube. Very simple, with good pacing and not so busy they get screwed up at low resolution.

    This guy wants to help the RNC start a nuclear war, right?

  25. Oh, fine. They had to pick someone and they might as well pick this guy, right? He’s black, we have a black Preznit so he can pretend to serve as the “loyal” opposition. But, I was living in DC during this race (Ehrlich lost to Martin O’Malley, the Mayor of The Wire) and Ben Cardin is like a shadow Senator (behind Barbara and Steny). I imagine most Marylanders couldn’t pick Cardin out of a line-up (that just shows what a cipher Steele is).

  26. I just realized that that pic looks like an advertisement for Olan Mills photography. All that’s missing is the book shelf in the background or maybe the foliage scene so the dog can go pee.

  27. Nice work, Jim.

    I thought Michael Steele had at least been Governor of Maryland. Only Lieutenant Governor? Hmmm… While it’s “great” that the RNC has their First African American Chairman! it seems to remind me of their First Female Candidate for Vice President! earlier this year. As everyone on Wonkette knows, this wreaks of ripe festering pander. You know, actually this is insulting. Obviously if Barack Obama wasn’t our President, Mr. Steele wouldn’t be the RNC Chair. I mean, damn GOP how stupid do you think Americans are? Your motives are clear. True, there’s no way Michael Steele could be as functionally retarded as Sarah Palin, but still, this is clearly some really shit act to convince Americans that the GOP is the party of “change” and “diversity”. HA! Fat old white men still pull the strings. When that truly changes, your party will cease to exist.

  28. I just had to share with people that care:

    I caught the first part of Hannity Hates America, and he had Newt Gingrich on. And at the end of the segment, they said that Newt would be back later in the show with his wife, but they wouldn’t say why. Newt said he wanted the audience to guess.

    And I’m thinking, “Wow, he is going to ask his wife for a divorce on live TV. That is Newt, always topping himself.”

    I mean, what else could it be?

    [re=233332]stopmebeforeitypeagain[/re]: FTW. Reminds me of David Cross on what Strom would have said when it came out that he had a black daughter:

    The senator says the one thing he’s always said: he said he will fuck the help, but he will not give them a decent wage. He says that’s what he believes, and pussy is pussy. He says his johnson is colorblind, and it’s the bane of his existence.

  29. The Republic Party! We fulla tricks, trips and trigs! Whoops, there we go again! Hey look we found us a kellered Republickin’. Sumbuddy call them Hucklebeez…

  30. True fact about the 2002 election: even in that Republican-leaning year, the only reason Ehrlich/Steele won was because Kennedy Townsend had the misfortune to be the Lt. Governor under Paris Glendening, and basically everyone in the state fucking hated that guy. He was like Bill Clinton without even a tiny hint of charm.

  31. [re=233356]shortsshortsshorts[/re]:
    “Wandering weary midst the cocaine-white, snowy, melancholy winter woods of Central Park today, as I pondered Ronald Reagan withered in his lead-lined crypt, he waiting to rise again, mighty upon the Second Coming of the untrammeled, unshackled free market where being poor is no sin, I shared a fifth of delicate, liquid amber sweet Courvoisier and a couple of whoa-boy ‘Ludes with my Honduran maid Josilita, Maria, Delusia, whatever. Then, in a purple-deep shade grove of wet cardboard boxes, I saw a black man roasting grey squirrels, or perhaps, just perhaps, they were old Nikes from swift runners’ feet, track shoes of a world economy created by he-who-has-kept-us-safe. But, after I tazed his torn, twitching, saliva-spewed skeletal self, I asked, what could this meekly modest, dusky denizen of the urban forest dark, in a new era of promised hope and change made all socialisty glittered, see in the Republican party? Steele. Yes, Steele. After that, fuck it all, I left.”

  32. Wow, the Rethugs are just grasping at transparently token candidates – first, Caribou Barbie, “’cause she’s a cunt just like Hilary, HENGGGGGGH?”, and now the one black guy in the ENTIRE country who admits to being a ReThug “’cause all those niggers look alike, and maybe we can fool a few of ’em to vote for us next time, HENGGGGGGH?”… I wonder if Steele’s new job comes with a jockey uniform…

  33. [re=233382]assistant/atlas[/re]: But NOT this one – I’d pity the fool if he wasn’t a willing participant in this pandering tokenism, but he seems pleased to be the (rich creamy milk-chocolatey…ummm…chocolate…) face of evil and insane ReThuglican Anti-American bullshit.

  34. [re=233378]Bearbloke[/re]: Sadly, tokenism is all it will take to tip a weird ~10-15% of morons in the middle. They really need their own exalted marketing category, making up at about half of “Independents” and all of “Undecided”. They have enough modern decency to be repelled by the GOP 2008 appeals to xenophobia; they aren’t retarded/religious enough to vote on guns/gays/abortion, and they can see that Bush has been a total disaster, but they are every bit as fucking stupid as the 25% that stayed with him till the end, and they’re growing as fast as the Democrats think they are.

    This guy’s commercials are actually pretty bad-ass compared to ANYTHING that came out in GOP 2008 – “new” and “competent” is all they even needed, but McCain couldn’t take it down the court. This is the beginning of a clean-up that is enough to fool them – guys like Huckabee know this, and Palin will get it soon too. How I wish the Magic Negro CD dude had won…

  35. [re=233391]jbd[/re]: Been waitin’ for someone to remember the poor lost soul Alan Keyes. When Obama ran for US Senate in 2004, the Illinois Republicans persuaded Alan Keyes to “move” to Illinois and run against Obama. Though he had to live in a cramped post office box, Keyes got 29% of the vote.

    There’s something about Maryland. And it’s less attractive than Cameron Diaz.

  36. Who the hell has Oscar the Grouch-style galvanized steele trash cans anymore? What a tragically ham-handed anachronism.

    And so shiny and clean…

    the cans, not the new RNC chief.

    Dude will still be an insufferable prick on Maher’s show.

  37. I sniff disdainfully at Mr Steele’s Politicks, but I heartily approve his choice of Pup. Boston terriers are the very nicest dogs on the planet!

  38. Yeah, I voted for Erhlich and Steele in that election, much to my shame. However, the previous Democratic governor, Glendening, was a crook and an asshole and just about everyone in Maryland had had enough of him and his politics. As his Lt Governor, Townsend carried his taint, (Oh God, that brought a nasty picture to mind), and THAT is the only reason the people of Maryland elected a Repug gov. Erhlich turned out to be just about as bad as Glendening, and I suspect that he will be the last Repug gov for a very long time.

  39. [re=233474]Josh Fruhlinger[/re]: Where is Ehrlich today? He hangs out with the Sports Junkies on WJFK is where! Republicans – doing whatever, whenever.

  40. [re=233470]proudcitizen[/re]: Plus KKT was an awful candidate. The Kennedy kids (now in their 50s) still think they can run on Uncle Jack’s coattails (?). For all the “David Paterson is an idiot” hot air out there, Caroline would have made an awful candidate in 2010 and probably wouldn’t have gotten out of the primary. This just clears the path for Andrew Cuomo…

  41. [re=233474]Josh Fruhlinger[/re]: OH RIGHT, i got it wrong. It was O’Malley who picked a black guy, so then Ehrlich had to out-minority him and went with the insane blind lady. Ha. Black wins, still.

  42. [re=233668]PerhapsSo[/re]: Go to any white neighborhood and they will literally throw them at you as you pass. If you are not of African descent, greasepaint will get you through in a pinch.

  43. Not that I have any problem with the ineptitude, but they mimic the affirmative action policy they hate.

    OK, the dems have Hillz, get us a women! Is there a women among us? Yes her name is Sarah and shes purdy (compared to their 300lb wife).

    OK, the dems have a Barry, get us a blax! Is there a blax among us. Yes his name is Oreo and he’s 100% not gayz (look at his doggie).

  44. Not sure if anyone’s mentioned this yet, but Ehrlich didn’t just pick “another black guy off the street to replace” Steele. He picked a BLIND WOMAN. You coulda made something there, huh?
    Also: as a Maryland voter, seeing Michael Steele lead the “DRILL, BABY DRILL!” chant at the RNC was the highlight of my life. Other than voting against him for Senate, that is.

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