Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Update on Northup Fundraiser

Anne Northup hit the energy issue hard today at her fundraiser luncheon, which featured former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, Michael Steele, the first African-American elected to statewide office there.

Northup (like a majority of Americans) supports extracting oil located within the U.S., including Alaska and off-shore. John Yarmuth prefers that we remain at the mercy of those Arab countries that view us as the Great Satan, while we develop alternative fuels. And he'd like to bring back those wind-fall profit taxes on the oil companies in homage to Jimmy Carter. Energy will be the defining issue of the election, and Yarmuth is on the wrong side of it.

The guest-speaker at the luncheon was Michael Steele, who made his national debut at the 2004 Republican National Convention -- the same year that we first heard Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention.

It's impossible to watch Steele without comparing him to Obama. Steele is just a few years older than Obama, and like Obama is tall, articulate and speaks with a wonderful baritone voice. But whereas Obama is prone to gaffs when he goes off teleprompter, Steele speaks extemporaneously without flaw. The most significant difference between the two -- other than their politics -- is that Steele doesn't take himself so deadly seriously as Obama. He projects humor and humility in contrast to Obama's self-righteous sense of superiority.

Steele lost his bid for U.S. Senate two years ago, the same year that Northup lost her race for a 6th term in Congress. Both were candid about their individual losses, incurred at a time when the political climate had shifted for reasons outside of their control.

Steele attributed the Republican "shellacking" to a "trifecta" that included an "unpopular war, an unpopular president and an unpopular party" that had forgotten to adhere to conservative principles.

Even after the losses of 2006, Steele maintained, candidates with vision, leadership and advocacy -- like Northup -- need to continue to fight; he commended Northup for running for her seat aggressively, rather than whining or pitying herself.

Losing an election does not define who we are, Steele observed. He joked that having grown up as a "Black man, a conservative Roman Catholic and a Republican in the District of Columbia," he knew about losing. The more important issue is how to react to the loss, he said. Steele and Northup have both passed that test admirably through tenacious perserverence and adherence to principle that would well serve other Republicans to emulate in another difficult election year.

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