Hurting and in disarray after a devastating election -- their second in a row -- that put a Democrat in the White House and widened the opposing party's control of Congress, Republicans can now take solace in the fact that they seem to have chosen a strong figure to lead them. We refer, of course, to talk-radio rabble-rouser Rush Limbaugh ... oh, and there's also Michael Steele.
Steele, elected last week as chairman of the Republican Party, declared in his acceptance speech that it was "time for something completely different." It's hard to tell what he meant, other than that he is a different color -- Steele is the first African American to lead the Republicans. Otherwise, he's a middle-of-the-road fiscal and social conservative who hews very closely to the official party line on most issues.
That makes him a safe choice for a party that realizes it needs to change but is conflicted about how to do it. His selection will do little to broaden the party's appeal among minorities, but at least Steele, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland, demonstrates that the GOP isn't just for Southern white men, and he might be free to criticize President Obama in ways a white party leader wouldn't.