Steele 'not going to matter' to Republicans' 2010 strategy thanks to Karl Rove's 'coup' via 'shadow RNC'

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele is under fire from his own party once again.

But this time, he may not be getting another chance at redemption in the eyes of senior GOP leaders.

Appearing on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday, Republican strategist Ed Rollins was asked to comment on the so-called "shadow RNC" that has sprung up to bypass Steele as the Republican party's core management. Rollins has in recent months emerged as a strong Republican critic of chairman Steele, after calling for his resignation in April.

"[He’s] so immersed in controversy that he’s kind of in a bunker these days," host Bob Schieffer said, noting Steele's reluctance to appear on television. "Are Republicans going to have to do something about Michael Steele?"

"Well, there’s no time," Rollins replied, noting the upcoming election season. "Obviously he’s been a disaster. You have three men on this show -- not me, but the other three -- who have all been party chairmen and very distinguished party chairmen. Michael Steele has failed miserably in the things you’re supposed to do: raise money and basically go out and articulate the message. It’s not going to matter though -- in the 11 weeks from now, what he says and does in the next 11 weeks is not going to matter."

The reason Rollins says it will not matter is because of the so-called "shadow RNC" formed by former Bush political adviser Karl Rove and former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie, which has effectively undermined Steele's position, rendering him nothing more than a figurehead.

Rove disclosed during a July broadcast by Fox News, his part-time employer, that his American Crossroads groups would effectively benefit via financing loopholes opened by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.

That decision, reached in January of 2010, held that corporations could donate unlimited amounts of money to political organizations, which could in-turn purchase unlimited amounts of political advertising.

President Obama has assailed the court's decision as giving room for "no less than a potential corporate takeover of our elections."

"[What] is at stake is no less than the integrity of our democracy," he insisted, urging congressional democrats to develop legislation that forces political media buyers to identify themselves in their ads.

Rove and Gillespie said the American Crossroads groups aim to raise and spend over $50 million to influence the 2010 elections. IRS forms obtained by the media showed the "shadow RNC" groups had raised $4.7 million by the end of July, with just four individual billionaires cited as donating over 97 percent of the total.

Tim Dickenson, writing for Rolling Stone, called the plot nothing less than a "coup of the Republican party".

Steele, who's faced a string of controversies seemingly since he was elected to lead the RNC after President Obama's 2008 victory, has vowed to stay put. He recently caught flack from Republicans for suggesting the Afghan war was one of choice for President Obama, and a prior rhetorical tangle he had with conservative radio host and de-facto GOP mouthpiece Rush Limbaugh ended with Steele apologizing.

Whether Steele stays or not, according to Rollins and other GOP insiders, seems of little significance at this point -- so long as he keeps out of the spotlight.

This video is from CBS's Face the Nation, broadcast Sunday, August 15, 2010, as snipped by Think Progress.

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