Will Steele Buckle Under Pressure?

Tony Perkins has given up on Michael Steele—which matters to Republicans and should matter to Steele. Perkins heads the Family Research Council, a respected traditional-values lobbying group, and he told me today that he had been working for the last year behind the scenes to advise ("prop" up might be the better term) RNC chairman Steele, whose reign so far has been nothing short of a disaster.

But even before the Voyeur nightclub fiasco, Perkins told me today, he'd lost patience with Steele, whom he describes as, at best, tone-deaf to social conservatives. Without giving a heads-up to the Bible-Belt right, Steele hired attorney Ted Olson to handle the party's legal matters on campaign-spending laws and rulings.

Olson has impeccable GOP credentials, but he's also heading a legal team trying to overturn state laws and referendums that bar gay marriage. When Perkins called Steele to complain the other week, Steele blandly replied that Olson was hired solely because of his skills as an appellate lawyer. "Michael just doesn't get it," Perkins told me.

The Voyeur incident was the last straw, Perkins said, and led him to suggest that conservatives avoid giving to the RNC.

Perkins said he expected to get a call of protest or explanation from Steele, but so far he has received none. "I don't know what that means," Perkins said.

I think I do. I think Steele is not long for the job. As oblivious as he is, he has to know that it's probably time to go.