In a web commentary posted Tuesday morning, "New Face of G.O.P. Brings a Brash Style," reporter Adam Nagourney warned new Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele not to get too confrontational over President Obama's "stimulus" bill (even though the GOP's unanimous "No" vote in the House last week has yet tohurt theparty politically).
The election last week of Michael Steele to be chairman of the Republican National Committee drew considerable notice, not surprisingly: he is the first African-American to hold that position in the party's 155-year history.
Yet there are other ways that the selection of Mr. Steele, a former lieutenant governor from Maryland who lost a bid for the Senate in 2006, represents a break from the Republican past. And those could prove to be more significant than race, as the Republicans debate in the weeks ahead how much "opposition" they should put in the phrase "loyal opposition." They face a president who is extraordinary popular and a nation that appears weary of partisan politics as it confronts an economic crisis.
The new face of the Republican Party does not seem to share the hunger for bipartisanship that Mr. Obama has made one of the stylistic touchstones of his first weeks in office. That became clear from the moment Mr. Steele took the job on Friday, as he all but invited the president of the United States to join him in the boxing ring.
Hechided Steele while again warning of an anti-GOP backlash for rejecting Obama's "economic recovery plan" (why not "spending plan" instead?):
The stylistic and philosophical implications of the choice became even clearer when Mr. Steele appeared before House Republicans at a retreat on Saturday. Mr. Steele celebrated their refusal to give Mr. Obama a single vote for his economic recovery plan - albeit in language that was perhaps a tad eyebrow-raising, given the soberness of the country's economic problems and the concern of some Republicans that the party was skating on thin ice.
"The goose egg you laid on the president's desk was just beautiful," he said.
If the economic plan passes Congress without significant Republican support and then does little to help the economy over the next two years, Mr. Steele's combative style could help conservatives build a case for a return to power. If the economic plan pays off, though, many Democrats suggest that he may find himself sharing blame for a miscalculation that could set the Republican Party back for a long while to come.