“He understands where the party needs to go, he has got a strong set of principles, he is well able to articulate a message in all the media forms, and can take that message to the growing areas of the country — youth and minorities — and he does very well with women. He is the future of the party.”
Michael Steele, in other words, would be an affirmative action pick.
I don't mean that as a knock on Steele. Much the opposite. I think that Steele demonstrates the way that affirmative action makes sense as a component of meritocracy. Republicans know that they can't keep winning if they get dominated competing for American youth and American Blacks. Ta-Nehisi Coates loves to harp on the point that African-Americans aren't actually that liberal, they just view the GOP as a racist party. Nominating Steele to the chairmanship of the party helps counter that sentiment, thus accomplishing something of tangible worth that they can't get with yet another old White dude. If Democrats, deciding they needed to work harder to appeal to Appalachian Whites, nominated someone like Heath Shuler or another Democrat with demonstrated appeal to hard-scrabble, mountain Whites, nobody would question his qualifications (they might question the strategy), even though Shuler is roughly as obscure as a one-term Lieutenant Governor of Maryland who got mauled when he made a bid for Senate.
Of course, whetheer Steele will succeed in appealing to young or Black voters is a dicey proposition. But the thought process is affirmative action personified, and not in a bad way.