by Max Brantley
Reminder: Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, will speak in Philander Smith College's Bless the Mic lecture series at 7 p.m. tonight at the college auditorium.
He's a self-described Lincoln Republican. Advice Steele: Don't brag about that at a tea party.
UPDATE: The Democratic Party of Arkansas offers a good suggestion -- ask Steele about his criticism of federal stimulus funding on places such as Philander Smith.
UPDATE II: Speaking of econmomic stimulus: A campus spokeswoman confirms that Steele will be paid an unspecifried stipend for speaking at Philander tonight, as all visting lecturers are.
DEMOCRATIC NEWS RELEASE
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele will speak tonight at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, seeing first-hand the $500,000 federal investment in the college that Steele himself opposed and recently called a 'failure.'
"While Chairman Steele is at Philander Smith, I hope he'll specifically identify which of the campus stimulus projects he believes 'failed Americans' as he recently stated," Democratic Party of Arkansas Chairman Todd Turner said. "Chairman Steele adamantly opposed the investment in Philander Smith and 36 other colleges and universities in Arkansas and the jobs those improvements created or preserved. This is an opportunity for Chairman Steele to name which educational improvements and which Arkansans employed by the projects 'failed' his standard."
Earlier this month, Steele referred to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that invested in 37 Arkansas two-year and four-year colleges and other projects across the state and nation as "an economic experiment that failed Americans." [Arkansas Democrat Gazette at Philander.edu, 8/11/09; NPR.org, 9/3/09]
Steele's pronouncement of failure came roughly a month after the initiative pumped $42.5 million into renovation, energy-efficiency upgrades, and expansion of higher-education facilities at campuses across Arkansas, creating and saving jobs in the Natural State. In fact, construction projects at Philander Smith College are already underway, paid for in part with the federal stimulus funds Steele opposed. The construction projects are designed for energy efficiency and are expected to save the college $100,000 per year in energy expenses. [Arkansas Democrat Gazette at Philander.edu, 8/11/09]
Turner originally challenged Steele to survey the good works of the projects Steele opposed for Philander Smith and other Arkansas campuses while Steele was hosting an August Republican fundraiser in Little Rock. [Arkdems.org, 8/20/09]