Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele announced today that his party will no longer use a big tent approach to rebuild its electoral base.
Steele explained that he had decided to abandon the big tent at its current location, the gear repair counter at the REI store in Fairfax, Virginia. “There was a giant hole in the big tent, so Jack Kemp took it in for repair,” said Steele.
Steele said conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh damaged the big tent — an REI Base Camp model — during a teambuilding exercise in March in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
“Rush said he had to sleep in the big tent, but this meant there was no room in it for anyone else. And while he was in there, he burned the hole in the big tent with a lit cigar.”
Kemp, the former New York congressman who advocated broadening the party’s populist appeal, and was also the 1996 GOP vice presidential nominee, volunteered to drop off the big tent at the Fairfax REI.
However, on May 2 Kemp passed away from cancer, “and now no one knows where the claim check is,” Steele said.
Steele went on to say he tried to get REI to make an exception, without success. “It’s like that green-vested woman didn’t know who I am. And then I remembered: REI is a cooperative, it spreads the wealth among its members,” he said, making airquotes with his fingers.
“I think we all know what that means.”
A committee of GOP moderates led by former Secretary of State Colin Powell has started shopping for a new big tent. But an overwhelming number of Republicans question whether a new big tent is even necessary.
“In view of the Obama recession, the $400 to replace the big tent is an expense we can’t afford,” said former vice president Dick Cheney.
Speaking on the CBS News program Face The Nation on Sunday, Cheney told host Bob Schieffer that any conservatives in need of shelter can huddle in Limbaugh’s ample rain shadow.
“What’s more, his Docker pleated slacks have vast quantities of twill that make for an excellent windbreak,” Cheney said.