by Kevin Allman
As we posted this morning, Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele is appearing ohsobriefly at this weekend's Southern Republican Leadership Conference, at a time when the RNC rank-and-file seem exasperated with Steele and not in a mood to give (as The Washington Post put it, "At SRLC, mixed support for Steele from RNC members").
But the RNC chairman is also hosting an official, concurrent event, "Pachyderms on the Pontchartrain" (why not "Mastadons on the Mississipp'?) that's a fundraiser for the RNC, and tonight the agenda was clear: a 6 pm cocktail gathering at the Windsor Court Hotel, followed by a 6:30 pm second line from the Windsor Court to Arnaud's restaurant, where RNC donors would have dinner. The official invite:
All this was to be taking place as Liz Cheney, Newt Gingrich, J.C. Watts and Mary Matalin would be at the Hilton Riverside, addressing the SRLC -- and, frankly, a second-line down Canal Street with Michael Steele sounded like more fun, so I went by the Windsor Court at 6 pm.
There was no brass band in evidence. No handkerchiefs for waving. No sign of a second-line whatsoever. The only politician I saw was Ed Murray at the Polo Club Lounge ... but I did come across another reporter who'd had the same idea, to beard the chairman in his den. We were flummoxed. Where was Steele? Where were the people who were to have dinner with him? Where was the second line?
A Windsor Court employee was no help -- the second line was not on the hotel's list of activities that day (and you can't exactly hide a brass band), so the other reporter and I each phoned Arnaud's, where a helpful person informed us that: a) the RNC fundraising dinner had been rescheduled to 9:30 pm; and b) the reservation had gone from 50 people to 12.
Discouraged, we trudged back to the SRLC meeting at the Hilton for a couple of hours, where a few thousand Republicans were feasting on red-meat speeches by Matalin and Cheney ... but I couldn't shake Steele and the thought of his failed dinner party, so I headed over to Arnaud's, where someone else confirmed the sad news: the RNC dinner had been moved out of prime time to 9:30 pm, and the guest list winnowed to 12 people. And by that point my feet hurt and my camera was out of juice, so I had a drink in the bar and a bowl of gumbo and made it home by 9.
Mr. Steele, sorry about your party, but at least we know the food was good.