The first battle of the war for the soul of the GOP has been fought, and in a desperate bid to keep up with the democrats they pretty much elected the only black guy in the room as chairman.

Before I progress further, I would like to clarify that I in no way wish to demean Mr. Steele himself; I know little of him but I surmise that he must be a rather skilled politician being that he managed to get elected as a republican in decidedly blue Maryland (Obama margin of victory in Nov: 25 points). Plus he’s a former member of the Republican Leadership Council, which among other things sought to reduce the influence of social conservatives on the party after the thrashing they recieved in 2006. Of course this led to many in the GOP to accuse him of being too moderate to lead, which is why it’s good for them that they chose him in spite of themselves: he’s exactly what they need at a time when the GOP needs to play to the center not just in order to regain pwoer but simply to survive as a national party.

However, while I find no fault with Mr. Steele (outside the usual political differences), I have to once again question the GOP’s motives in selecting him. I see this more as a happy accident than something that was planned as the brilliant move it may end up being. Being that the GOP has always suffered from a lack of minority support compared to the democrats since the 1960s, it seems like one of the few african-american members of the party is being elevated simply as a counterbalance to Obama. It’s the political equivalent of Keeping Up With the Joneses, and the GOP seems to hope to capture some form of “Obama Magic” for themselves, or at least be able to say to black america “look at us, we care about you guys, too!”

Of course I’m sure no few political junkies from across the ideological spectrum are slavering at the thought of what this could portend for 2012: If both Steele and Palin were to run for the GOP nomination it could result in another Clash of the Titans on the scale of the Obama/Clinton slugout. Whether the results would be good or bad for the GOP depends, as so many other things do, on where Obama and the Democrats stand in the polls at that point.

In the meantime though, the battle has been won, but the GOPocalypse is far from over…