Steele in ChargeI don't know how much the choice of a party head means these days. There was general derision among the wingnuts when Howard Dean was chosen for the DNC a few years ago (and not a little trepidation among Democrats) but I maintain that it was primarily his work on the 50 State Initiative (well, that and the idiot in the White House at the time) that won Congress back in 2006 and paved the way for Obama's strategy in 2008. The prevailing strategy had been to shore up the base and nibble away at the margins (hey, it worked for Rove) but the Dean strategy netted a real majority instead of a razor-thin margin. The choice of Dean also signaled the rise of the netroots, which clearly had an impact on Obama's victory. So yeah, they can make a difference.
So what do you take away from the RNCs choice of Michael Steele (Lt. Gov Maryland)? The guy that in his run for the Maryland Senate in 2006 worked together with the Republican gubernatorial candidate to bus in homeless people from Philadelphia to pass out fliers in poor areas of Baltimore that listed both candidates as Democrats. The guy whose campaign handed out "Steele - Democrat" signs and bumper stickers. He's said some things that I thought were outright wacko but on the other hand, pretending you're a Democrat in Maryland doesn't strike me as stupid. It'll be interesting to see what his ideas for rebranding the GOP are over the next few months.