Friends and Enemies

Not long along, Michelle Steele, a conservative Board of Equalization member, attended a fundraiser for Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang.  Steele and Kang have known each other for years and there’s a healthy degree of mutual respect and friendship between the two.  That’s a good thing and a healthy thing.

But this appearance launched much teeth gnashing among the conserverati in Irvine and Orange County.  Sources tell us this pressure against Steele began in Irvine Council member Steven Choi’s office and extended to last weekend’s Western CPAC meeting where longshot conservative political hopeful Megan Barth complained about Steele’s apperance at the Kang fundraiser. 

Under pressure, Michelle Steele emailed a statement to Red County on this issue.

The statement reads:

As a proud Republican with a strong record, I continue to show my unwavering support for the conservative principles that are the core of the Republican Party. I challenge anyone to find a Republican elected official’s record of support for Republicans in Orange County that exceeds mine.

I made a mistake by appearing at a political fundraiser for Mayor Sukhee Kang. My decision to go to Kang’s event was wrong, period.

I want to be clear that I have not and will not endorse Sukhee Kang for Mayor of Irvine.  

No Republican candidate has come to me to ask for support in the Irvine Mayoral race. If a credible Republican candidate enters the race, I will endorse and support that candidate.

Michelle Steel
Board of Equalization Member

My first thought is “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” 

Under political pressure from her party, Steele is throwing her friendship with Mayor Kang under the bus simply because he isn’t a conservative Republican.  Mayor Kang has a strong track record of being inclusive and a commitment to diversity.  He continues to enjoy strong support from Irvine’s Korean community and works well with Republican leaders.

The pressure applied to Steele by the conserverati in OC and Irvine is downright shameful.  And quite frankly, if this is the sort of thing that speaks poorly on the chracter of Ms. Steele and Republicans here who place party over everything else.  No one can tell you who you’re allowed to be friends with.  If you are friends with Ms. Steele, watch your back.  If she lacks the backbone to tell her party where to stick it when it comes to her own personal relationships, what sort of friend can you expect her to be?  Certainly not someone you can count on. 

There’s an important distinction Ms. Steele makes. “When a credible Republican steps forward to run to mayor, I will endorse and support that candidate.”  Is Barth credible? Nope; she exaggerated the number of Tea Baggers protesting in Santa Ana on April 15.  Is Christina Shea credible?  Only if you’re number one goal is to make Irvine a more romantic city.  Steele’s endorsement isn’t worth the breath it takes to utter.  Be careful what you ask for Republicans.

This weekend, during Irvine’s Harvest Cup tournament (won by my daughter’s team), one of the teams we beat was coached by a friend of mine.  We coached together when our daughters were 5.  He’s a former Lincoln Club board member and we had good spirited rubs at each other’s party over the years. But if someone were to suggest that I couldn’t be a “good Democrat” by being his friend, I’d tell that person exactly where to stick it. 

It’s time Michelle Steele assesses the value of friendships over political party affilitation.

  9 comments for “Friends and Enemies

  1. Allan Bartlett
    October 24, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    How would you feel Dan if your hero Hillary Clinton or Barbara Boxer endorsed and raised money for Christina Shea because they share the same gender?

  2. Dan Chmielewski
    October 25, 2009 at 11:44 am

    You mean like when Joe Lieberman spoke on behalf of John McCain? I didn’t noticed the Dems stripping Lieberman of any of his committee chairs.

    Allan, I have plenty of Republican friends. But the minute my party affiliation comes before friendship is a sad day. I know for a fact Steele has faced an endless tirade of crap from Republicans over this and if she had the spine to tell you all where to stick it, I’d have an ounce of respect for her. As it stands now, this is one of the reasons why so few people identify themselves as Republicans these days.

  3. Allan Bartlett
    October 25, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    I have plenty of Democrat friends as well Dan, but you and I are not high ranking elected officials in our respective parties. What don’t you answer my question. How would you and other Irvine Dems feel if Hillary or Boxer endorsed Christina Shea?

  4. Dan Chmielewski
    October 25, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    You’re giving me a strawman argument Allan. It’s the same argument Republicans posed that disgruntled Hillary voters would flock to Sarah Palin based on gender.

    But how about a real world example for you; Mitch Goldstone ran with the progressive slate and barely lost to Shea. He then backed Shea in the last election. I like Mitch. I consider him a friend. And I still bring work to his shop edvery time I need photo services because I value his friendship over party. Which is more than I can say for what your fellow Republicans did to Steele. She and Kang have ben friends for years and her statement about her mistake speaks volumes about her character and the chracter of your party.

    And it’s pathetic.

  5. Richard Bertsch
    October 25, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    This episode emanates from a good will gesture by Michelle who simply stated Korean American community should be proud of Sukhee Kang’s service as the Mayor of Irvine (a good gestured comment for KA community consumption) just as the community is proud of Michelle’s achievement. The true evil can be found in the fact that a jilted lover (in his own warped mind) throwing crap everywhere when the simple fact is neither Michelle endorsed nor helped raise money for Sukhee. The participants at the fundraiser would have been there with or without Michelle’s appearance because those Korean American donors are proud of both Sukhee and Michelle, and give money to both. For the record, they may differ on party affiliations, but they both have long history of Korean American community activism and ensuing freindship forged on mutual concern for the community’s well being. It was an appearance by Michelle to tell the Korean American participants that the community should support worthy fellow Korean American elected officials since there are so few in the community compared to the overall achievements and numbers of Korean Americans residing in So Cal; in fact, there was a healthy dose of jokes by Michelle about how unfortunate that Sukhee is a Dem and vice versa. Participants had good laugh over the whole banter. Michelle’s and Sukhee’s mutual friendship obviously played in Michelle’s appearance, but if any Reps to think that Michelle will morph into a Dem, and the Great Dem Endorser, they should ask Shawn Steel, who guards Michelle’s household, first.

    But I would also like to convey my great displeasure at the tone questioning Michelle for what has transpired. This whole saga is a sad episode reflective of what this country has degenerated into; Michelle is victim here, a victim of bumbling political assassination, and I would not aim ANY, even a TINY ounce of criticism at Michelle, period. We should aim squarely at “you know who” for stirring up much ado about nothing which unnecessarily put Michele in an untenable position especially in light of the sultry mood California Reps are mired in these days.

  6. Richard Bertsch
    October 25, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    As for Mr. Bartlett’s simplified question,
    1. Michelle never endorsed Sukhee so the question is misguided to begin with; since when an expression of friendship at a fundraiser became an “endorsement”?
    2. To ask a valid question, it should be predicated that “Hillary and Barbara had long term friendship with Christina”;
    But now,
    3. In a true case of politics, President Bill Clinton DID ENDORSE eventual Mayor Reardon of Los Angeles during the L.A. mayoral election in 1993 over then Dem candidate Mike Woo, and as much as Dems did not like it, no one heckled him, no one forced Bill to issue a regret letter…and TECHNICALLY, city elections are non-partisan.

  7. Richard Bertsch
    October 26, 2009 at 12:05 am

    In the interest of accuracy, I would correct the item #3 as “President Clinton” practically endorsed Reardon, by issuing such a Luke warm endorsement to Councilman Mike Woo…and belatedly with the statement that reads in part; “I endorsed Mike Woo not because I have something against his opponent…”

  8. October 26, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Ricahrd — Thanks for your thoughtful responses. We agree the bad guys here are the Republicans who pressured Steele into making the statement. But isn’t chracter the ability to handle that pressure and telling those applying it where they can stick it? Michelle didn’t do that, so she does share some of the blame here too. But we agree that people like Choi and Barth who continued to make this an issue do themselves and their party no good. This is a party that marches in lockstep and falls in line. Opposing opinions are forbidden.

  9. Dawn
    October 27, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    I think this is ridiculous. There is nothing wrong with reaching out across the aisle. The Republicans just show that they are bullies, plain and simple. It’s their way, or the highway. This kind of black and white thinking is outdated.

    And for the record, no, I wouldn’t care if a Democratic politician showed up at an event for a Republican. There are (or were…) many moderate Republicans that I have no issues with. Unfortunately, they are being shoved out of their party by the American Taliban.

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