Michael Steele, so much in the news these days as the Republican National Committee, is one of the many prominent GOP speakers at this weekend's Southern Republican Leadership Conference at the Hilton Riverside. (For all the details, check our story in this week's Gambit about the event.)
But Steele's RNC is also piggybacking on the SRLC with a smaller fundraising event of its own, "RNC's Pachyderms on the Pontchartrain," which drew fire last week from former Alaska governor Sarah Palin when it listed her name prominently on the invitation, though she wasn't scheduled to attend. (Palin requested her name be removed from the invites, a request that seems to have been granted.)
So while the SRLC members listen to speeches by Palin, Bobby Jindal, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and other heavy-hitters of the conservative movement, the RNC attendees (ensconced at the Windsor Court) will be settling for more modest names. A Friday fundraising breakfast features Reps. Rodney Alexander (R-La.) and Gary Johnson (R-N.M.), while Saturday's breakfast has a bit more firepower in the grits with Texas governor Rick Perry and former Rep. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).
Tonight, though, RNC members will have a chance to break bread with their head at Arnaud's in the French Quarter, when Steele hosts a reception and dinner at the grand old restaurant, preceded by a ceremonial second line from the Windsor Court to Arnaud's at 6:30 pm. The invite also promises "late night hospitality" on "Arnaud's Bourbon Street porch," a place which seems to be either the restaurant's dining room overlooking the street or a PC term for 'balcony.'
After drawing so much heat just one week ago after RNC revelers were found to have spent nearly $2,000 at a West Hollywood lesbian-bondage themed nightclub, the wisdom of holding a GOP reception overlooking notoriously raunchy Bourbon Street would seem to be a strange one, but there must be method to this madness, as even Palin told Fox News' Sean Hannity last night, "I think he's [Steele] doing a great job. I'm glad he's the leader of the party. I support Michael Steele."
Anyway, if you're toddling down B-Street after 9 pm, cast a glance up at Arnaud's balcony or in through its fabled glass windows, and if all is still as it was on the invitation, you might catch a glimpse of the RNC's own Steele Magnolia.