He wasn’t my first pick, but I thought that his election was going to be a good thing for the GOP.  I thought that conservatives shouldn’t throw him under the bus after recent comments about Rush and the RNC.

Now I just wish he’d shut up.  Seriously.  (My kids would be freaking out if they read that.)  It seems like every time he opens his mouth he inserts his foot into it.  For example his comments during an interview with GQ on abortion.

GQ: Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion?
Steele: Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice.
GQ: You do?
Steele: Yeah. Absolutely.

On homosexuality:

GQ: Do you think homosexuality is a choice?
Oh, no. I don’t think I’ve ever really subscribed to that view, that you can turn it on and off like a water tap. Um, you know, I think that there’s a whole lot that goes into the makeup of an individual that, uh, you just can’t simply say, oh, like, “Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being gay.” It’s like saying, “Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being black.”

He’s backpedaled in a statement that Politico reported on.

I am pro-life, always have been, always will be.

I tried to present why I am pro life while recognizing that my mother had a “choice” before deciding to put me up for adoption. I thank her every day for supporting life. The strength of the pro life movement lies in choosing life and sharing the wisdom of that choice with those who face difficult circumstances. They did that for my mother and I am here today because they did. In my view Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided and should be repealed. I realize that there are good people in our party who disagree with me on this issue.

But the Republican Party is and will continue to be the party of life. I support our platform and its call for a Human Life Amendment. It is important that we stand up for the defenseless and that we continue to work to change the hearts and minds of our fellow countrymen so that we can welcome all children and protect them under the law.

Mike Huckabee was very concerned by these remarks and had a conversation with him today.

Michael affirms his pro-life commitment, including support for the party platform of a Constitutional amendment to protect life and his conviction that life begins at conception.   The point he sought to make was that words like “choice” and “individual decisions” have been co-opted by the left, when in fact his mother made a choice as an individual—the CHOICE to give birth to him as an unmarried college student.  It would have been easy for her to have made a choice to end his life, but she chose life.

Chairman Steele for the good of the party please focus on mobilizing the grassroots and fundraising.  Stay out of the limelight for awhile.  Remember that you assured the members of the RNC of your social conservative credentials.  Because right now if the RNC decides to throw you under the bus I really can’t blame them.

Update –  Some additional thoughts:

Noah brought up Steele’s comments about states’ rights, and that is a tension within the Republican Party.  He linked to this post that defended Steele:

He is specifically identifying the states’ right to choose, not an individual. So sit down and calm yourself, Mike Huckabee. This is the federalist case against abortion, and the appropriate case to make.  States’ rights is a far more compelling case than ‘it’s God’s child’. The GOP would to stand for the rights of the state to decide these matters. The voters, not the courts, should have the final say.

The problem with that – it’s in disagreement with the party platform.

The voters through their representatives have had their say in individual states, but have been overturned by Federal courts.  For example, Nebraska’s partial birth abortion ban, ergo it requires a Federal remedy.  Also, as Amanda points out in the comments – it is an issue akin to slavery, which should not be determined by individual states.

Essentially what would happen if Roe v. Wade was overturned would be that it would go to the states.  Who is to say that Federal courts wouldn’t get involved again?

What we need from this Chairman is a strategy and implementation of that strategy.  He needs to provide a vision forward for the party.  Instead of downplaying values that some in the GOP may not agree with – he needs to highlight that in which they may.  Ultimately as a representative of the RNC he needs to lift up the platform, not circumvent it.

The chairman’s position is to be political strategy, not policy.  He would do well to remember that, skip out on the interviews, and instead focus on working with local and state parties.

2nd Update:

Chuck Hurley who heads the Iowa Family Policy Center had this to say about Steele’s remarks:

“While there’s probably a mix of hope and optimism that a fresh face and somebody of African-American descent will be a good thing, there is some lingering hesitation among Christian and social conservatives because of his past associations with pro-abortion and pro-homosexual groups. I hope that as Chairman, Mr. Steele will expend at least as much energy reaching out to those of us who are in agreement with his party’s platform as he has to those who do not. Right now, it’s kind of a wait-and-see attitude with most people.”

3rd Update (3/13/09): The Republican National Conservative Caucus says there are 10 reasons why Steele is like to survive this.  Five reasons are here, and another five here.

Chris Cizilla quoted Ken Blackwell (who endorsed him when he pulled out):

“Chairman Steele needs to reread the Bible, the U.S. Constitution and the 2008 GOP Platform.  He then needs to get to work or get out of the way.”

Not sure I agree with Cizilla in point #3 – “If Not Steele, Who?”  We don’t need a rock star, we need a leader who will embody conservative principles.  One who will realize it isn’t the content, but it was our message and not embodying those principles that got us into trouble.

CBS News Political Director Steve Chaggaris shared, and I agree that:

Steele undoubtedly has learned a few lessons over the past couple of weeks – most importantly, that he needs to be much less candid with his opinions. He’s not a pundit anymore, he’s the chairman of a political party. He’s learning that any off-the-cuff remarks will be scrutinized by his masses much more thoroughly than they would be if he was just chatting away on Fox News.

4th Update (3/14/09): This story is boring for independents, well at least this one.

20 comments
  1. I have to say, I am starting to cringe everytime I see that there is something in print that he has said! It's disappointing too, from my observations of him on Fox News all this time these are not the sort of things I thought that I would hear coming out of him.

  2. I agree with Steele. is not the GOP for local decisions? he didn't say he was pro choice.

    “Are you saying you don’t want to overturn Roe v. Wade?
    I think Roe v. Wade—as a legal matter, Roe v. Wade was a wrongly decided matter.

    Okay, but if you overturn Roe v. Wade, how do women have the choice you just said they should have?
    The states should make that choice. That’s what the choice is. The individual choice rests in the states. Let them decide.”

  3. Very good points Shane,
    It seems like he should get his “gang” together,and then sit down and figure out what the R(conservative) message is,and then stick to it!

    Ruth

  4. It does seem like he is trying to have it both ways, saying it is an “individual” choice and at the same time saying he opposes Roe v. Wade and that it should be up to the states.

    What this boils down to, IMHO, is that he is speaking out of both sides of his mouth, trying to put a moderate face on the Republican platform without losing the anti-abortion Christian right. It's symptomatic of the breakdown going on in the Republican coalition right now.

    What amazes me is that Steele thinks so little of values voters that he is willing to toss out such a fundamental plank just to keep the party competitive. I hope stuff like this forces Christian value voters to re-evaluate their allegiance to the party of Wall Street.

  5. No, it is not up to the states. Like slavery should never have been up to the states. It is a self-evident truth that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these is Life.

  6. We already are, but there's a grassroots movement afoot to keep them honest. He keeps this up he'll be out.

    I wouldn't say there is a breakdown, I would just say Beltway people need to get back in touch with flyover country.

  7. Agreed, and that is what the platform states. If Roe v. Wade got overturned that is what would happen by default. Some states would ban it others won't. The states option won't work ultimately for the reason I just stated, and we have Federal courts that strike down state abortion restriction law (i.e. Nebraska's partial birth abortion ban, etc.).

  8. Michael Steele has been my favorite Republican since he was Lt. Gov of my dear state of Maryland.

    Now he's going to put the hippity hop into the GOP and I CAN NOT WAIT.

    Love you, cuz!

    TK

  9. Tiffy! I thought Sarah Palin was your favorite Republican?

    I'm trying to imagine what GOP Hip Hop will look like.

    Thank you for gracing my blog with your presence. Say hi to Obama for me, and may you not feel the “hope and change” in your wallet.

  10. Let me start by saying I like Micheal Steele, that being said, I think Steele is operating much like when he was in the pressure cooker race for the Maryland Senate Seat.(liberal Maryland) That was the year that Chuck Shummer tried to get acces to Steele's Credit card records. Soros and company were targeting Steele, Blackwell and Santorum BIG TIME!!! African American Democrats were coming out and supporting Steele. It was a close race. It seems that Steele is in that same tip toey mode. Being the RNC Chairman and running for senate in liberal Maryland are two very different occupations and need different goals. If the RNC chooses a different chair, I would hope that they would choose Ken Blackwell. The reason being is I think he has a good sense of where we need to go. His consession speech was very moving. His speech would have played very ,very well to the crowd that infused a TON of cash into the Mccain campain after Gov. Sarah Palin was chosen to be his running mate. Yes, Blackwell lost by a larger margin than Steele, but I think that makes things clearer. Steele may always be thinking to himself, what could/should he have done to win the Senate seat? Were as Blackwell, was/is always consistent. I hope both men success in thier personal lives as well as thier involvement in true conservatism.

  11. Blackwell was my second choice (Saltsman was my first pre-CDgate). Blackwell also appears to be a little more guarded in what he says as well. I don't think he would have to do a lot of backtracking.

  12. Shane, I love this quote made by Ken Blackwell to Micheal Steele. Ken Blackwell says this quote is made in tough love.
    “Chairman Steele needs to re-read the Bible, the U.S. Constitution, and the 2008 GOP platform. He needs to get to work, or get out of the way.”

    This was from the Fox Report from Shepard Smith

  13. I will have to read all of this later as I have to get the kids to school, but let me just say that I've been thinking that we have to find a way to reach out to the millions of people who have never voted or who haven't voted in years. My mom had not voted since Carter/Ford and had never once voted for a Republican until Sarah Palin came along. The day after Sarah Palin was introduced in Dayton, Mom went and registered to vote and she voted for McCain/Palin. There are also a lot of blacks out there who are Christians who can't be happy with the continued devolving in morality with the Democratic party. In short, we have to appeal to conservatives out there who have been disenfranchised either by both parties or by the Democrats. Also, we need to have more people addressing the claims of the conspiracy theorist movement. We're hemorrhaging voters to that movement like crazy. Becoming more liberal is not the answer!

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