Thursday, March 12, 2009


Back when Michael Steele, who once had a reputation as a moderate was elected as the chair of the RNC, I predicted that one of two things would happen, and then settled on the second as being the more likely.

The first possibility would be that he would actually try to lead the GOP in the direction that it needs to go-- to stop heading straight over the cliff of failed conservatism and irrelevance and move the party back towards a relevant position in American policy-making by supporting candidates who were willing to break with party orthodoxy. In this vision Steele would have the courage to take bold and perhaps unpopular, but necessary positions that would make the Republican party more appealing to Americans who have been repelled by the narrow focus of the party fixated on tax cuts and a twentieth century social agenda that is increasingly stale and outdated. In other words, it was my hope that Michael Steele, the man who in 2006 as a candidate for Governor of Maryland described the 'scarlet letter R' next to his name on the ballot, would understand the problems facing the modern GOP and have the boldness to take on the establishment in the party.

The second possiblity, which I predicted was that he would put all that aside and kowtow to the party komissariat and become just another conservative mouthpiece.

Well, it certainly was not the first possiblity, I was right about that (unfortunately). If anyone has any doubts about that, see his recent kissing up where he paid tribute to Rush Limbaugh and apologized profusely for saying that what Limbaugh says on the air is often 'ugly and incendiary.' So much for any hope that Micheal Steele will actually provide any steel to the GOP.

But now, he's also made one gaffe too many, and let his inner moderate come out-- not in the controlled and deliberate manner that would have served the GOP well, but in an accidental slip of the tongue that he had to take back right away. Michael Steele said in a Feb. 24th interview with GQ that abortion is an 'individual choice,' and that he therefore opposes a Constitutional amendment to ban it.

He quickly reversed himself and said that in fact he does favor such an amendment in a statement he issued today.

But already the hotheads in the GOP are all over him for it, and some are demanding his resignation. Failed Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who has appointed himself the guardian of all things socially conservative, threated that because of Steele's comments the party stands to lose many of its members and a great deal of its support. The fact that the reason the GOP is in the shape it is now is because of the members it's already lost that Huckabee has no plans to get back notwithstanding, the message is clear, that Steele is hurting the party.

Here is the sad thing: I actually believe that Michael Steele probably does believe that what Limbaugh says is ugly, and that abortion is an individual choice. He said those things because he believes them. But he has not the strength of conviction he would need to stand behind those statements, i.e. to stand up to the powers inside the Republican Party, and so he is in no man's land-- trying to be another GOP mouthpiece but not quite as suited for it as someone who actually believes what they are saying.

So in the end he is neither the leader the GOP needs nor the illusion of a leader the GOP wants.

1 comment:

x4mr said...

Well said, and it is painful to watch Steele's retractions.

I cannot imagine what it must be like to belong to a party that squashes freedom of thought.

I don't how the GOP can possibly think it is going to reach out to larger numbers while becoming more obstinate.

Steele clearly gets the sexual preference thing, acknowledging it is no different from race, gender, eye color, etc.. He made the mistake of acknowledging this awareness.

If the GOP tosses the thinking and then apologetic Steele for a unthinking misogynist, racist, homophobic ideologue who thinks the Grand Canyon is 6000 years old, uh, OK.