>Steele continues to butt heads


This interview with GQ Magazine with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is creating a buzz among conservatives. The “interview” (which seems more like a friendly conversation to me) propels me to address many different issues, but I wanna just focus on the meat and potatoes of what has gotten conservatives riled up. I’ve made some of the statements that contradict the Republican platform bold. Here are some excerpts:
Gay marriage and homosexuality:

GQ: Let’s talk about gay marriage. What’s your position?

Steele: Well, my position is, hey, look, I have been, um, supportive of a lot of my
friends who are gay in some of the core things that they believe are important
to them. You know, the ability to be able to share in the information of your
partner, to have the ability to—particularly in times of crisis—to manage their
affairs and to help them through that as others—you know, as family members or
others—would be able to do. I just draw the line at the gay marriage. And that’s
not antigay, no. Heck no! It’s just that, you know, from my faith tradition and
upbringing, I believe that marriage—that institution, the sanctity of it—is
reserved for a man and a woman. That’s just my view. And I’m not gonna jump up and down and beat people upside the head about it, and tell gays that they’re wrong for wanting to aspire to that, and all of that craziness. That’s why I believe that the states should have an opportunity to address that issue.

GQ: So you think it’s a state issue?

Steele: Absolutely. Just as a general principle, I don’t like mucking around with
the Constitution. I’m sorry, I just don’t. I think, you know, in a pluralistic,
dynamic society as the one that we have, every five years you can have a
constitutional convention about something, you know? I don’t think we should be, you know, dancing around and trying to amend it every time I’ve got a social issue or a political issue or a business issue that I want to get addressed. Having said that, I think that the states are the best laboratory, the best place for those decisions to be made, because they will then reflect the
majority of the community in which the issue is raised. And that’s exactly what
a republic is all about.

GQ: Do you think homosexuality is a choice?

Steele: 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.”

GQ: So your feeling would be that people are born one way or another.

Steele: I mean, I think that’s the prevailing view at this point, and I know that
there’s some out there who think that you can absolutely make that choice. And
maybe some people have. I don’t know, I can’t say. Until we can give a
definitive answer one way or the other, I think we should respect that.

GQ: How much of your pro-life stance, for you, is informed not just by your Catholic faith but by the fact that you were adopted?
Steele: Oh, a lot. Absolutely. I see the power of life in that—I mean, and the power of choice! The thing to keep in mind about it… Uh, you know, I think as a country we get off on these misguided conversations that throw around terms that really misrepresent truth.

GQ: Explain that.

Steele: The choice issue cuts two ways. You can choose life, or you can choose abortion. You know, my mother chose life. So, you know, I think the power of the argument of choice boils down to stating a case for one or the other.

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.
GQ: Are you saying you don’t want to overturn Roe v. Wade?
Steele: 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.
GQ: Do pro-choicers have a place in the Republican Party?
Steele: Absolutely!
GQ: How so?
Steele: You know, Lee Atwater said it best: We are a big-tent party. We recognize that there are views that may be divergent on some issues, but our goal is to correspond, or try to respond, to some core values and principles that we can agree on.

Okay, you guys get the idea. Aside from my annoyance with the faux coolness attitude that Steele likes to portray for this interview, I find what he said interesting. According to the transcript, he seemed unapologetic and unsympathetic for offending the likes of Mike Huckabee and, of course, Rush Limbaugh.

Realizing he made yet another boo-boo, Steele issued a statement, “clarifying” his stance on abortion:

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 v. 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.

That wasn’t enough to soothe conservatives in the party. Huckabee fired back on his blog, calling the comments “very troubling,” even after Steele clarified his statements later today:

For Chairman Steele to even infer that taking a life is totally left up to the individual is not only a reversal of Republican policy and principle, but it’s a violation of the most basic of human rights–the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. His statement today helps, but doesn’t explain why he would ever say what he did in the first place.

Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow at the American Civil Rights Union and a former Ohio Secretary of State, also weighed in at Townhall.com’s blog:

Chairman Steele, as the leader of America’s Pro-Life conservative party, needs to re-read the Bible, the U.S. Constitution, and the 2008 GOP Platform. He then needs to get to work — or get out of the way.

Some folks have even questioned his core values and whether or not if he’s a Republican altogether.

I’ve been reading about Steele for years, but I still have no idea why he’s a Republican. I’ve yet to get any sense of deep conviction from him. Colin Powell, I got. Condie Rice, I got. I even get Clarence Thomas. But what I get from Steele feels almost like a hustle.

While I don’t question Steele’s commitment and values as a Republican, I honestly can’t see the Republicans allowing this to continue. The last thing Republicans need is another (black) man appearing to be like our president. Anyone who sounds remotely liberal Democrat (read: socialist, idealistic, etc.) or anyone who even questions the future of the party will not be able to garner enough support among the die-hard conservative Republicans who practically have a lock on the Party.

I have no opinion on the idea of getting rid of Steele–I could care less either way. But, I would not be surprised if Steele begins to tone down his comments as the Party’s strategists begin to reel him in.