Thursday, March 12, 2009


It's quite possible that the conventional wisdom is right and Michael Steele's time as RNC chair can be measured in hours or (very few) days, all because of what he said to a GQ interviewer -- but I'm not convinced....

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

You do?
Yeah. Absolutely.

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.

When I look at the online reaction to this, it seems to me that the people who think this dooms Steele are all lefties or mainstream journalists. Righties don't seem to be calling for his head -- and yeah, that could be wagon-circling, but imagine if he'd done something really unforgivable, like expressing doubt about the universally efficacy of tax cuts, or insulting Sarah Palin. The righties would be grabbing pitchforks even as we speak.

Here's a guy who usually likes to talk tough in response to ideological impurity, Erick Erickson of RedState:

Now, to be fair, his solution is a federalist solution to let the individual states decide -- a position I favor because I don't believe it is presently possible to end abortion at the national level and this would be the result should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

Hopefully he'll clarify his position or can show he was misquoted. I hope so.

Leon points out to me in an email that the question was "have the right" not "should have the right." So it could be he was just responding with a pure statement of fact.

And here's a former RNC operative, Liz Mair, responding to Steele's abortion comments and insistence that homosexuality isn't a choice (remember, on the latter, Dick Cheney got a free pass for deviation from Correct Thinking):

First, and foremost, I'm somewhat shocked and yet pleased to see a sitting RNC Chairman explicitly state that homosexuality is not, in his view, a choice, and take what sounds like a moderately pro-choice, but anti-Roe position. I basically agree with these positions, though it is rare to find a Republican of any prominence who will take both, exactly, and I can't think of any interview I've ever read or heard where they have both been voiced in that sitting. It's nice to know I may not be the only one (or one of just ten) in the GOP who holds these views.

Steele fumbled when he said "individual" -- but he recovered, in terms of what Republicans believe is permissible, when he invoked the states. So he may be booted soon for his ongoing clumsiness -- or, because he didn't go as far over the line as many non-Republicans think, he may still survive for a while.


I do wonder, however, whether he's going to have to cancel his plans to speak at the Vanderburgh County Right to Life dinner in Evansville, Indiana, on April 16 -- a speech that might have a higher profile than you'd expect, because another attendee will be Sarah Palin. I suspect those Hoosier RTLers might not be willing to give Steele quite as much wiggle room as the GOP as a whole.


UPDATE: James Richardson, another RedStater, says Steele won't be ousted:

Greatly working to Steele's advantage are the institutional challenges to ousting a sitting chairman. According to the rules adopted at the party's convention earlier last year, Rule 5 states, "The chairman or co-chairman may be removed from office only by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the entire Republican National Committee." Then, of course, is the public relations challenge to forcibly expelling the GOP's first African American chairman – a move only the politically tone-deaf wouldn't wince at.

They did clearly pick this guy for his melanin count, outy of the belief that non-whiteness is what American voters want and that race is why Obama won. So they will tread lightly. And it looks as if Steele would be hard to oust; maybe the belief that they're stuck with him until he chooses to leave is part of the reason they're not howling for his head.

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