michael steele doesn’t get it

This started out as such a brilliant idea — getting one of those “clean and articulate” African-Americans Vice President Biden always talks about to be the new chairman of the RNC. Then the Republicans’ grand plan started to unravel. The first strand was Steele v. Rush.  Attacking Rush Limbaugh always gets you points with the Democrats and with the leftist media, but it doesn’t do much to keep the support of the conservative base of the Republican party. What I believe Chairman Steele fails to understand about Rush’s influence is that he expresses what the majority of his audience already believes.  Rush Limbaugh is not the leader of the Republican Party, and he would never want to be. That’s not his job.  He is an entertainer, as Steele said, but he is also an important voice for conservatism. In addition to the occasional mindless drone who looks to Rush to tell him/her what to think and believe everyday, Rush’s audience also includes grassroots activists who are motivated by their ideology to volunteer for the party in their local communities, and to encourage others to do the same. In the Steele v. Rush debate, all the Chairman accomplished by his scattershot comments is to alienate many of my fellow conservatives who wish to be included in this new big tent we are creating in the party with all those important moderates and independents. In the absence of Republican leadership, many voices clamor to be heard, and there is much competition to be the most powerful and influential representative of my party.  Right now that person doesn’t seem to be the chairman of the RNC.

The second so-called controversy that’s currently getting airplay is about his comments on abortion in GQ, and how he believes that it’s a woman’s “individual choice”. Well, yeah. Of course it is.  I’m not sure we can win hearts and minds to the pro-life position by arguing over this point. I don’t think that this says anything significant about Michael Steele’s personal beliefs on the abortion issue, although those who were initially skeptical about his abortion views won’t be reassured by his current comments on the subject. While there may be room for a difference of opinion among my fellow Republicans on abortion, ultimately the Republican Party is and always has been a pro-life party. Social conservatives have a home in this party, and they make up a significant portion of the grassroots army the Republicans need to win elections. That’s why the current mindset of our RNC chair is troubling to me. He doesn’t seem to understand a significant portion of the people he represents, and yet he wants to expand our base to include moderates and independents. This would mean watering down the principles we claim to have always stood for, even if the execution of those ideals has never been perfect.  If he can’t keep the trust of the base, then all the moderates and independents he could gain won’t do much to our electoral prospects going forward into ’10 and ’12.

Do I think we should throw Michael Steele under the bus?  Not yet.  Possibly not at all.  The Democrats managed to succeed in spite of Howard Dean, didn’t they? Right…so there is still hope for the RNC to get its act together in time for the next election.


I get the frustration with the Republican candidates currently running for President among the social conservative types.  Every single interest group has some bone to pick with the top three – Rudy, Mitt, or Fred — so nobody is happy with those choices.  If only Brownback, or Hunter, or Huckabee only had more money — the social conservatives would rally around one of those candidates and they would be happy. Maybe the situation will change with Huckabee, but I just don’t see it happening for any of the other so-con approved candidates.

As a social conservative myself, I have reservations about Rudy Giuliani as far as what kind of judges he would nominate to the Supreme Court.  I am also concerned that his stormy personal life may become an issue later on in the campaign, although I’m not sure why Hillary would want to start that kind of discussion if she’s the Dem nominee.  What is working in Rudy’s favor is his record in NY, as well as his leadership on 9/11. The latter is the main reason many social conservatives have given him their support.  I haven’t decided to support Rudy yet, although I might change my mind later on.

My concern with Rudy is partially based on the reasons I have already given, and also based on his limited executive experience.  It’s not that successfully managing New York City is a small achievement. He can rightfully boast about his record there.  But what else is there?  What other items on his resume can he point to to show that he has the right stuff to be President?  I hate to say this, but without his remarkable leadership on 9/11, Rudy Giuliani wouldn’t even be in the discussion for President of the United States.

That said…

I am disgusted by the spoiled, whiny, look-at-me-I’m-still-important, leaders in the Christian right community who would support a third party candidate if Rudy is the Republican party nominee. It’s a bad idea. Don’t they realize that if the social conservative vote is further split, Hillary wins?  As long as Rudy doesn’t win…right? They don’t speak for me, and they don’t speak for many social conservatives who share their moral values.  Power doesn’t just corrupt politicians. It corrupts religious leaders as well.  I am concerned that the church has forgotten its mission: to bring the message of Christ to a lost world. It’s not our job to pick presidential candidates.

Like I said, I’m not sold on any of the top three, including Fred, and it’s hard for me to imagine donating money or time to any of these campaigns right now.  But if Rudy is the nominee, he’s still better than Hillary. That will be enough for my vote.