Thursday, March 12, 2009

Michael Steele says he's for "choice" so how long can he last as Chairman of the RNC?

Steele on abortion: "Yeah. I mean, again, I think that's an individual choice."

(Hat tip: HuffPo and TPM)

The clock is ticking on Michael Steele's ever so brief tenure as Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Steele was elected Chairman on January 30th on the sixth ballot in hotly contested multiple-candidate race. He has been in the news a lot in the ensuing six weeks, mostly to make himself appear foolish. First, he called conservative icon Rush Limbaugh an "entertainer" who was at times "incendiary" and "ugly" but quickly apologized cravenly to the Big Guy from Palm Beach and heaped praise on him publicly.

Next, in an interview with Washington Times columnist Cal Thomas, he called Congressional Republicans "mice who are scurrying about the Hill...upset because they no longer have access to the cheese," an apparent reference to RNC funding.

Now, Steele is quoted as telling GQ magazine this:

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.

No doubt, Steele will say he was misquoted or some such thing. But at a minimum, this puts Steele, who has a reputation as a moderate, in the uncomfortable position of having to explain to the heavily pro-life GOP why he couldn't -- or wouldn't -- articulate a clear defense of an anti-abortion position that's been in every Republican platform for decades.

As a centrist Democrat, I'm delighted that a moderate with a broad outlook was chosen to head the RNC. But I strongly suspect that a whole lot of powerful Republicans are not at all happy with him.

Still, it would look really bad for a party that just suffered a big defeat and is scrambling to find new footing to oust the guy the just picked 40 days ago. That Steele is one of a handful of prominent African-American Republicans and the first black RNC Chairman will make tougher to dump him. It's possible that key party leaders will lean hard on him to stay out of the media for a while and tend to the party's organization and fundraising -- or else. We'll know soon -- tick, tock.

What do you think? Post a comment.

UPDATE -- Steele walked back his "choice" remark saying he's "always been pro-life" but pro-choice activists are up in arms and Mike Huckabee took a shot at him. Hard to see how Steele can keep agitating the right and then try to make up. No time left to run the RNC.
UPDATE 2 -- Tony Campbell at The Moderate Voice says he's known Steele for more than a decade and is puzzled by his behavior: "like a character on the TV series 'Lost'."

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