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GOP Chairman Steele Honest About Abortion: And Gets Tongue Lashing

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In a recent post in the political blog of the New York Times, the new Chairman of the Republican National Committee was caught in a bit of an honest moment when asked about his position on abortion.  It should be no surprise to any that the GOP is fervently anit-abortion. However, its new chairman appears to be confused about the party's stance. Mr Steele stated as much in his response to an interview with Lisa DePaulo of GQ. On abortion, Mr. Steele said that Roe v. Wade was “wrongly decided” and that states should decide the issue. But he also said that the issue was one of “individual choice” and that women had the "right to choose abortion."

Well, has everyone now taken notice? The GOP had to look hard for a new qualified chairman that would present a new face to the party. They found one. Steele has been hounded by accusations that he is not in charge and that the true ideological leader of the GOP was in fact the irascible politico, he who must not be named. Of course, Chairman Steele tried to clarify his position, which only made matters worse, causing future Republican Presidential nominees to chime in, such as Mike Huckabee: “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.”

Steele is going to have a hard time trying to reform the GOP with 19th century throwbacks like Mike Huckabee in positions of influence. What Steele has revealed though is the true nature of the abortion debate that most GOP members would admit privately but never publicly. The fact remains it is not a clear cut issue. There is much gray between the pro- and anti-choice forces. Steele would do well to expound upon his first statement to GQ. This would be a welcome change to the party and could bring in many new voters, namely working class women who tend to be a part of the gender gap that has been getting wider since 1980. But, not as long as the religious right has any part of the party structure, the GOP will be doomed to become the party of the ideological right.

Steele is in a difficult position. It appears that he is attempting to change the view of the GOP which could stand some change from the last 14 years. Its star is slowly sinking. Right now the GOP can be considered a regional party at the national level. In the 2008 elections to the House of Representatives, the last northeastern Republican House member, Christopher Shays of Connecticut, was defeated. Currently, there is not one Republican House member representing New England. Steele sees the need for a new image for the GOP, but those who are in other leadership positions want to hold on to those time honored values that they cannot appear to get a majority of Americans to agree to. Steele needs to present a new plan and act upon it or he will remain in the current position he finds himself, irrelevant. And that is not a good place for any party chairman and spokesman to be in.

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About Georges Clark

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I have actually begun to feel sorry for Steele. And for me, believe me, feeling sorry for an RNC chairman is a stretch. Even Howard Dean was defending the guy on Chris Matthews’ show Thursday.

    Dean’s take on it was that the social conservatives and social moderates still need to settle their battle for control of the party, and because that has not yet happened, Steele is vulnerable no matter what he says.

    I think maybe he should just stop giving interviews for a few weeks. It’s like he has nothing else to do.

  • http://toddyarling.tumblr.com/ todd yarling

    Pro life is part of the GOP platform. If Steele can’t get in line with that, he needs to move on, or become a dem, the confirmed party of child murder.

    bUT Steele seems to have a prob with defending the GOP, as if he is ashamed of it!

    I notice the other black dude, Ken Blackwell, has no probLEM ticking off the libs and has no intention of apologizing for the GOP and for being pro-life.

    He would make a much better RNC chairman, and actually has a RECORD of accomplishment.

    The GOP needs to quit apologizing for being pro life, anti-gay rights, and quit listening to the moderates. Like the dude who wrote this article.

  • Mike

    todd, lol

    In case you have not notice, the Republicans have ALLOT to be ashamed of, Like: $8 billion dollar deficit, over 3000 troops dead for a cause which has YET to be fully defined, an embarrassment in the world for invading a country on the assumption that they had WMD, never confirmed, or the POTENTIAL, Sorry Hawaii has the potential for making WMD if ever noticed, This party is soooo far out of the mainstream that they are not even aware they are not in the stream any more.

    In all, I hope all the moderates do leave the Republican party it would serve them right and American might get the chance to vote them out of existence.

    Oh and by the way, look at the comment policy, dude personal attacks on writers are NOT allowed.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    The Republicans replaced the Whigs because the Whigs ran out of ideas.

    It appears that both the Democrats and Republicans have run out of ideas. Fighting over abortion is not the wisest thing Republicans can do right now – since their country is in an economic crisis that is directly of their own making – with roots in the policies of Democratic presidents that preceded the Shrub.

    Both parties need to pull together to figure out the hard medicine to administer to themselves and then to the American people in getting America out of the mess they have led it to. Tolerance of abortion is part of the problem in that it leads to a certain moral laziness and laxity. Steele’s position as mentioned in the article is the perfect compromise between the “pro” and “anti” choice screamers and screeders on both sides of the aisle.

    The attitudes in comment #2 seems to be the road to disaster for the party.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I agree with Ruvy that Todd’s attitude (and BTW, mate, you need to get that rebellious caps lock seen to!) epitomises what’s got the GOP into their current mess. It’s hard when you can’t see the wood for the burning torches you’ve made out of it.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Mike,

    What Todd wrote was an opinion, wrong-headed if you like, but not a personal attack. He didn’t call the author names or insult him, he just expressed disagreement with his ‘moderate’ views.

  • http://jetssciencepage.blogspot.com/ Jet

    If you want to know who you’re really dealing with in Todd, click his URL, and also note how new it is.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Pro life is part of the GOP platform. If Steele can’t get in line with that, he needs to move on, or become a dem, the confirmed party of child murder.

    There are a lot of stupid things in the GOP platform. We’ve got 4 years to fix them.

    About half of the GOP membership has a moderate to pro-choice position on abortion. Todd and his extremist minority don’t get to make decisions for the rest of us.

    bUT Steele seems to have a prob with defending the GOP, as if he is ashamed of it!

    That’s his job. To make apologies for the bad policies made to pander to extremist groups within the party.

    I notice the other black dude, Ken Blackwell, has no probLEM ticking off the libs and has no intention of apologizing for the GOP and for being pro-life.

    Why do you think Steele won the election? Doh.

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Dave, a very reasonable, down-to-earth comment.

  • Mike

    way to go Dave. There are a good many Republicans who are pro-choice and have been sidelined for the last 20 years by the right wing. The GOP platform, like any platform, is a set of vague statements that amounts to . . . . . . to . . . . to . what was I saying???? Oh, they amount to generalities of either party.

    Dave and the rest are correct, if the GOP wants to make a constructive opposition party they have to get off this abortion issue and on to more important things like the mess the Republicans have put the nation in over the last 8 years. I need not remind people that both the Congress and the Executive were in control by Republicans for 6 of the last 8 years. If the Republicans are complaining they only have themselves to blame, the rest of the nation already has.

    But, also Steele is reflecting what most Americans have already reconciled with themselves. It is not a either or issue. Its not just a decision to have a child or not. It is something that we Americans have to come to at least the minimal decision that it should be decided within the privacy of the doctor’s office and between the people who have to raise, guide, educate, love, and nurture the child. It is not the responsibility of the state to provide morals to its citizens, nor should it. If you don’t like abortion, don’t have one. But don’t close the option for others who through their own moral beliefs may want to have that option available.

    This is the path that needs to be opened and if the Republican party does not try to let moderates in, they will be lost forever to another party.

    Dr. Dreadful. Thank you for pointing out that. I have, unfortunately, re-read the post and do agree to a point. It was my mistake and you are correct to point it out. I should have thought better of making a remark at 1 AM. I usually write my comments than look at them a few hours later.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The last two, three posts suggests there is hope for the Republican Party. We need you coherent and strong.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Abortion (along with stem cell research and other stuff) seems more a religious than political issue, and I wish that both parties would get over it. People who want an appendectomy, face lift, abortion or other medical procedure, can find a physician to perform it, and can pay for it through insurance or otherwise should not face legal obstacles in doing so. Physicians who, for religious, medical or other reasons, or indeed for no reason at all, don’t want to perform appendectomies, face lifts, abortions, etc. should not face Governmental sanctions on account of their choice. Let the preachers tend to the religious needs of their flocks, let the physicians practice medicine, and get Government, at all levels, out of everyone’s life to the greatest extent possible; a Herculean task, since the Augean stable Mr. Steel needs to muck out has become incredibly full of yucky stuff.

    Thus far, I think Mr. Steele is doing a reasonably competent job with the very difficult task before him. I would not like to see him recreate the Republican Party as the Democratic-Lite Party, which he may be in danger of doing if he does not try very hard to avoid it. With lots of luck and compromise from all sides within the Republican Party, it is just barely conceivable that he will redirect it toward limited Government, market regulation via real antitrust enforcement, responsible fiscal policy, and a military adequate to defend the United States — successfully — against her foreign enemies, of which there are more than a few. If he fails . . . well, I’ll not get into that. It’s too depressing. Ruvy is far better at that sort of thing than I am.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    This is the path that needs to be opened and if the Republican party does not try to let moderates in, they will be lost forever to another party.

    There are moderates and there are moderates. The question is what issues the GOP can afford to be moderate on and which ones it needs to adopt a firm and uncompromising stance on. The mistake of the last 8 years has been to compromise on the wrong issues.

    Compromising on issues of fundamental political principle while taking a hardline ideological stance on marginal social issues has been a terrible strategy. It’s pandering to an exclusionary minority while alienating a potentially dominant majority.

    I suspect that Steele is enough of a realist to understand this.

    Dave

  • leighann

    I hear a lot of talk about moderates but wonder if that is what the American people really want. I may be wrong and haven’t given it a great deal of thought but these are my observations:

    -In the past two elections the dems. have nominated one of the most liberal people they have to run for president. The last one won the election.
    -George Bush won both presidential elections in which he ran and he was one of the most conservative, right wing people that the Republican party had.
    -John McCain was more moderate than Goerge Bush but the same people who voted Bush in just did not seem to be too crazy about the McCain but they loved Palin who was more conservative.

    I could probably go back a little futher with this but I am young and did not follow what was happeningbefore this.

    It seems to me that the moderate candidates do not win. Makes me wonder if that is what people really want becuase the actions do not seem to match the words. Am I wrong?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You may be right, Leighann, insofar general election is concerned – because we still suffer from great ideological divide. I think, however, the matter changes drastically once the president is in office – if only for the fact that he or she may have to navigate among the crosscurrents and arrive at an equatable compromise. That’s the price of a two-party system or any coalition form of government.

    As regards Bill Clinton, I have this to add. He may have been perceived as a far-left liberal while running for office, but he ended up, IMO, being quite a centrist. (I’m aware that many here would disagree.)

    Obama’s adminstration promises to be different (because of the economic crisis); even so, I believe one can detect the centrist pull – as evident by much of the radical Left’s dissatisfaction that he’s not going far enough.

  • bliffle

    Clinton was, indeed, our most conservative president in quite awhile. He balanced the budget and produced surpluses, which neither Reagan (who was more radical and not very conservative, really) nor Bush Sr. could do.

    IMO the problem is that we have transfered our fondness for sports to politics. We believe that we are on one team or another and winning is the most important issue. Both parties promote this bogus notion. I say it is bogus because the leaders of the two teams do not consider us as team members. We are merely fans who they put up with to get the bills paid. Witness the blarney they feed us to fend off our attempts to probe what is really happening and what their plans are.

    Interviews of the past few days on various interview programs (Charlie Rose, Stephanopolis, Wallace, etc.) are particularly alarming as one after another appointee attempts to smother Americans smouldering concern about economic collapse with soothing double-talk designed to fool us into thinking that they know what they are doing and they are working hard at doing it.

    But I, for one, am not convinced either that they know their jobs or that they are working hard at them.

    In this they are only different by party affiliation from the previous bunch of slackers and deceivers during the Bush administration. Oh, they SOUND better as they evoke slicker more youthful, more chic, notions and phraseology.

    But the end result is the same: bafflegab.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    My goodness, bliffle. So it’s politics as usual, ain’t it so?

  • http://toddyarling.tumblr.com/ todd yarling

    @ #3 Mike “Oh and by the way, look at the comment policy, dude personal attacks on writers are NOT allowed.”

    I am glad that you agree being called a moderate Republican is an insult. Now that we have common ground, I have hope for a successful dialog.

    @ #4 Ruvy “The Republicans replaced the Whigs because the Whigs ran out of ideas.” “Fighting over abortion is not the wisest thing Republicans can do right now ”

    The GOP was started primarily as an anti-slavery party. The Whigs were incapable of firmly taking a stand on this issue.

    There were many whig ideas in the GOP, ironically mostly calling for the expansion of the Federal Gov’t, but anti-slavery was the glue that held them together.

    I predict something along these lines to happen again in the future, if the GOP keeps waffling over this most basic of issues… respect for human life.

    The people who are pleased by Steele’s ‘refreshing’ ‘long needed’ comments are the people who need to be drummed out of the party. The approval of liberals is a sure sign you are on the wrong track. Their hatred is a sure sign you are doing something right. Palin 2012!

    @ #7 Jet “If you want to know who you’re really dealing with in Todd, click his URL, and also note how new it is.”

    If you click on the URL, you should be taken to my tumblelog, I post to it about 20 times a week, ussually 2 or times a day at least. I have had that miniblog for about 6 months, iirc. I do not understand what you are trying to say, except that somehow, I am bad, and to be disregarded because one of my web pages is less than a year old?

    You moderates got the GOP into this mess. That, and the willingness of the GOP to ignore the little guy and hand huge swaths of our liberty and money over to the corporations. Ron Paul and Palin are the future of the GOP and of America, or God Help Us.

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