Saturday, January 31, 2009

New RNC Chief Steele

The Republican Party elected Michael S. Steele as party chairman for a 2-year term.  He was the first Republican lieutenant governor elected in Maryland; subsequently he lost in his bid for the  senate seat of the state. On Friday he won the chairmanship of the GOP on the 6th ballot.He beat South Carolina state chairman Katon Dawson, a strong anti-desegregationist, 91-77.  Although a committed conservative, he was rated the 'most moderate' of the pack with which he ran.

It may seem odd that the GOP would elect an African-American as chairman; surely some Republicans this morning will be stunned to see a black man at the top of their nearly all-white, rural party.  Racial bigots in America must be fretting over the fact that black men have risen to the top of both the GOP and the Presidency.  What are white supremacists to do now?  Suggestion: an island in the Pacific.

Two black men at the top of the American political scene: how uncommonly refreshing.  However, one ought to look a bit deeper, beyond melanin levels in the skin.  These two men share little more than skin color, career, and a poor, fatherless upbringing.  Beyond these factors, the gap is wide.

Unlike Obama, Steele lived in a nice neighborhood in D.C. and a attended private, Catholic school. His widowed mother remarried when he was 4 and his stepfather was in the home as he grew up. He struggled academically at Johns Hopkins and was nearly expelled for low grades.  After he graduated,  Steele spent three years in a Catholic seminary, studying for the priesthood.  He left the seminary and got a law degree, and worked as a corporate securities associate in a D.C. law firm, specializing in financial investments for Wall Street underwriters.  After working in Tokyo and London for the law firm, he came back to America, left the law firm and started his own business and legal consulting firm.  

Interestingly, both Steele and Obama gave major speeches at their 2004 National Conventions.  Only Obama's speech has been noted as outstanding.  Unlike Obama, Steele lost his next political race for senator. Karl Rove helped Steele in his bid, but Rovian campaign shenanigans were uncovered which shed a bad light on the Steele Campaign.  He lost 44-56.  During this political career, Steele was cast as an Oreo, black outside, white inside, by his critics.  In fact, Oreo cookies were rolled towards him on several campaign stops.

Steele drew much criticism from his senatorial opponent, Ben Cardin, who is Jewish,  for a remark he made during the campaign.  While speaking at a Jewish meeting, Steele compared embryonic stem cell research to Nazi experiments during the Holocaust.  His strong pro-life stance blinded him to what he was saying to this group.  ‘‘He doesn’t have the right to compare ... stem cell research to the barbarity of the Holocaust,” said Cardin's wife after the incident.  

Unfortunately, as I have discovered running this blog, pro-lifers are often careless as well as righteous as they cling to the most extreme elements of their tenets.  These severe platitudes often condemn any form of birth control, many treating the Plan B 'morning after' pill as immoral.

If Mr. Steele hopes, as he said in his speech following his election, to broaden the attraction of the GOP, he will have to be aware that most of America has moved on regarding birth control, stem-cell therapy and abortion.  if he holds tightly to his conservative Catholic beliefs, the GOP will remain the isolated, narrow party of rural, white America.

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