GQ: How much of your pro-life stance, for you, is informed not just by your Catholic faith but by the fact that you were adopted?
Steele: Oh, a lot. Absolutely. I see the power of life in that—I mean, and the power of choice! The thing to keep in mind about it… Uh, you know, I think as a country we get off on these misguided conversations that throw around terms that really misrepresent truth.
GQ: Explain that.
Steele: The choice issue cuts two ways. You can choose life, or you can choose abortion. You know, my mother chose life. So, you know, I think the power of the argument of choice boils down to stating a case for one or the other.
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.
GQ: You do?
Steele: Yeah. Absolutely.
This is not the first time that Steele has exhibited fairly pro-choice leanings, all the while making a complete mash (at best) of exactly what his position is. From Meet the Press, October 30, 2006:
MR. RUSSERT: Would, would you encourage — would you hope the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade?And by now, if he wants to be the head of the RNC, and if he wants to be the number one face and voice of the Party, as is evident from him being on way too many TV shows, and now giving way too many interviews, then he should know by now how to give clear and coherent answers.
LT. GOV. STEELE: I think that that’s a matter that’s going to rightly belong to the courts to decide ultimately whether or not that, that issue should be addressed. The, the Court has taken a position, which I agree, stare decisis, which means that the law is as it is and, and so this is a matter that’s ultimately going to be adjudicated at the states. We’re seeing that. The states are beginning to decide for themselves on, on this and a host of other issues. And the Supreme Court would ultimately decide that.
MR. RUSSERT: But you hope that the Court keeps Roe v. Wade in place?
LT. GOV. STEELE: I think the Court will evaluate the law as society progresses, as the Court is supposed to do.
MR. RUSSERT: But what’s your position? Do you want them to sustain it or overturn it?
LT. GOV. STEELE: Well, I think, I think, I think Roe vs. Wade, Roe vs. Wade is a, is a matter that should’ve been left to the states to decide, ultimately. But it, it is where it is today, and the courts will ultimately decide whether or not this, this gets addressed by the states, goes back to the states in some form or they overturn it outright.
MR. RUSSERT: Is is your desire to keep it in place?
LT. GOV. STEELE: My desire is that we follow what stare decisis is at this point, yes.
As it is, at best, his position can be characterized as something along the lines of: personally opposed but . . .
What the pro-life movement does not need is someone who is Cuomo-lite, some super-big tenter who tries to be all things to all people without any bedrock principles. That is hardly the model of an effective advocate (for the pro-life cause). Looking to Lee Atwater as your model, saying that “Lee Atwater said it best: We are a big-tent party” — said it best!, not Atwater had a point, not Atwater had an interesting approach, but Atwater said it BEST — is the exact reason that the Republican Party no longer firmly stands for anything and, consequently, has sunk into the abyss.
I can understand a position of “it’s a woman’s personal choice,” but as a philosophical/theological matter, not as a public policy one. I can understand a “leave it to the states” position, but only as a compromise, not as a principle in and of itself. Indeed, being in a multi-state federalist system, where different states can do different things on various issues, that is probably the best that the pro-life movement can get as a practical matter, but only by recognizing that, in protecting life in some places, it is left attacked in other places.
But isn't he simply saying with his "choice" language that we need to convert people? that we need to change hearts and minds? And isn't he right?
Yes, the battle for life absolutely is a hearts and minds battle. We must convert hearts. And, indeed, I have long and repeatedly said that current pro-lifers will not win the fight, that today’s pro-choicers will win the fight - for the pro-life side. That is, today’s pro-choicers will be tomorrow’s pro-lifers and they will win the war.
But you do not convert folks, you do not win hearts and minds, by mish-mash confusion and comments that can be best interpreted as saying that abortion is an individual choice. I know that some of the Obama crowd is pushing this “pro-choice is pro-life” argument, but that is nonsense. And it is doubly nonsense when it is coming from our own. Maybe that is not what Steele meant, but that is the clear interpretation. Whether he meant it that way, or whether he is nothing but a sower of confusion, either way, that is not the way to convert the other side. So, it now looks like it is time for a more effective advocate to replace him.
And it is hardly “rushing” to show Steele the door when I have long (several years) been a supporter of his, an enthusiastic supporter. He has said a LOT of right things, but he is increasingly saying a lot of the wrong things, and apparently coming from a wrong philosophy. And eventually, there is that last straw, and this is it, especially when one adds in his multiple other “gaffes” in recent weeks (e.g. remaining silent and thereby giving implicit agreement with the characterization of Republicans as Nazis).
As for the GQ interview, I wasn’t too thrilled with several other statements: (a) his indictment of the Republican Party as offering non-white Americans “nothing” and giving the impression that “we don’t give a damn about them,” (b) his indictment of the Republican Party as being composed of nothing but closet racists who “don’t see the chairman of the Republican Party, they see a black man just walked into the room,” (c) his apparent endorsement of Eric Holder’s indictment that we don’t talk about race, (d) his total and abject confusion (for an ex-seminarian no less!) on the nature of marriage, that male-female marriage is just a matter of opinion (”that’s just [his] view”), not sociological, much less theological/moral truth, and hence, a matter for state reinvention, (e) his slam at a couple of commentators as “bomb-throwers,” (f) his disingenuous claimed inability to remember who his first presidential vote was for, Ford or Carter (it is not the least bit believable that a person does not remember his first presidential vote, unless he is purposely trying to forget who it was for, whom I suspect was Carter), and (g) his disturbing swooning for Academy Award red carpet fashions.
Again, these are hardly the comments of an advocate, much less a faithful and zealous believer. Rather, they give the enemy bucketfuls of ammunition to use against the Party and conservatives in general. There is too much bad mixed in with the good that he says.
At the “end of the day,” Steele no longer inspires me; he is not doing the things and saying the things that lead me to want to follow him. And THAT IS HIS JOB, to rally people in a positive direction in advance of the Party. He is a poor advocate, notwithstanding his years of experience in public commentary. If he is failing to rally people and, indeed, is alienating his own people, perhaps he is not the right person for the job after all.
As for the "big tent" -- we do not need, and I am not at all interested in, a bunch of pro-choicers and pro-aborts coming into the Republican Tent. What we do need, is for those pro-choicers and pro-aborts to come into the Pro-Life Tent. We want these people to come into the Republican Tent, but with a conversion of heart and mind, so that they are no longer pro-choice and pro-abort, but authentically pro-life. The same can be said of moderates and RINOs -- we do not need them coming into the Big Republican Tent, that is, not if they are coming into the Tent and remaining as moderates and RINOs. We need moderates and RINOs to come into the Conservative Tent.
The Republican Tent is not an end in and of itself. It is merely a means by which to advance pro-life and conservative principles. To have a policy or desire of filling the Big Republican Tent with pro-choicers, pro-aborts, moderates, RINOs, etc. is to miss the point, to miss the entire reason for the tent, altogether.