Message in a Bottle
If you want more evidence of the messaging difficulties facing the Republican Party, look no further than the pummeling RNC Chairman Michael Steele is now receiving for his comment in a new GQ magazine interview (some interesting reading) that abortion is an “individual choice.” In the same piece, Steele also expresses some fairly moderate views on gay rights, and even leaves the door open for individual states to address the issue of gay marriage. If you buy the argument I floated in yesterday’s post, then you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that Steele is now furiously backpedaling on both the abortion and gay marriage comments.
Some will argue that Steele’s behavior is simply the latest indication that he is neither a skilled politician nor a particularly good spokesman for the Republican Party. But to my point yesterday, it is also evidence of the way in which the party’s increasingly religious conservative discourse tightly constrains the behavior of virtually all of its political elites. Steele’s remarks would probably play reasonably well in New Hampshire, but they are anathema to the party’s socially conservative activist base. As a result, this latest episode really makes me wonder how Steele can possibly achieve his goal of a bigger tent for the party. Of course, that is assuming he can hold onto the chairmanship.


Posted On: 03-13-2009 11:30:56 by Jim Splaine
All good observations, Dean. As an aside, through the years I've noticed how difficult it is for many a politician to be himself or herself -- they let their political ambition, their lust for power and for more power, or their greed for "success," however they define that, to keep themselves from being themselves. I see it often at the State House -- where way more often than necessary the Democratic "leadership" or Republican "leadership" looks at issues based on how their positions, or lack thereof, will affect them in the next election. I think that's part of the tunnel-vision we suffer from. Wouldn't it be better to take the 10 year view rather than a view based on the next poll, or the most recent one? I guess that's always been the case in politics, and it is one of our challenges in a democracy. But it would be wonderful, if wishful thinking, that more politicians wouldn't consider that their first duty is to get reelected. Actually, I think we might be seeing such a man in the making with Barack Obama, and that's to his credit. We'll see.

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