Michael Steele speaks…again

13Mar09

Check out RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s answers to a few questions recently posed by GQ magazine.

Is he pro-choice or pro-life? What is his position on gay marriage? Is he really ready for this job? You can check out the complete interview at www.gq.com.

Mr. Steele, we’re still worried about you, Brother.

Speak your peace.

Why do you think so few nonwhite Americans support the Republican Party right now?
’Cause we have offered them nothing! And the impression we’ve created is that we don’t give a damn about them or we just outright don’t like them. And that’s not a healthy thing for a political party. .. What I’m trying to do now is to say we do give a damn.

But how are you going to change that perception?
You change it by force of personality, you change it by force of will, and sometimes you change it by force. [laughs]

Say what?
You go and you say, [pounding desk] “You will find tools that you will put in place, structures that will allow and embrace more diverse people to come to the party.” But this is the thing to keep in mind: Opening up the party, and making it more accessible, and making it more relevant, does not mean that I need to backslide on what I believe or what values we hold. We are a party; we are the conservative party of this country… We value smaller government. We think the less government in your life, the better off you are as an individual and a family.

Was it emotional for you when Barack was sworn in?
No.

Why not?
I don’t get caught up that way.

But didn’t you feel—
I felt… No, I felt pride. I felt excited about it. But, um, I don’t know, I have a different perception of this. I just…

You came from a very Democratic family, is that right?
Oh yeah. My parents were Roosevelt Democrats.

How did you become a Republican?
My mama raised me well.

No, really. What was it?
Ronald Reagan was a big influence. I was fascinated by what he had to say. He sounded a lot like how my mother raised me, back in that time. When my dad died, our church, our family, our friends, really put a lot of pressure on her to go on welfare, to get a government check.

And instead she worked in a laundry, didn’t she?
Sterling Laundry. As a presser. For forty-three, forty-four years. The most my mother ever made was $3.80 an hour. And I remember asking her why she never went on welfare, and she said, “I didn’t want the government raising my children.”

On leaving the priesthood: …I remember, when I left the order, saying to my novice master that, you know, throughout the priesthood there are those who should be taking this step that I’m taking today. And sure enough—what, ten years later?—the scandals start breaking.

That had to be hard for you to watch.
It was very hard, because I knew there were men who should not have been there. These are individuals who were, you know—they used the priesthood as a place to go hide.

Let’s talk about gay marriage. What’s your position?
Well, my position is, hey, look, I have been, um, supportive of a lot of my friends who are gay in some of the core things that they believe are important to them. You know, the ability to be able to share in the information of your partner, to have the ability to—particularly in times of crisis—to manage their affairs and to help them through that as others—you know, as family members or others—would be able to do. I just draw the line at the gay marriage. And that’s not antigay, no. Heck no! It’s just that, you know, from my faith tradition and upbringing, I believe that marriage—that institution, the sanctity of it—is reserved for a man and a woman… That’s why I believe that the states should have an opportunity to address that issue.

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?
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.

Explain that.
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.

Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion?
Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice.

You do?
Yeah. Absolutely.

Are you saying you don’t want to overturn Roe v. Wade?
I think Roe v. Wade—as a legal matter, Roe v. Wade was a wrongly decided matter.

Okay, but if you overturn Roe v. Wade, how do women have the choice you just said they should have?
The states should make that choice. That’s what the choice is. The individual choice rests in the states. Let them decide.

Do pro-choicers have a place in the Republican Party?
Absolutely!



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