HOW DO YOU LIKE HIM NOW?

Michael Steele, who has been struggling as head of the RNC ever since he remarked that Rush Limbaugh's radio show was "incendiary" and "ugly," told GQ that he thought abortion was a "personal choice" but that he thought Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided "as a legal matter" and should be "left up to the states." During his run for RNC Chair, Steele had described himself as having been "pro-life" his "entire life." Steele also suggested being gay was not a choice, stating, "You just can’t simply say, oh, like, 'Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being gay.' It’s like saying, 'Tomorrow morning I’m gonna stop being black.'" Constitutional bans on abortion and same-sex marriage are part of his party's platform.

I realize that Steele thinks the above statement makes him look "open minded," but one of the reasons conservatives say being gay is a choice is because if it isn't, it's really hard to justify denying gays the same rights as everyone else. It's actually more reprehensible to say being gay is as much a fact of someone's life as being black, and then deny people those rights anyway. Because then, what's your excuse?

In the meantime, Steele is facing the possibility of being ousted by former rival Katon Dawson, whom you might remember as the guy who belonged to a racially exclusive club and came to his "political consciousness" opposing busing programs. It all pretty much hinges on the special election for Kirsten Gillibrand's former seat in New York.

Honestly my real concern is that if Steele doesn't make it, conservatives, who don't actually believe "conservatism" can fail but only be failed, will conclude that reaching out to minorities was a "gimmick" and give up on doing so entirely. Which is good news for the Democrats, but bad news for the country. As long as it's taken for granted that one of the two major parties is outright hostile to black folks, race will continue to be a dominating and divisive force in American politics. I'm not sure that Steele himself could change that, but at this point he looks like either the beginning or the end of that conversation.

-- A. Serwer

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