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Friday, January 30, 2009

Michael Steele becomes first black Republican National Committee chairman

From the Huffington Post:

Michael Steele became the first African-American chairman of the Republican National Committee on Friday after defeating his lone remaining challenger, Katon Dawson, on the sixth and final ballot. The margin was 91 votes for Steele, 77 votes for Dawson.

"This is awesome," Steele told the crowd. "I accept and appreciate all of you for the opportunity to serve as the next national chairman of our very proud, our very strong, and our very, very hard working Republican National Committee."

Here is Steele accepting the chairmanship:

National Public Radio reports:

Leaders of the fractured and demoralized national Republican Party on Friday turned to a charismatic, nationally-recognized African American to lead it into the future. Already, one thing seems clear: The party needs to write a new, post-Bush chapter, and quickly.

Supporters say it was Steele's proven abilities, and not his skin color, that catapulted him to the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.

But the former Maryland lieutenant governor – the first African-American elected to statewide office there — also gives the overwhelmingly white party, one seeking to diversify, a decidedly new and historic face at a time when another history-making — and highly popular — Democrat occupies the White House.

USA Today's On Politics blog has a nifty exchange:

A questioner said that when Steele ran for the Senate in 2006, President Obama -- then a senator -- called him "an amiable fellow" who could do the job but had a thin resume.

"I would say to the new president, congratulations," Steele responded. "It's going to be an honor to spar with him, and I would follow that up with 'how do you like me now?'"

(Uhm, thin resume?... Pot, meet kettle.)

Meanwhile, many of us would like to know whether Steele is, in fact, the kind of conservative worth supporting. The American Spectator strikes a cautious note:

There was a lot of criticism of Michael Steele's conservative credentials during the race for RNC chairman. My own view is that Steele is personally fairly conservative, but has perhaps drunk a bit deeply of the conventional wisdom on how Republicans can appeal to the center (though, let's face it, he is a Republican who has had to try to win in a Northeastern state).

In both his bids for statewide office in Maryland, Steele ran as a strong pro-lifer in a very liberal state. In 2002, Steele had the benefit of a pro-choice candidate above him on the Republican ticket but in 2006 he was out there on his own -- and even held firm on embryonic stem-cell research. With some exceptions, Steele has defended a conservative Republican platform in hostile territory while holding the door open to moderates. Steele's chairmanship is an opportunity to bring together Republicans who want to see the party stick to its conservative principles and those who would rather it move to the center.

But we'll let Steele have the final word on his conservative credentials. Here is a (short) speech Steele gave on April 28, 2007 at the Civitas Institute:

Michael Steele's biography can be read on Fox News here.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on January 30, 2009 in U.S. politics | Permalink


While I applaud the selection of Steele I still can't help but wonder: will it ever be by the content of a man's character by which we judge him?
I'm tired of hearing, 'first black this, first black that'. How about we choose people simply because they deserve the support?

Posted by: Charles Martin Cosgriff | 2009-01-31 8:04:26 AM

The good news is that Steele is both an economic and social conservative(pro-gun rights, pro-life). My only complaint is that he personally opposes the death penalty(although he said that he would not block any executions when he was Maryland's lieutnant governor). I have heard him interviewed and Steele seems like a smart straightforward guy.

Posted by: James | 2009-01-31 9:07:22 PM

Well, I do support the death penalty, but it is not a shirt sleeve issue for me. I can live with or without it, and would be willing to use it as a chit in exchange for concessions on other issues.

Posted by: Charles Martin Cosgriff | 2009-02-01 8:08:43 AM

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