… And Out Come The Wolves

It has only been a few hours since Michael Steele’s GQ interview first hit the blogs, but a variety of right-wing leaders have already blasted him for his heresy on the issues of homosexuality and reproductive choice.

As we mentioned before, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Charmaine Yoest, formerly of FRC and now president of Americans United for Life, and anti-choice activist Jill Stanek had all weighed in to question his commitment to the right-wing agenda and his standing as Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

And the hits just keep on coming:

Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition: “I’m a little surprised that Michael Steele, being the leader of the Republican Party, is at odds with the pro-life platform, the platform that conservative put in place… If this is his viewpoint, he has made it be known. I’m just surprised that the leader of the party is at odds with the pro-life platform.”

Evangelical leader Lou Engle: “Steele’s argument that abortion is a matter of “individual choice” is extremely disappointing, especially in light of past statements in which he promised to protect and defend human life. “Steele’s remarks to GQ indicate that he may be confused about “choice” and the “law.” The law is supposed to protect human life, not permit the taking of it. And, it can never be a “choice” for an individual to take a life.”

Mike Huckabee has likewise spoken out via a post on his Huck PAC blog:

Comments attributed to Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele are very troubling and despite his clarification today the party stands to lose many of its members and a great deal of its support in the trenches of grassroots politics. Since 1980, our party has been steadfast and principled in believing in the dignity and worth of every human life. We have supported a Constitutional amendment to protect life and the party has taken the position that no one individual has the supreme right to own another person in totality including the right to take that life. For Chairman Steele to even infer that taking a life is totally left up to the individual is not only a reversal of Republican policy and principle, but it’s a violation of the most basic of human rights–the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. His statement today helps, but doesn’t explain why he would ever say what he did in the first place.

Finally, Ken Blackwell, who’s support for Steele helped put him over the top during the RNC election back in January, has issued a not-so-veiled call for him to step down:

“Chairman Steele, as the leader of America’s Pro-Life conservative party, needs to re-read the Bible, the U.S. Constitution, and the 2008 GOP Platform. He then needs to get to work — or get out of the way.”

Blackwell’s decision to cut himself loose from Steele is, in many ways, primarily an effort to save his own reputation.  He was the Religious Right’s choice for RNC Chairman but dropped out early in the election when it was clear he wasn’t going to win. He then endorsed Steele, of whom the Right was already suspicious, and set about attempting to explain his decision by saying that he had been assured that Steele fully supported the GOP platform which, as Religious Right leaders are fond of reminding everyone, was among the most right-wing platforms the party has ever had.

As Blackwell explained it:

Over breakfast on January 30, Mr. Steele and I discussed the 2008 platform. During that conversation he earnestly expressed his full support of the platform. This is a platform that is unabashedly pro-life, strongly grounded in Second Amendment freedoms, and fully embracing limited government and the rule of law.

That conservation and my perception of Mr. Steele’s authentic embrace of those principles provided me with the basis upon which I could endorse him with a clear conscience and firm conviction once I determined it was time for me to exit the race.

Principle must trump politics. I would rather endorse no one than endorse someone I feared might abandon the GOP’s values and priorities.

I supported Mr. Steele because, by energetically advocating the principles and policies in the GOP platform, he can reunite and grow the GOP once again. Republicans face daunting challenges, but by being true to our principles Republicans can be the real agents of change.

Of course, Steele’s commitment to those principles is now being called into question … as is Blackwell’s judgment in supporting him, which largely explains why he was among the first to tell Steele that it might be time for him to “get out of the way.”