Last week, when Ken Blackwell dropped his bid to be Republican National Committee chairman and endorsed eventual winner Michael Steele, I speculated that the move would probably miff the gaggle of right-wing who had endorsed his candidacy, mainly because Steele was viewed as insufficiently committed to the right-wing agenda by the hard-liners.
Today, Blackwell takes to the pages of Town Hall to explain himself:
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.
The odd thing about this is that Steele himself admits that he does not authentially embrace many of the provisions in the GOP platform, but supports them only because he is a Republican and they are the official GOP positions on these issues. In fact, just last month Steele told CBN’s David Brody that he personally opposes things like a Federal Marriage Amendment:
“As chairman of the party, it is in the platform. We will support it and if members of Congress introduce the bill, then we will be the advocates for that legislation. Personally, I do not like messing around with the Constitution. I really don’t and I’m conflicted by it and I really appreciate the idea of wanting to put something like that, same with the pro-life issue, same with gay marriage but I really believe we are a federal government.”
Steele told CNS News the same thing, saying he opposes it but since “our platform calls for that … as chairman I absolutely will support it.” He had a similar point regarding the platform’s call for a Human Life Amendment to outlaw abortion, saying the he believes the issue should be left to the states, but since it is in the platform he would support it:
My personal view is Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided, which is why I made the point that it should have been left to the individual states to have that battle and to have the communities decide for themselves what they would pay for, what they wouldn’t pay for, what they would accept and what they won’t accept, very much like what is being played on with the gay marriage bill.
Steele’s embrace of these principles is anything but “authentic” – it is entirely opportunistic. Of all the candidates running for RNC Chairman, Steele is the one most likely “abandon the values and priorities” Blackwell cites because, as Steele freely admits, he doesn’t actually agree with them.
As we noted yesterday, in his first days as RNC Chairman, Steele went on TV and said the GOP needs to welcome those who don’t share their right-wing’s opposition to abortion and gay rights. That certainly doesn’t sound like something that someone who is committed to “energetically advocating the principles and policies in the GOP platform” would say.
If Blackwell is trying to justify his endorsement of Steele in order to placate his Religious Right supporters, he’s going to have to come up with a better explanation than this.