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Do We Have That Choice To Choose, Or Should We Be Choosy About The Choice, Too?

Quite a lot has already been said about the abortion remarks from Michael Steele’s calamitously confused GQ interview [1], but I would just make a few basic points: the tendency in conservative rhetoric for the last 20-30 years to outdo liberals in their advocacy of “choice” is badly flawed enough as it is, but it becomes absurd in the hands of a politician who seems not to have thought about the substance of policy or any philosophical arguments related to the matters under discussion. Ross discusses the problem of substance-free rising leaders in the GOP here [2]. Steele’s zig-zagging between a federalist position on abortion (it should be the states’ “choice”), a status quo position (it is an individual choice) and the party platform position (federalism, no! HLA, si!) is dizzying, but what I find interesting is that Steele is receiving the third degree on this from conservative bloggers over this. For the most part, bloggers on the left are just pointing and laughing. When Palin demonstrated [3] similar cluelessness on this very issue, the impulse on the right then was to ignore or justify her ignorance and say, “Oh yeah, what about Biden’s answer?”

Steele does not have the benefit of a verbose, mistake-prone counterpart to distract us, but even if he did the reaction to Steele would have been nothing like the response to Palin. In other words, Steele’s blunders on substance are treated as badly damaging and activists insist that they require immediate correction, while Palin’s blunders were spun as imaginatively and desperately as any politician’s answers have ever been spun. This is a bigger problem than pushing unprepared leaders into the spotlight–it is a clear preference for one kind of style, namely the combative pseudo-populist act, over whatever style Steele has at the expense of any consideration of the merits of what these leaders say. The takeaway is that Steele is being ripped apart for making statements that are not terribly different from Palin’s campaign statements on the very same issues, and somehow she is still considered a rising star by the very activists who are ripping Steele.

6 Comments (Open | Close)

6 Comments To "Do We Have That Choice To Choose, Or Should We Be Choosy About The Choice, Too?"

#1 Comment By taxman10m On March 12, 2009 @ 4:31 pm

Speaking of Palin, the marriage is off.
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#2 Comment By rawshark On March 12, 2009 @ 4:53 pm

‘it is a clear preference for one kind of style, namely the combative pseudo-populist act, over whatever style Steele has at the expense of any consideration of the merits of what these leaders say. ‘

It ain’t about style. One represents the kind of people who founded this country. The other represents people who wouldn’t even have rights of it wasn’t for those damn libruls. Yes I’m exagerating but at least I’m not grasping at straws in order to ignore the obvious.

#3 Comment By el_longhorn On March 12, 2009 @ 5:54 pm

The diversity experiment at the top of the Republican party has gone horribly wrong. Hard to conclude that Steele is anything but an empty suit and a fool, but the GOP should give him a chance. Maybe he has skills other than sticking his foot in his mouth? A quiet removal in 6 months would seem to serve the parties interests better.

Whatever the case, the GOP has to get Steele and Rush off of TV!!

#4 Comment By Charlie On March 12, 2009 @ 6:59 pm

Steele does not have the benefit of a verbose, mistake-prone counterpart to distract us

Does Limbaugh count?

#5 Comment By les On March 13, 2009 @ 9:14 am

Never forget: starbursts. Zooming around the room. In most of these cases, you can replace “activists” with “self indulgent teens.”

#6 Comment By johnhenry7 On March 13, 2009 @ 11:40 am

While populism is undeniably part of Palin’s appeal, I think this post overlooks the more important differences between Palin and Steele. First, Steele isn’t a VP candidate three months from an election; conservatives have no need to defend him right now. Second, his comments relate to first principles, rather than just an inability to articulate them. Third, Palin is more accomplished than Steele.

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