Today, Republican National Committee (RNC) delegates chose former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele as their new chairman. Steele is the first African-American to lead the party, which continues to struggle with diversity problems.
The choice of Steele represents a considerable failure for the social conservatives who dominated during the era of Tom DeLay and George W. Bush. These far right wingers — including Phyllis Schlafly, Tony Perkins, Richard Viguerie, and Ed Meese — all backed Kenneth Blackwell, who had one of the poorest showings in the election. The results after six rounds of ballots:
Similarly, on Twitter, Ana Marie Cox observed, “Strong showing for Steele –widely considered a ‘moderate’ — in #rncchair suggests that Rs at least considering abandoning Palinism,” which she defined as, “[a]ggressive know-nothingism, pride in ignorance.” “It’s a diverse party. We’re tired of being labeled as white supremacists,” said a committee member from Rhode Island.
Other losers in this race were Katon Dawson — who had been a member of a South Carolina whites-only country club — and Chip Saltsman — who proudly promoted the “Barack the Magic Negro” song.
It’s unclear, however, how much influence Steele will actually have in influencing Republican lawmakers who are proud to be Rush Limbaugh’s ditto heads. Last month, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney told CNN that “the most powerful voices of the party are going to be elected officials in the Senate, in the House, and in governors’ offices.” Those powerful voices are still embracing the hate radio host — who has called Obama a “little black man-child” — as a spokesman for their movement.
,In 2001, the Maryland Gazette reported that Michael Steele said, “Unless you’re gay, you could care less about gay rights. Unless you’re a homosexual or a lesbian, it’s not going to rise up on your radar screen.” [8/8/01]