Deal Hudson: Give Michael Steele the Benefit of the Doubt
Deal Hudson writes at InsideCatholic:
I have known Michael Steele since 2000, when he helped with the Catholic Outreach in the Bush campaign. He went on to become Lieutenant Governor of Maryland before making an excellent, but failed, run for the Senate in 2006. Steele is an African-American, pro-life, Catholic who is a top candidate to lead the Republican National Committee, which is badly in need of a shake-up. The election is later this week.
I have never been a fan of the RLC, of course, and I have been particularly critical of its founder, Christie Todd Whitman, in my "Warning to the GOP," published shortly after the election. But Michael Steele, who resigned from the RLC in June 2008, should not be dismissed as a potential RNC chair because of his association with Whitman.
It is enough for me that Michael Steele made his pro-life views very clear when he was running for the Maryland Senate seat in 2006. Maryland is not a state especially friendly to pro-life politicians, and the fact that Steele did not down-play his convictions should settle the matter.
But I have another reason to trust Michael Steele, if he were elected to the RNC post. In 2003, Russ Shaw and I convened a meeting in DC with the then-president of the USCCB, Bishop Wilton Gregory, and its executive committee. The purpose of our meeting was to discuss various concerns that had risen from their secretive meeting with a group of prominent dissenters earlier in the year. I invited Michael Steele, then Lt. Gov. of Maryland -- very few people in D.C. knew Steele then, and even fewer knew he was a Catholic.
Steele talked about being raised as a Catholic in Northeast Washington, DC and attending Archbishop Carroll H.S. before spending three years in the Order of St. Augustine Seminary before receiving his law degree at Georgetown University.
Steele then proceeded to speak very directly, but diplomatically, to the bishops about their need to promote the pro-life cause with greater vigor. He talked about his disappointment with their leadership and its consequences among the African-American community. When he finished talking there was a powerful silence in the room. Bishop Gregory, as readers may know, is also an African-American, and Steele's words had a visible impact on him.
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
CBN Reporter David Brody Attempts to Rehabilitate Michael Steele's Pro-Life Credentials
Creative Minority Report Asks: "Is Michael Steele Pro-Life?"
Racial Politics: Obama vs. Steele
Is Michael Steele on McCain's "Short List" for VP?
The Story Behind Steele: No One Offered RNC Chair to Marylander
Incredibly Stupid Move
Michael Steele to Head GOP?
Black Democrats Pledge Backing to GOP's Steele
One of the Best Preemptive Political Ads That I've Ever Seen
Maryland Lt. Gov. (and U.S. Senate Candidate) Michael Steele Reaffirms Catholic Values