early and often

How Much Trouble Is RNC Chair Michael Steele in Now?

There have been rumors going around that RNC chairman Michael Steele could face a no-confidence vote in the near future. If that’s the case (and really, even if it isn’t), a just-released GQ interview will likely make life even harder for the embattled party leader. In the article, Steele says he believes homosexuality isn’t a choice and insists that he’s not in favor of a constitutional ban on gay marriage despite promising to pursue one; makes some interesting remarks about his music preferences (favorite artist: P. Diddy); and throws around a handful of expletives. But surely the most controversial part of the interview is when Steele seems to at one point take a pro-choice position on abortion, calling it an “individual decision,” only to muddle his position when pressed. This morning Steele is out with a statement making it absolutely clear that he is “pro-life, always have been, always will be.” But with the party’s patience for Steele already wearing thin, could this be the last straw?

• Chuck Todd and friends say there are “two ways to look at Michael Steele’s comments on abortion.” Some may feel that if he wants to lead a pro-life party, then “using the word ‘choice’ could be grounds for dismissal.” But others “will argue that Steele might be helping the party get past the debate a tad.” Still, the interview as a whole “might serve to create more room for Steele critics inside the GOP to, well, push him aside.” [First Read/MSNBC]

• Chris Cillizza suspects that “given his history on the [abortion] issue, he may struggle to put this misstatement behind him.” But even so, “the idea that Steele will be ousted from his post any time soon is far-fetched.” The party will give him a chance to “prove himself as a fundraiser and tactician in the coming months.” [Fix/WP]

• Steve Benen writes that Steele had “hoped a few days without a new controversy might quell doubts about his party leadership,” but “[i]t’s very easy at this point to imagine Steele coming to the conclusion that he’s become a ‘distraction,’ and deciding that what he really wants to do is spend more time with his family.” [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• Rick Klein thinks Steele “probably doesn’t do himself many favors in his bid to hang on to his job” with this interview, and wonders, “At what point does he stop playing pundit and start playing party leader?” [Note/ABC News]

• Steven Waldman says “Oh dear.” [Beliefnet]

• Matt Lewis isn’t sure “if it is more concerning that Steele is pro-choice — or that he is unsure of his position on the Life issue.” [Town Hall]

• Eric Kleefeld wonders, “How will the Family Research Council — or dare we say it, Rush Limbaugh — handle this one?” [TPM DC]

• Erick Erickson hopes Steele was “responding to the actual facts of the question that women do presently have that right and not responding to the question of whether they should have the right.” [Red State]

• Kathryn Jean Lopez doesn’t necessarily “believe ‘individual choice’ is a sign he’s pro-choice, though I can’t see myself using the words. I believe the guy is pro-life. But I also believe he might be in over his head at the RNC.” [Corner/National Review]

• Adam Serwer realizes that Steele thinks he’s being “‘open-minded,’ but one of the reasons conservatives say being gay is a choice is because if it isn’t, it’s really hard to justify denying gays the same rights as everyone else.” [Tapped/American Prospect]

• Joan Walsh was more insulted by Steele’s “heinous ignorance” of the Rat Pack, which he referred to in the GQ interview as the “Pack Rats.” [Salon]

• Josh Marshall calls it a “trainwreck interview” that may “inflict the final blow.” [TPM]

How Much Trouble Is RNC Chair Michael Steele in Now?