WASHINGTON — Michael Steele, the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, was elected the chairman of the Republican National Committee on Friday as the party chose its first African-American leader in a vote that signaled a desire by Republican leaders to put a new face on an embattled party. [...]The New York Times article fails to mention a few other things about Mr. Steele: he's pro-life, he's Catholic, and he's a former seminarian:
Mr. Steele also represented an important break for Republicans for another reason: He was one of two outsiders — non-members of the committee — running to be its leader. Historically, the party typically chooses members to be its leaders.
Mr. Steele accepted the selection after a prolonged standing ovation from members who were clearly tired after five hours of voting.“As a little boy growing up in this town, this is awesome,” he said.
Deal Hudson, a Catholic political commentator, explained that he first became convinced of Steele's pro-life convictions by a 2003 meeting he invited Steele to with the U.S. Catholic bishops' executive committee.I know that there are some conservative concerns about Mr. Steele, who is seen as being more moderate than some of the other candidates for the chairman position. But aside from some confusion about whether Mr. Steele supports overturning Roe v. Wade there is little question that he takes pro-life positions in general, and thus is in a position to be a powerful voice for the unborn within the RNC.
According to Hudson, Steele spoke "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."
Steele's pro-life credentials were even further verified by his 2006 Senate run in Maryland, Hudson said.
The new chaiman was in good spirits Friday as he accepted the top post of the Republican National Committee. "It's time for something completely different, and we're gonna bring it to them," he said, according to FOX News. "Get ready, baby. It's time to turn it on."
"People like Mike," former Governor of Maryland Robert Ehrlich Jr. told the Baltimore Sun. "He's really charismatic. He's a really solid person. He's a solid family guy."
Michael Steele’s Catholic roots include attending Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington D.C. and then, in 1981, entering the seminary to study for the Augustinian Friars at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.
Time will tell, of course. But I find this choice interesting, and maybe even a little bit encouraging.