Book by Michael Steele
Right Now: The Twelve Step Program for Defeating the
* * * *
The Real Michael Steele
Michael Stephen Steele was born on Andrews Air
Force Base in Prince Georges County, Maryland on
October 19, 1958, but given up for adoption while
still in infancy. He was then raised by William and
Maebell Steele, although Maebell eventually
remarried following her husbandís untimely death in
attended Archbishop Carroll Roman Catholic High in
Washington, DC, before matriculating at Johns
Hopkins University where he earned a BA in
international studies. He subsequently studied to
become a monk for several years, until he decided to
leave the seminary shortly before being ordained.
Instead, he proceeded to earn a J.D. at Georgetown
University en route to landing a position as a staff
attorney at a leading, international law firm.
entered politics in 2000, which is when he was voted
Chairman of Marylandís Republican Party. A couple of
years later he won the Stateís race for Lieutenant
Governor, and by 2008 he had become the first
African-American ever elected to serve as Chairman
of the Republican National Committee (RNC).
He is currently
a commentator on MSNBC, where heís generally the
lone conservative in a sea of liberal pundits. Here,
the former RNC Chairman reflects on his life and
philosophy, on his hopes for the GOP, and on the
Partyís prospects for attracting more
African-American voters in 2012.
* * *
Hi Michael, thanks
for the interview. Iím happy to get you on the
phone, after trying to track you down for an
interview for a couple of years.
I am very
sorry to hear that, Kam.
Have you seen the
Fear of a Black Republican directed by Kevin
Williams? Heís the person who helped put me in touch
with you, finally.
Yes, I have seen it and, in November, I
will be attending a showing of it in New Jersey, and
participating in a discussion of the movie
I plan to attend,
too, so I look forward to meeting you in person that
day. Given your almost becoming a priest, and
Catholicismís concern with the plight of the poor, I
wonder what led you to the Republican Party, which I
see as more concerned with the welfare of the rich.
On what do you base that? What is the
genesis of the question? To ask me to answer that
straight out of the box assumes and presumes a lot
that I believe is not true about Republicans. Why
would you have that impression? What either
anecdotal or factual incident would you refer to as
an example of Republicans not caring for the poor?
Iím not thinking of
anything in particular. Itís just my general
Even though far more of the very people
who run the industrial complex of this country,
whether youíre talking about Wall Street or the
military, are in fact Democrats? [Chuckles] The CEOs
of the leading Fortune 500 companies are largely
Democrats. What that says to me is that we have lost
the definitional battle, as Republicans, because we
engage differently. Thatís one of the criticisms I
have about how Republicans position themselves, not
on the philosophical or policy landscape, but on the
political landscape. We always seem to position
ourselves in a way which works to our detriment. So
what we have is a failure to communicate which has
resulted in this perception that you have about
Republicans caring more about the wealthy, when most
of the Republicans that I know and deal with on a
day-to-day basis tend to be blue-collar people, not
country club types. Conversely, most of the wealthy
people Iíve dealt with in my political career have
Bob Christian asks:
What could Republicans do to attract more
African-Americans to the Party?
A couple of things. One is to own up to
our failures as a party, when it comes to making
important investments in the black community when it
counted, like during the Civil Rights Movement.
While we had been the architects of great civil
rights legislation like the 13th, 14th and 15th
Amendments and the 40 Acres and a Mule policy of the
Reconstruction Era, the party hesitated when it
really mattered in the 1950s and early 1960s, and
thereby lost an opportunity to preserve the
longstanding relationship between African-Americans
and the GOP. And we probably wouldnít be in the
position today where weíre suffering from an erosion
of support from African-Americans. Step Two would be
for us to show up in the community prepared to have
meaningful discussions about issues that actually
matter to us, like job creation, in a way which
makes sense. Thatís why my very first official act
as Chairman was to host a town hall meeting in
Harlem. To me, that was a very important step to
Teweles asks: How can people of color reconcile the
social and economic platform of the Republican Party
with the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King?
We could start off with the debate about
whether or not Dr. King was a Republican. We know
that Daddy King was. We know that African-Americans
of that era were largely Republican. Set that aside,
since what Harrietís asking here is more
fundamental. I would argue that, historically, major
pieces of civil rights legislation were sponsored by
and fought for by Republicans. There would not have
been a Civil Rights Act or a Voting Rights Act were
it not for the Republicans in the Senate who beat
back Southern Democrats who stood in the schoolhouse
doorway and other doorways of progress. So that link
to me is very, very important in terms of building
the bridge that is necessary for this generation
Thompson asks: What is you position on Affirmative
Iím in favor of Affirmative Action. We
created Affirmative Action. It was one of the
economic tools that the Nixon Administration put in
place to make sure that African-Americans enjoyed
fairer treatment in landing federal and state
contracts. Yet today, many think of it as something
Democrats created. No, it was something we created,
because it was consistent with our view of economic
empowerment. It wasnít a handout but a way of
leveling the playing field. As I like to say, Iím an
Affirmative Action baby. Iím a beneficiary, not just
professionally in terms of my career, but
academically, of those who stood with President
Nixon. I like to think of 40 Acres and a Mule as the
first Affirmative Action program, and I appreciate
that historic link from the Reconstruction Era to
the present day. I believe the Republican Party
ought to embrace that part of its history and I also
think itís an important asset for the
African-American community and other minorities to
have as they continue to compete for the American
Dream by creating the networks necessary to rebuild
the devastated neighborhoods that we currently live
asks: Is having your own Muppet on The Daily Show
the true measure of oneís becoming a cultural icon?
[Laughs heartily] Well, as I sit here
looking at my Muppet friend, I would say: it helps.
I know itís a way for Jon Stewart to poke fun at me
and the RNC, but I took it as a true compliment. I
learned a long time ago that if you canít laugh at
yourself and some of the crazy things you have to
put up with while doing a job, then you need to find
another line of work. I was just very flattered and
honored that they thought enough even to create such
Mirah Riben asks:
What did you think of Governor Christieís decision
not to run, and which Republican do you think has
the best chance of beating Obama in 2012?
I think Governor Christie made the right
choice because, as he says in his own words, heís
not ready. Heís a friend, I take him at his word
and, when the time comes, I look forward to
supporting his leadership nationally. In terms of
whoís going to take on Barack Obama, thatís going to
be measured out over then next four or five weeks,
quite honestly. I donít have a particular favorite
in the race. In fact, Iím contractually bound not to
under my analystís responsibilities at MSNBC.
However, we have on the stage individuals who will
be able to go toe-to-toe effectively with Barack
Mirah also asks:
Given the success of the Tea Party and now the
demonstrations against Wall St. in NYC which is
mushrooming into a national movement, do you think
the time is ripe for a viable third party?
Yes, I do. The real seedlings for what
could become a third party or at least a third way
probably began around 2005 with people who were
disappointed with the party. The Tea Party grew out
of a frustration with big government Republicanism.
And this movement we now see on Wall Street is
something that started in Wisconsin this past winter
in response to what Governor Walker was doing with
respect to state employees and collective
bargaining. So youíre seeing these elements in
society beginning to voice their opinions.
Personally, I think thatís exciting, and we should
pay close attention to it. And if youíre really
moved by it, get involved.
Helen Silvis asks:
Do you ever get embarrassed by fellow Republicans,
like Governor Perryís association with a place
called N-word Head Ranch?
Yes, I do, and it frustrates me to no end because,
in politics, perception is reality. And itís doubly
painful when reality exacerbates the perception. I
know the Governor, and this wasnít a racist act on
But it wasnít
enough just to paint the rock over. Remove it,
because you know whatís still beneath the paint. And
you know what that rock stands for and symbolizes.
That is a measure of your appreciation and your
sensitivity that we as a nation canít and wonít
Helen has a
follow-up: Is it lonely being a black Republican?
How did you even get mixed-up with the wrong crowd
in the first place?
[LOL] Well, I tend to be a contrarian, so
that makes it pretty easy for me to get mixed-up
with the wrong crowd. Look, you chart your own path
in life. You assess the various options that lie
before you, and you figure out where you can make a
difference. When I first considered getting involved
with the Republican Party, I decided to make the GOP
confront not only its past and its present, but its
future, including all the young African-Americans,
the entrepreneurs, businessmen and women, teachers,
moms and dads that we need to go out, talk to and
Patricia Turnier asks:
think that there is really any difference between
the left-wing and the right-wing in terms of concern
for the plight of black America, or is that an
Ahhh, thatís a good questionÖ Thatís a
good question, and an important one for how we as a
community go forward. On paper, yes. In reality, no.
It is true that Democrats, Liberals and the Left
take the African-American vote for granted every
single moment of every single day while Republicans,
Conservatives and the Right ignore the
African-American vote every single moment of every
single day. As a result, there is no political
effort addressing what have become systemic problems
for the African-American community. For all of the
talk and hand-clapping, Democrats have not produced
a hell of a lot to fix whatís wrong. Meanwhile, we
have not made the concrete effort to help the
community figure out how to tackle those problems.
That being said, we are just as responsible for our
situation as the political parties for being in the
mess weíre in because we take the one thing
politicians want the most, the vote, and misuse it.
We donít leverage the vote effectively by pressuring
politicians to pay attention to our agenda. Just
look at other communities and ask: Do they have the
same problems that we do?
Patricia also says:
have been a political trailblazer. What advice do
you have for minorities, the handicapped and females
who want to break through the glass ceiling?
Have the courage of your own convictions
in terms of what you believe, and donít back down
from that for one moment, because every day, you
have to be able to look in the mirror and say, ďI
like that person. I understand that person.Ē If you
canít do that, then your dreams wonít materialize.
They just wonít. Theyíll be co-opted by others, put
on a shelf, or dismissed. But when you believe very
firmly in who you are, everyone will pay attention
and respond to that and appreciate the leadership
and the qualities which make you unique, and theyíll
embrace it and want to be a part of it, even if they
disagree with some of your beliefs, because theyíll
see the total person. Thatís the key, getting people
to see the total person.
The Judyth Piazza
questions: How do you define success? And, what key
quality do you believe all successful people share?
Knowing youíve done your best. As a society, we tend
to be outcome determinative and only care about
winning, without concern for how we get there. But
for me, how you get there factors into it. How you
get there is everything. As for the quality
successful people share, Iíd say itís perseverance.
asks: What's the most important lesson you've
learned from politics?
[Chuckles] Man, thatís a good question. First, have
someone watch your back, and then have someone watch
them. Second, remember that you canít please
everybody, but you certainly can tick them all off
at the same time. And third, keep smiling; itíll
confuse the hell out of them.
Peter Keough asks: What was it like having Mike
Tyson for a brother-in-law? That must have made for
some very interesting family get-togethers.
[Chuckles] Really cool. Michael is a very warm guy.
Heís funny and very smart, and heíd be the first one
to tell you that a lot of his boxing persona was
just for the ring. Heís still a part of the family,
and we get together with him for various occasions
that are important to us and certainly to his kids.
also asks: What is your most valued spiritual
practice and how does it help you in the political
Would not survive
without it. Would not be where I am today without
it. I probably say forty to fifty prayers a day in
various ways. Sometimes, itís just to say, ďThank
you, Lord,Ē and He knows the rest. I turn to prayer
in those moments when I need to stop and recognize
that thereís something greater than me thatĎs going
to heal me or give me the wisdom I need right then.
And thatís powerful. Itís a practice that became a
part of me in the monastery. Iíd probably be a very
different person, if I hadnít entered the monastery
before I began my public life, and one you might not
want to deal with. [LOL]
Why did you leave
Because God leads you to your vocation
and to follow your calling. I had needed to confront
my demons and my shortcomings, along with my
positive qualities and put them all in proper
perspective to understand that it ainít all about
you. Thatís the problem with most public officials
today. They really believe itís all about them. So
public service takes on this sort of star quality,
despite the fact that as the Bible teaches theyíre
supposed to be served last, not first. If you donít
understand that in your leadership, you will end up
failing. Look at people like Congressmen Weiner,
Senator Vitter and others who have had their
personal shortcomings exposed because they thought
it was really all about them.
Thompson also asks: What do you see as your greatest
happening, and thatís helping my two boys become
strong black men.
Is there any
question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone
such a thing? [LOL] Oh, man, these are some good
The Tasha Smith
question: Are you ever afraid?
absolutely! Iím afraid every day.
The Columbus Short
question: Are you happy?
Yes, and you
can be both, afraid and happy. One feeds off the
other. It just depends on which one hits first.
The Teri Emerson
question: When was the last time you had a good
Itís been a
long time. There wasnít a lot funny about the last
two years. Itís been a long time.
What is your
expensive tastes. For example, I love collecting
watches, and Iíll spend a little coin on that.
The bookworm Troy
Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness. Iíve got it
The music maven
Heather Covington question: What are you listening
to on your iPod?
A mashup of
Rihanna by Kaskade.
What is your
favorite dish to cook?
The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite
Kwab Asamoah. Heís from Ghana, and his
company is called Kustom Looks.
When you look in the
mirror, what do you see?
If you could have
one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
[Chuckles] I suddenly feel like a beauty pageant
contestant. World peace! Seriously, thatís really a
hard question to answer for me because I wouldnít
waste my wish on something like a bigger car. It
would have to be for something inward or spiritual
as opposed to something outward or material.
The Ling-Ju Yen
question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
I can remember my father chasing me down
the hall in my diaper. He died a couple of years
later. I think itís one of those memories that God
gives you to hold onto. You donít realize it when
youíre young, but it hits you at some point later in
life that that was Godís way of reminding you.
Dante Lee, author of
Black Business Secrets, asks: ďWhat was the
best business decision you ever made, and what was
My best business decision was to start a
business on my own, to follow my entrepreneurial
spirit and to trust it. And my worst business
decision was to start a business on my own, to
follow my entrepreneurial spirit and to trust it.
Beekman question: What is your favorite charity?
The Sanaa Lathan
question: What excites you?
People! I just love meeting and being with people.
Iím usually the last person to leave an event
because you just want to grab every ounce of energy
you can from people. That excites me so much!
The Toure question:
Who is the person who led you to become the person
you are today?
My Mom, Maebell. A sharecropperís
daughter. A woman with a 5th grade education making
minimum-wage working in a laundromat. Her son grows
up to become the lieutenant governor of the state
and the chairman of a national political party.
Thatís all Maebell!
The Tavis Smiley
question: How do you want to be remembered?
Thanks again for the
time, Michael, and best of luck on MSNBC and with
all your endeavors.
posted 12 October 2011
* * *
The First Black Republicans
Juan Williams and the Tea Party
Herman Cain Now GOP Frontrunner /
Donald RitchieóFoundations of the U. Senate
Exploring Romney's Shifting Stances
* * *
to Goldman Enrich Romneyís Public and Private
LivesóNicholas Confessore, Peter Lattman, and Kevin
Rooseó27 January 2012ó When Bain Capital sought
to raise money in 1989 for a fast-growing
office-supply company named Staples,
Mitt Romney, Bainís founder, called upon a
trusted business partner: Goldman Sachs, whose
bankers led the companyís initial public offering.
When Mr. Romney became governor of Massachusetts,
his blind trust gave Goldman much of his wealth to
manage, a fortune now estimated to be as much as
$250 million. And as Mr. Romney mounts his
second bid for the presidency, Goldman is coming
through again: Its employees have contributed at
least $367,000 to his campaign, making the firm Mr.
Romneyís largest single source of campaign money
through the end of September.
company is so closely intertwined with Mr. Romneyís
public and private lives except Bain itself. And in
recent days, Mr. Romneyís ties to Goldman Sachs have
lashed another lightning rod to a campaign already
fending off withering attacks on his career as a
buyout specialist, thrusting the privileges of the
Wall Street elite to the forefront of the Republican
nominating battle. . . . But other elements of Mr.
Romneyís personal and business ties to Goldman may
prove more controversial. Bainís mid-1990s
acquisition of Dade Behring, a medical device maker
with factories in Florida, has become a totem of the
economic upheaval that
private equity can inflict. Goldman invested in
the acquisition, which brought the bank $120 million
and Bain $242 millionóbut led to the layoffs of
hundreds of workers in Miami.
hammered Mr. Romney over the deal this week. When
Mr. Romney was building Bain into one of the worldís
premier private equity firms, Goldmanís bankers
clamored for Bain business, and won assignments
advising or financing an array of Bain deals,
including Bainís 1997 $800 million buyout of Sealy,
the nationís largest mattress company, which it
later sold. As Mr. Romney amassed his fortune,
Goldman also offered up the services of an elite
Boston-based team in the bankís private wealth
management unit. The relationship gave him access to
Goldmanís exclusive investment funds, including
private equity vehicles known as Goldman Sachs
* * *
* * *
1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus
By Charles C. Mann
a big fan of Charles Mannís previous
New Revelations of the Americas Before
Columbus, in which he
provides a sweeping and provocative
examination of North and South America
prior to the arrival of Christopher
Columbus. Itís exhaustively researched
but so wonderfully written that itís
anything but exhausting to read. With
1493, Mann has taken it to a
new, truly global level. Building on the
groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby
The Columbian Exchange and, Iím
proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer),
Mann has written nothing less than the
story of our world: how a planet of what
were once several autonomous continents
is quickly becoming a single,
Mann not only talked to countless
scientists and researchers; he visited
the places he writes about, and as a
consequence, the book has a marvelously
wide-ranging yet personal feel as we
follow Mann from one far-flung corner of
the world to the next. And always, the
prose is masterful. In telling the
improbable story of how Spanish and
Chinese cultures collided in the
Philippines in the sixteenth century, he
takes us to the island of Mindoro whose
ďsouthern coast consists of a number of
small bays, one next to another like
tooth marks in an apple.Ē
We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato,
tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have
disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue
to do so until we are finally living on one
integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth.
Whether or not the human instigators of all this
remarkable change will survive the process they
helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago
remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and
revelatory book, an open question.
* * *
The People Debate the Constitution,
By Pauline Maier
A notable historian
of the early republic, Maier devoted a
decade to studying the immense
documentation of the ratification of the
Constitution. Scholars might approach
her bookís footnotes first, but history
fans who delve into her narrative will
meet delegates to the state conventions
whom most history books, absorbed with
the Founders, have relegated to
obscurity. Yet, prominent in their local
counties and towns, they influenced a
conventionís decision to accept or
reject the Constitution. Their
biographies and democratic credentials
emerge in Maierís accounts of their
elections to a convention, the political
attitudes they carried to the conclave,
and their declamations from the floor.
The latter expressed opponentsí
objections to provisions of the
Constitution, some of which seem
anachronistic (election regulation
raised hackles) and some of which are
thoroughly contemporary (the power to
tax individuals directly).
Ripostes from proponents, the Federalists, animate
the great detail Maier provides, as does her recounting how one
state conventionís verdict affected anotherís. Displaying the
grudging grassroots blessing the Constitution originally
received, Maier eruditely yet accessibly revives a neglected but
critical passage in American history.óBooklist
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Boisí
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
* * * * *
* * *
(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
update 9 March 2012