Steele, the Jews, and Big Tent Republicanism

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RJC.jpegJTA’s Eric Fingerhut reports that Michael Steele enjoyed good relations with the Jewish community in Maryland. Neil Rubin of the Baltimore Jewish Times sees it a little differently. There was that unfortunate incident where Steele compared stem-cell research to Nazi experiments. Rubin also calls attention to Steele’s role as head of President Bush’s faith-based operation in the state, when he was less that forthcoming about how that was to operate. The main point Rubin makes–and it’s picked up by James Besser over at the New York Jewish Week, is that by the standards of Maryland Republicanism, Steele is a real social conservative. That is to say, he’s a far cry from your standard, pro-choice Northeast GOP governor type.
But the question, for my money, is less what Steele’s own positions may be (or have been) than how he conducts party rebuilding. If he’s serious about the task, he’s got to get social moderates back under the tent. And in that regard, Jewish Republicans may be a useful bellwether. No one believed Obama would win close to 80 percent of the Jewish vote in November, and so long as the GOP is known as the POP (Party of Palin), they’re not coming back.