It does sort of look like a clerical collar

Oreo Trans Fat Suit12may03I'm sorry to return so quickly to the pages of the Wall Street Journal, but I do live in Maryland only a few miles up the highway from Annapolis. Thus, the new James Taranto profile of the controversial GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate caught my eye. That candidate, of course, is Michael Steele, the state's 6-foot-4 African American lieutenant governor who, during the 2002 campaign, the Baltimore Sun editorial board slapped with this dismissive phrase -- he "brings little to the team but the color of his skin."

You may remember that Steele is the public official who had Oreo cookies (you know, black on the outside, white on the inside) tossed at him during a public appearance. And then there was that flap about the liberal wing of the blogosphere and the infamous headline "I's Simple Sambo and I's running for the Big House."

Taranto's profile makes it clear that Steele is a rather complex man, with economic and social views that are not hardcore GOP. But he is a moral conservative. He grew up as a Democrat and his emotional tie to the party of Ronald Reagan formed, Steele explained, because he heard the Gipper affirming the basic moral values of his mother.

But you know there had to be more to the situation than that. Sure enough, this appears to be yet another "pew gap" story.

Taranto does not spotlight this angle, but it is hard to miss this reference in a story about a political life that bridges the Roe era.

(Steele) earned a degree from Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, spent a few years studying at a Catholic seminary, and eventually settled in Prince George's County, Md., where he became the local GOP chairman and later state chairman. If Mr. Steele is a Reaganite, he is not a doctrinaire right-winger. On several issues he takes what seem to be liberal positions, though he explains them in terms that a conservative can appreciate. He opposes capital punishment, he says, "because I'm pro-life."

In other words, Steele is Catholic and is serious enough about his faith that, as a young man, he actively sought the priesthood. That would make him a poor fit in the Libertarian wing of the Republic Party. But it would make him a heretic in the modern Democratic Party. Ask the once pro-life Jesse Jackson, who in 1977 wrote in National Right to Life News:

"It takes three to make a baby: a man, a woman and the Holy Spirit. What happens to the mind of a person, and the moral fabric of a nation, that accepts the aborting of the life of a baby without a pang of conscience? What kind of a person and what kind of a society will we have 20 years hence if life can be taken so casually?"

So there is the religion ghost in the Steele story up here in Maryland. I will watch the local newspapers to see if this element of the story gets any ink. A quick search at the Baltimore Sun site turned up very little, in terms of recent coverage on this angle of one of the biggest stories in state politics.

Surely I missed something. I'll keep looking.

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