Special Sunday Post: RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s bizarre interview with Univision’s Jorge Ramos

LatinaLista — For months now, I’ve resisted trying to equate Michael Steele with Sarah Palin — a Republican Party choice (a.k.a. token) to appease a certain demographic. Palin was to appeal to women voters. Steele was to be the public olive branch to people of color.

steelemodee.jpg

The trouble is the Republican Party got more than what they bargained for with both of them. This morning’s interview between Michael Steele and Univision’s anchor Jorge Ramos, on the news show Al Punto, exemplifies the point beautifully.

Either Steele just doesn’t have the eloquence when it comes to thinking on your feet or he’s parroting Republican party rhetoric that I find hard to believe that Latino Republicans totally agree with. Either way, it makes for a bizarre exchange.

In fact, the whole interview, which touched on issues of racism and Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize, health care and the Hispanic vote, provides enough “blogger fodder” to last a couple of weeks.

But it’s one of those things that you have to believe for yourself. So, thanks to Univision’s PR dept. who sent Latina Lista the transcript of this morning’s interview, I republish it here — reserving the right to blog more about it this week.


TRANSCRIPT:
INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL STEELE
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2009

Jorge Ramos – Mr. Steele, thank you so much for talking to us. I really appreciate it.

Michael Steele – My pleasure.

Jorge Ramos – Let’s start talking about the Noble Peace Prize. I remember clearly that when leaders of Guatemala, Argentina and South Africa won the Noble Peace Prize most of the citizens were celebrating. That was not the case here in America when President Barack Obama won the Noble Peace Prize. Why do you really believe he has done nothing to deserve it?

Michael Steele – Well, I think the reality of it is given when the nomination process closed 11 days after the President’s inauguration it stretched credibility, certainly credulity to think that in 11 days the administration of this President had done anything to warrant such an honorable and notable distinction of service and I think that the bottom-line for a lot of Americans, and this is not about conservatives or about Republicans having anything to say. This is America across the political spectrum, kind of went and shook their head, and went wait a minute, this doesn’t sound right, it doesn’t feel right because the administration is just in its 9th month, 10th month of service to the nation. We’ve yet to see the full measure of what the President’s efforts are going to bare in term of the fruit of peace that would award that type of distinction.

Jorge Ramos – I want to get your opinion on this comment. As you know a few days ago, a few weeks ago, President Carter said that, according to him, that the opposition to President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man. Do you agree?

Michael Steele – no, no.

Jorge Ramos – For instance, when you hear commentators like Glenn Beck saying that for him President Barack Obama is a racist, with a deep seeded hatred for white people, how do you react?

Michael Steele – That’s one man’s opinion.

Jorge Ramos – Yes, but…

Michael Steele – That’s one man’s opinion.

Jorge Ramos – but should you defend Barack Obama against these types of comments? I don’t know, it’s just a question.

Michael Steele – No, no, look the reality of it is when I ran for the United States’ Senate and I was called an Uncle Tom by leading Democrats in the country, when I was called a slave by Steny Hoyer who is now the majority leader in the House no one came running to my defense and no one seemed to think that that was racists at the time. I don’t play the race card, I don’t play the race game, the way some tend to want to do. When people have legitimate and I think clear policy differences with the President of the United States, that’s not a racist issue, that is a policy based discrepancy or difference of opinion that we can have the debate about in the public square everyday, but, you know, I am sure you and I know I do, know real racism when it rears its ugly head. I rather fight that than to play the game that Jimmy Carter was playing.

 

Jorge Ramos – Republican Senator Olympia Snowe has announced that she will vote for a healthcare reform bill. Are you disappointed, do you expect more Republicans to vote for it?

Michael Steele – I don’t, if it’s what we’ve seen produced so far in the House and in the Senate. I don’t think we need a comprehensive overhaul of our healthcare system because our healthcare system, while it remains the best in the country and while it provides largely the services that people need and the quality of those services are very, very good, there are costs associated with this system that needs to be address more directly.

Jorge Ramos – But there are 40 or 50 million people who don’t have health insurance. Right?

Michael Steele – The President himself has said it’s not 40 to 50 number one, number two, the President himself has reduced that number to 30 and the actual number of people who legitimately need to access this healthcare system are around 12 to 15 million, but if that’s the number, I’ll take your 40 to 50 million if that is the number you want to use, the question then becomes, how much, who pays and where does the money come from and the administration continues to fail to address that issue in an honest way for the people to appreciate exactly what this cost is going to be for a complete overhaul of our system versus what Republicans have argued… It’s commonsense solution, it doesn’t require a nationalizing of our healthcare system, and it doesn’t involve or require a great government intrusion through regulation and taxation and other confiscatory policies. What it requires is applying a little, you know elbow grease, to allow those businesses, those Hispanic businesses for example, under the market place and get the healthcare that they need.

Jorge Ramos – Mr. Steele, lets talk a little bit about immigration, you’ve said that we need meaningful immigration reform. I want to find out exactly what you mean, what would you do for instance with the 12 million undocumented immigrants who are already here in the United States, what is your plan?

Michael Steele – Well, and that’s a very good question and that becomes the jump up point for any discussion among others that we need to deal with. First, I think my first view of it is; I am sick and tired of people playing the hot politics of immigration. I am hoping the administration as we get ready to go into next year and future years bring the level head to it. I am certainly arguing for Republicans to have a level head in dealing with this issue, because it affects people’s lives, weather they are here illegally or legally, it affects lives. So that is the first and foremost thing, we got to stay true to our character as a nation, we must recognize that. Number two, I think as I found with a lot of Hispanics, particularly those who have been her for several generations, they understand and respect the rule of law that is so important as a foundational principle of this country…I can sum it up for you this way, the party as I said is always the party, its been the party of assimilation and that is something that we believe in very firmly and basically what we should be saying is that there are rules that you need to get into the country, go the right door, fill out the right form, have some apple pie, hum a few bars of the star spangle banner and get to work, God bless you, and I think that that begins to set us on the right road to dealing with this issue.

Jorge Ramos – Why do you refer to undocumented immigrants as illegal aliens? I’ve spoken with John McCain and Barack Obama, to give you two examples, and they don’t use those terms they call them undocumented immigrants. Why do you call them illegal aliens?

Michael Steele – Well, if they are here illegally I got a call it what it is. I mean if you can be undocumented, look you can dress it up anyway you want the reality of it is the status is the key feature here, and if the status is such that you did not come thru the regular process, that you did not present yourself properly, to be documented then you are here illegally.

Jorge Ramos – One last question, in the last election the Republican party got 31 percent of the Hispanic vote down from 44 percent. What went wrong? And, how are you planning to get back the Hispanic vote? Especially when the majority of Latinos favor legalization.

Michael Steele – I think the key thing is, your supposition of your question assumes that is the only issue that matters (Jorge Ramos: Of course not) to Latinos, and that’s my point, it isn’t. And so, I would not. I would not say in the first instance that a drop in support for Republicans was hinged on that one particular issue. I think the Republican Party failed to engage in a creative way, or an honest way as it had done in the past with many members of the Latino community…there were a number of areas where we came off track as a party and my goal is to get us back on track. A discussion on immigration is one, engaging those 1.6 million small business owners that are Hispanic is another, by having conversations on education and healthcare is just a few others… I think this party, the Republican Party stands a lot closer to the hearts and souls of Hispanic families, Hispanic businesses, and the Hispanic community at large, that a lot of people want to give us credit for, which we may even give ourselves credit for. So I’m hoping over the next few years as we engage in debates in the battle of big ideas, to be right at that table with my Hispanic friends and neighbors making the case for the GOP.

Jorge Ramos – Mr. Steele, thank you so much and I really appreciate that you are taking the time to talk to us.

Michael Steele – I appreciate you, thank you so much.

==End of Interview===

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to stay informed and up to date with articles delivered to your feed reader. Invite a friend to read news on LatinaLista.

Related posts

19 Comments

  1. dee said:

    Thank you Marisa! Great Scoop!
    In a nutshell, Steele is telling Latinos to suck it up. Deal with the issues. Republicans are not going to listen to you at all!
    I wonder why he even bothered to appear on Univision!
    Summary:
    Q1. Obama – Nobel Peace Prize.
    Steele: He didn’t deserve it.
    Q2. Racist Attacks Against President Obama by Beck, Fox, et al. Should you defend the President.
    Steele: No. Let him deal with it on his own. I had to.
    Q3. Olympia Snow voting for healthcare reform. Will more Republicans vote for it?
    Steele: No.
    Q4. +40M Americans have no healthcare: who’s gonna pay for it?
    Steele: businesses need to get it for them, not government. Apply elbow grease.
    Q5. Immigration Reform. What do you do with the 12M?
    Steele: 1. it affects lives. recognize that. 2. respect the rule of law. So assimilate and come in legally. That gets us on the right track.
    Q6. Why refer to them as illegal aliens vs undocumented workers? Steele: I call it what it is.
    Q7. Republican party not getting hispanic votes. how do you change that? Steele: Most Latinos don’t care about Immigration. Republicans should engage in discussion about small business, education, healthcare.

  2. cookie said:

    Maybe I missed something but what was bizarre about the interview? Steele gave forthright and sensible answers to all the questions.
    So Steele is a token black guy for the Republican party? Was Condolessa Rice, Colin Powell, etc. also tokens? How about Bush picking that Hispanic for Attorney General when he was in office? Was he a token also? So Palin was picked to placate the women? Does that mean that Obama picked Hillary for Secretary of State to placate the women also? I am sure there are plenty more examples from both parties along these same accusatory lines.

  3. David said:

    cookie, I also understand that supporting the GOP you have to dumb yourself down several IQ point in order to ignore the blatant GOP racism against non-whites.
    Look what the GOP did to Sonia Sotomayor, a person of proud Puerto Rican heritage.
    The GOP took her entire body of work and crucified her for saying she was proud to be a Latina woman.
    You live on another planet if you think the GOP supports women, minorities or gay people.

  4. Jacque said:

    Our country “has the best health care in the country”??
    Did he really say that?

  5. cookie said:

    David, nice stereotyping of the entire Republican party there. All the while you ignore the women and minorities that are in the Republican party that I mentioned. Is that why Palin was the VP candidate because they hate women?
    As for Sotomayer the Republicans that objected to her did so based on her record and on her remark that was not only racist but sexist. No, she didn’t just say that she was proud to be a Latino woman and you know that! It went a lot further than that.

  6. 0whole1 said:

    >Maybe I missed something but what was bizarre about the interview? Steele gave forthright and sensible answers to all the questions.
    Well, the most-often quoted bit about whistling, apple pie, etc. seems to me like he’s saying, “The problem is there is no problem, but if there *was* a problem, it’d be with you. Fill out paperwork, stop being lazy, and assimilate as Anglo, and everything will be fine.”
    Which comes off as at the very least hand-waving problems away, at the very medium as uncaring and dismissive, and at most indicative of innate cultural chauvanism.
    Just my opinion.

  7. cookie said:

    Owhole, I don’t get your interpretation of Steele’s answers from the interview at all. He didn’t say there wasn’t a problem with illegal immigration just that immigrants should come here the right way. He didn’t really answer the question of what to do with those here illegally already. Probably because he knew that if he said we should enforce our immigration laws he would be toast with Univision and their Hispanic followers.
    As for assimilation, haven’t we always been a melting pot? That doesn’t mean that immigrants can’t retain their native languages and cultures at home. It just means being a part of the melting pot culture out in mainstream America. Why should immigrants even come here if they don’t want to learn or speak our language and adopt our culture? Stay at home then!
    Sounds like you resent our basic “anglo” culture from your remarks. Would you also resent the Asian culture if you moved to China? Should I resent the Hispanic culture if I moved to Mexico?

  8. dee said:

    Marisa,
    Looks like your commenters are missing the point like mine did when I reprinted your article.
    Maybe this will help your commenters understand:
    Let’s all agree to the following:
    1. Steele did not answer the “what to do about the 12M” question and instead side stepped it.
    2. Motivation: He participated in the Univision interview (either by invitation or by his own request) to woo Latino voters.
    Knowing these 2 truths, go back and read his answers again.
    My 1st reaction after reading his comments was: What does he take us for, fools? He didn’t answer the questions directly and is an ANTI to boot.
    If Steele has the ANTI Immigration Reform perspective and thinks he can win over Latino vote purely based on the so-called “Family Values” connection between Conservatives & Latinos then he should have said so. Point blank. Something like:
    Steele: “I am a strong believer in secure borders. Beef up the borders. Send the 12M back to country of origin through attrition or mass deportation. Those of you who disagree with me, then don’t vote Republican again.
    I do believe Republicans share the same Family, Christian and Conservative values as Latinos. Those of you who agree with me should join the Republican party.
    As far as the economy is concerned, I do not believe in socialism. We do not need more government intervention or socialism. We should do away with social policies of all sorts, including Medicare and Social Security. Let the states decide these issues, not the federal government. If you agree, join the republican party. If not, join the democratic party.”
    =============
    If Steele did this, then people would at least respect him for telling the truth and knowing where he stood and be for him/Republicans or against them.

  9. 0whole1 said:

    > Is that why Palin was the VP candidate because they hate women?
    No, Palin was their VP candidate because *they think very little* of women — or *think* about them not at all. IE, qualifications don’t matter, only “womanness” since women voters are, basically either stupid or identity-only voters, so any-old-woman-will-do.
    Also too, Palin mouthed the nouns and occasionally the gerunds that Christianist voters like to hear.

  10. Cindy Chang said:

    The point of the article wasn’t clear at all, as apparently we were all to read between the lines and assume that we’d all be righteously indignant in our hatred of the Republican party.
    “1. Steele did not answer the “what to do about the 12M” question and instead side stepped it.”
    It’s self evident. The get repatriated and once more become the responsibility of their home countries who should have been caring for them all along.
    “If Steele has the ANTI Immigration Reform perspective and thinks he can win over Latino vote purely based on the so-called “Family Values” connection between Conservatives & Latinos …”
    Conservative family values of Republicans do not include an epidemic of out-of-wedlock birth or the disregard of our immigration laws or dropping out of high school. It is apparent to me that Latino family values are overrated, honored more with talk than action these days. I’d say that conservatives have more in common with Asians who don’t have these problems.

  11. alamb said:

    Just a thought. Why are Hispanics always and forever Hispanics and say me an American of Greek and French heritage just referred to as American and my son is an American and is not referred to as Greek or Francophone? I am sorry but this blatant double standard is insane. Hispanic is an ethnicity, not a race. What has been happening in the Hispanic community is rapid growth in the last 20-ish years and there is nothing wrong with that. We should ALL welcome Hispanics. What we don’t welcome is illegal immigration and the manipulation of our system to legitimize 10 to 15 million Hispanics here illegally. Even Hispanic Americans resent that. It is wrong. What is also wrong is this notion that Hispanic are changing America in a way that they and only they, among all other ethnicities, have a special right to their language and special “racial” status. This is being played beautifully by some so-called Hispanic leaders and idiotic pandering politicans. This is crazy demographic hegemony and has no place in our society. It is enough! This is the United States and I am sorry we will not be balkanized, it will not work, as simple as that. And Jorge Ramos no you will not be able to see the day when we legislate in Spanish in the congress. If Spanish is so important to you then go back and live in your country of origin. I am sure that there they are as proud of their language as we are of ours. It is time that Hispanics who want to live in this country assimilate/integrate or whatever term doesn’t offend them, just like the rest of us. And if the powers that be, that make money by taking advantage of a huge Hispanic market want to to do that, it’s fine. Nothing wrong with that but to to believe that this is a movement to creat a Nueva Americana Latina is insane and misplaced. I call on all Hispanics to be Americans and if they love Univision good for them, I personally do watch Univision and TV5. It is enough. The big reason why immigration reform is not happening is precisely that we Americans know about this nonsense coming from the likes of some radical so-called Hispanic leaders. It’s unseemly, wrong, un-American and down right insulting to all of us who immigrated (i did and legally) to thsi country coming from all around the world, all races, ethnicities, nationalities, languages. We came to America, to the United States, not to Estados Unidos. Enough is enough and I call on all Hispanic to let their leaders to tamp it down because all of this is no good at all and is very bad PR. Let’s help Hispanic kids do well in school, let’s help their parents integrate in American society but if some in this community seek to change some American fundamentals I say to them you are far too late – you should have been here in 1776. We are not interested in recasting our Nation! The question facing some Hispanics is why are you here, why did you come to the United States? If they can answer in ways that respects who we are as Americans then welcome!
    Good day.

  12. cookie said:

    Neither Medicare nor SS are socialistic policies. Americans pay into SS all their lives with the purpose of drawing on it later in life. Monthly premiums are deducted from one’s SS amount for Medicare. So no, it isn’t a give-a-way with no contributions being put in like basic socialism is.

  13. 0whole1 said:

    > if he said we should enforce our immigration laws he would be toast with Univision and their Hispanic followers.
    Well, that’s the thing. The “apple pie” couple of sentences pretty much read to me as him saying Hispanics are lazy, stupid, and not worth as much as Anglos. He didn’t *use the words* “lazy” etc, but….
    > As for assimilation, haven’t we always been a melting pot?
    Well, there was a *song* about melting pots on Schoolhouse Rock in the 70s. Other than that, “melting pot” seems to me to be a basically meaningless phrase. There’s been immigrants and the people already here, and there’s been folks with
    political and military power and those without. Ask the Cherokee whose great-grandfathers got booted out of North Carolina if America is a melting pot. Ask the Irish getting off the boat in NYC about the “Irish Need Not Apply” signs hanging in storefronts if America was a melting pot. Ask blacks in the South for the last, what 100 years? 250 years? 400 years? if America is a melting pot. And so forth. It’s a melting pot given enough time for kids to stop caring about what got their grandparents all riled up. Other than that, not so much, IMO.
    > It just means being a part of the melting pot culture out in mainstream America.
    Your use of “mainstream” kinda sounds like you implying “white” to me. Which boils down to a basic problem in this country re: “white” being preceived as some kind of default or baseline and other folks as deviations from that baseline.
    > Why should immigrants even come here if they don’t want to learn or speak our language and adopt our culture?
    That’s an easy one: money, and an opportunity for political, day-to-day stability — in other words, being able to take for granted (for the most part) that your house won’t be bombed over night, etc. When you get down to it, I wouldn’t think “culture” would rate high on the list, and “language” wouldn’t rate at all, for most folks.
    > Stay at home then!
    Why?
    > Sounds like you resent our basic “anglo” culture from your remarks.
    I *am* anglo. I don’t resent it, I just appreciate it. All of it. If you see what I’m saying.
    > Would you also resent the Asian culture if you moved to China? Should I resent the Hispanic culture if I moved to Mexico?
    You keep using the word “culture”. I’m not sure it means what you think it means.

  14. Maria Ortiz said:

    “No, Palin was their VP candidate because *they think very little* of women — or *think* about them not at all. IE, qualifications don’t matter, only “womanness” since women voters are, basically either stupid or identity-only voters, so any-old-woman-will-do.”
    Nothing but empty ignorant hate rhetoric without foundation in fact. Do you agree with such sterotyping, Marisa?

  15. Marisa Treviño said:

    Maria, I understood the writer of that response to be sarcastically equating how Republicans view women and I didn’t take it seriously, nor do I think that writer thinks that way either. Yet, I have to say, when McCain’s camp first announced Palin’s selection, I saw it completely as pandering to women voters, especially when there were available more experienced and seasoned Republican women politicians.
    From my viewpoint, they, and I mean the Republican party, thought Palin would be someone who would go along with everything and just be thankful she was chosen. When she started speaking out and making her own news, she became problematic to the party and to McCain.
    That the leaders of the GOP, and members of McCain’s camp, would have such an old-fashioned expectation — that women should be seen and not heard — illustrated to me just how old the party leadership is and what their mindset has been. The only evidence I have backing up that assertion is anecdotal but it was the response of the McCain camp to Palin and how things got “leaked” to the press about her diva behavior.
    The GOP is in need of serious new leadership, in my opinion, who understand that the days of women doing what they’re told pretty much ended in the horse and buggy days, if it really even existed back then.
    The party leaders are not including their younger members, their female members and members of color to the extent that they should be. Hopefully, members from these segments can stage a coup and take over party leadership before the current leadership runs the party into irrelevance. Note – I’m being somewhat sarcastic.

  16. 0whole1 said:

    > Maria, I understood the writer of that response to be sarcastically equating how Republicans view women and I didn’t take it seriously, nor do I think that writer thinks that way either.
    Yes, that’s what I meant.
    If they were shooting for a woman, they could have picked somebody like Hutchinson (R-TX) — but they chose Palin. Such a decision, IMO, said that whoever was doing the deciding was ONLY looking at her gender and her religious/social conservative amalgam, and not at her lack of ability to govern. This implies that they thought voters were only looking at those 2 qualities too, or that those 2 qualities were enough to override her down sides.

  17. Aaron said:

    “That the leaders of the GOP, and members of McCain’s camp, would have such an old-fashioned expectation — that women should be seen and not heard — illustrated to me just how old the party leadership is and what their mindset has been. The only evidence I have backing up that assertion is anecdotal but it was the response of the McCain camp to Palin and how things got “leaked” to the press about her diva behavior.”
    Is this just your opinion, Marisa, born out of blind hatred of the GOP, or do you actually have some evidence of these misogynist tendencies?

  18. Marisa Treviño said:

    Aaron, Of course this is my opinion – it’s my blog! And to set the record straight, I don’t hate the GOP. I have many family members who belong to it. When formulating opinion, as you should know, it’s rare someone or some organization blatantly says “we endorse keeping women in their place” or any other nonsense. The saying is actions speak louder than words — just follow the trail, connect the dots and come to your own conclusion. This is mine!

  19. Harry Thompson said:

    Re: Jorge Ramos interview w/Michael Steele
    Marisa, thanks for posting it…it`s laughable that jimma carter criticizes Chairman NObama because he`s black, but no mention that he`s also 50% white. NObama did deserve the nobel peace-nik prize, regardless of time in the presidency.
    As a proud, ego-driven RINO, it`s no surprise that olympia snowe, is a pro-NObama, pro-pelosi, healthscare proponent. snowe should follow the other proud RINO, arlen specter, & join the (D)ependency Party, that would gladly welcome her.
    Per the symbathy cry that 40/50 million people don`t have healthscare insurance, the same amount don`t have personal jets, but it`s not the responsibility of taxpayers to provide either.
    Steele`s plan for illegal aliens is a start, but it should go even farther, to the rulebook of the United States government, aka, the U. S. Constitution, that Chairman NObama & his pro-illegal comrade in congress, juan mcamnesty, took an oath to support, but choose to
    ignore.
    And finally, wanted to respond to Connie`s view of risky Socialist Insecurity…true, mandatory FICA `contributions` are taken out of employees` paychecks, unfortunately, Socialist Insecurity benefits are lost to the government, when FICA payers don`t live to collect any benefits, or have no eligible survivors.
    In the real world, operators of Ponzi schemes are jailed, recall Bernie Madoff? But corrupt politicians are praised & glorfied for running the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, Socialist Insecurity.
    Let the revolution begin, again…no more FICA taxation, without representation. Help restore 10th Amendment rights.
    Marisa, do you have Jorge Ramos` email address?

Comments are closed.

Top