I also spent some time this weekend at the NRI summit and Jeb Bush wasn’t the only out-of-work politician keeping his future options open. The ever-affable Michael Steele participated in a panel discussion with Ward Connerly and Abigail Thernstrom. Steele was polished in his presentation and hinted that his days in politics aren’t over yet.
There was a very understated disagreement between the former Maryland lieutenant governor and the rest of the panelists. While Thernstrom and Connerly both spoke forcefully against racial preferences, as you’d expect. Steele applauded their remarks but took a different tack. In his opening statement, he specifically praised the Republican Party’s role in creating affirmative action and compared it to the post-emancipation promise of 40 acres and a mule. At the end of the discussion, he said that talk about preferences was “noise” compared to the need for minority educational advancement, which he argued would undermine the constituency for preferential policies.