Profiles in Whatever You Would Call That
The Romney campaign’s recent hire of Richard Grenell was met with a little controversy for a couple of reasons—for one, he had a bit of a mean sense of humor on Twitter (although that was easily deleted, if not entirely forgotten) and for another, he was openly gay. It looks like it was the latter detail that lead to Grenell’s resignation today, as Jennifer Rubin reports:
Richard Grenell, the openly gay spokesman recently hired to sharpen the foreign policy message of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, has resigned in the wake of a full-court press by anti-gay conservatives.
In a statement obtained by Right Turn, Grenell says:
I have decided to resign from the Romney campaign as the Foreign Policy and National Security Spokesman. While I welcomed the challenge to confront President Obama’s foreign policy failures and weak leadership on the world stage, my ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign. I want to thank Governor Romney for his belief in me and my abilities and his clear message to me that being openly gay was a non-issue for him and his team.
According to sources familiar with the situation, Grenell decided to resign after being kept under wraps during a time when national security issues, including the president’s ad concerning Osama bin Laden, had emerged front and center in the campaign.
This is really quite disappointing. The last week or so has focused attention on Romney’s foreign policy views, and Grenell might have been able to, well, do the thing he was presumably hired for and help the campaign craft a consistent message if the social conservatives could actually bring themselves to view a person based on his merits, not his identity, and if the Romney campaign wasn’t—how should I put this?
The gutlessness of the Romney campaign has become its one, consistent theme. This issue might very well have proved another possible “Sister Souljah” moment for Romney—an opportunity to tell the social conservative concern trolls to take a hike. What does he owe to them, anyway? They generally backed the snotty but theocratic Santorum during the primary, and will only continue to bedevil him so long as he shows a willingness to yield to them—and yet they’ve been the most reliably Republican voters with the most marked distaste for Obama. The likelihood that a snub would drive them to Obama is remote, the more likely scenario that some would just stay home might be offset by not losing people who catch on that he really doesn’t have a coherent foreign policy. You know—since that might matter a little more than whether his campaign spokesperson is gay in the grand scheme of things.
This is not to say that I’m a Grenell fangirl—actually, I know little about him other than he worked with John Bolton—and since I am familiar with Bolton, I can assume that he and I would have some strongly differing views on certain issues. Yet, say what you will about neoconservatism, at least it’s an ethos.
As it is, Romney and surrogates have floundered into what amounts to a 3 AM trap—we know what happens at 3 AM with President Obama: if you’re Osama bin Laden or the like, he calls you, and you won’t like it. Romney has said, variously, re: bin Laden, that he would not move heaven and earth to get him, that anyone with a brain would have made the call Obama did (leaving us to wonder where Romney’s brain was in 2007) and that even President Carter would have made the same call.
This last bit, of course is unfortunate to have said, since, as James Fallows points out, Carter did make a similar call with less positive results. And it really looks to me like a ham-handed way of tying Obama to Carter—a one-term president. Does Romney want to play Reagan?
I’m afraid he’d need to be a better communicator for that.
As for his surrogates, former rivals McCain and Guiliani, I’d really have to say they do less than nothing for him. McCain’s whinge that “Heroes don’t brag” is countered by his own record of basically running on his service, while having a foreign policy (“We are all Georgians”? “Bomb, bomb Iran?” “We’ll stay in Iraq for a hundred years”? Picking Sarah Palin for a running mate, when she could very probably lose a game of Risk to a reasonably peppy sloth?) that ended up scaring off several smart people in 2008. Of “a noun, a verb, 9/11” Guiliani, the less said about whether he ever politicized the war on terror, the better, because this is a blog post, not a book.
So what do we end up seeing as Romney’s position from this affair? To describe in a word—supine. This same position is what is expected from him on the economic front as well.
So to that extent, I guess he could be called consistent.