Was Richard Grenell, Romney’s recently hired, openly gay spokesman on international relations, fired or did he really resign on his own volition, as the campaign claims? Charles Pierce at Esquire believes it was the former, because, after all, Romney has said he enjoys firing people:
It’s remarkable, this shitcanning of Richard Grenell as foreign-policy spokescritter for the Romneybot 2.0. Remarkable still for its being handled with such notable dispatch. First, you hire on the former mouthpiece for authoritarian nutbag John Bolton to establish further your neo-conservative foreign-policy gravitas. It turns out the guy is openly gay, so bonus! (Remember, all you wavering and otherwise vacant “independent” voters: Once, I was going to be a gayer senator than Teddy Kennedy. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.) Then, of course, the guy turns out to be just as crackers as his former boss — Bad-mouthing the lovely Callista Gingrich? Calumnizing kindly Doc Maddow? My seconds will call on yours, sir! — and, because he’s gay, the megachurches scramble the flying monkeys into the air and, within two weeks, Grenell is as fired as an Ampad worker.
Andrew Sullivan, who has insight into the gay conservative movement, believes Grenell resigned because Romney refused to come to his defense after Bryan Fisher, a hate group apparatchik, accused Grenell — who is in a committed relationship and, counter to his party, advocates marriage equality — of probably engaging in “random, frequent, and anonymous sexual encounters” (because, you know, heterosexuals, especially anti-gay evangelical leaders, are never promiscuous), a factor that, Fisher says becomes “a significant issue when we’re talking about appointing somebody to a post as sensitive as a spokesman for national security and foreign policy.” (Talk about exhuming McCarthy!)
Sullivan says the triggering incident in Grenell’s defenestration was a conference call with reporters held by the Romney campaign’s foreign policy team on April 26, several days after Fisher’s attacks began. Although the campaign’s spin now is that Grenell was not yet on the campaign payroll at the time, Sullivan reports that it was Grenell who set up the call, which was a response to Vice Pres. Joe Biden’s “big stick” speech on international relations.
Just prior to the call, Sullivan says, the campaign reversed course and ordered Grenell, their spokesman on foreign relations, not to say a word during the call. (The call made news, but not for the reasons the Romneyites had hoped. Their “experts” stepped all over the campaign’s messaging by erroneously referring both to the threat from the long-defunct Soviet Union and criticizing Pres. Obama for not protecting Czechoslovakia, a country that ceased to exist in 1993.)
Grenell was silenced, Sullivan says, in hopes that the campaign could wait out the storm caused by Fisher’s smears. Even when Grenell’s former boss John Bolton issued a statement supporting Grenell, the campaign opted not to email it out to reporters, but rather made it available only upon request. In fact, just about the only notable support for Grenell came from the leader of a gay Republican group — and even that came only after Grenell was forced out:
“This was an unforced error, and one that could have been avoided if the Romney campaign had simply said early on we have 100 percent faith in Ric Grenell to do his job,” said Chris Barron, one of the co-founders of the group GOProud. “Does anyone in the world doubt that if had been an evangelical or a Mormon or a Jewish person that the Romney campaign would not have defended that person? It is hard for me to comprehend why the Romney campaign chose to leave Ric Grenell hanging out there the way that they did.”
He added, “Every campaign when you’re at this moment where you’re making the transition from the primary to the general election looks for their Sistah Souljah moment. And this could have been Romney’s Sistah Souljah moment. He could have said, look, this is a guy who was spokesman at the United Nations. This is a guy who served under John Bolton … and by God, I’m not going to let a handful of extremists bring him down.”
The impact, Barron said, was specific: “This is a great day for Obama.”
It was also a great day for hate groups. Bryan Fisher issued this triumphant tweet, “Gov. Romney will do the right thing if it’s politically expedient. Let’s make it expedient for him to do many right things.”