GOP Death Watch

So Now We Know: President Romney Would Do Anything Right-Wing Homophobes Want

If you had any doubts about what kind of president Mitt Romney would be, the Ric Grenell matter will have ended them. Grenell resigned from the Romney campaign as spokesman on national security issues when campaign aides thought the way to respond to homophobic attacks was essentially to try to push Grenell back in the closet–and out of the campaign door.

The upshot? The Romney campaign’s instinct is that being gay is a problem to handle and that placating the worst homophobes in the Republican base is more important than sticking up for its own officials.

There’s no doubt that Grenell was eminently qualified for the job. He served as spokesman for four U.N. ambassadors under the George W. Bush administration and was recommended to the campaign by former ambassador John Bolton, for whom the word “warmonger” may well have been coined.

The New York Times described Grenell as having “pristine Republican credentials.” And indeed Grenell was good at the type of back-alley knife-fighting that characterizes GOP politics. In his Twitter feed, he wondered if Newt Gingrich’s wife Callista can “snap on” her hair, suggested Hillary Clinton was begin to look like the decidedly unglamorous former secretary of state Madeline Albright, and said MSNBC host and out lesbian Rachel Maddow “should take a breath and put on a necklace.” (He didn’t offer to lend her one.) In short, Grenell is an asshole, so the irony is that, other than being gay, he’s the perfect Republican.

Formerly, Republicans didn’t believe in “special rights” to protect gay people from being fired. But the right wing of the party now believes that the Romney campaign should actively prevent gay people from being hired, a step backward even from the conservative George W. Bush administration, which appointed severa gay men to prominent posts. Bryan Fischer, the director of issues analysis for the American Family Association who earns his living making bat-shit crazy homophobic remarks, saw in Grenell’s hiring apostasy. Fischer tweeted: “If personnel is policy, his message to the pro-family community: drop dead.” (Some of you might think, from his lips to God’s ears.)

Of course, if personnel is policy, then hiring highly qualified people, gay and not-gay, might be a good thing.

Soon others started piling on. In a column in the National Review Online, Matthew Franck suggested that Grenell cared more about marriage equality than anything else (which begs the question of why Grenell didn’t chuck foreign policy to work on marriage) and that he would quickly “decamp from Romney to Obama” if Obama comes out for marriage equality. Because you know that we’re all single-issue voters.

So, now at least it’s more clear than ever: there is a heterosexuality litmus test within the Republican party, which has given up big-tent politics for revival-tent politics. There is no room for debate on gay issues, even if you’ve been a party loyalist with years of service.

That’s bad enough. What’s worse is how Romney’s campaign handled the whole episode. According to The Times, minutes before the Romney’s campaign first big foreign policy conference call with reporters, another Romney aide told Grenell he wasn’t to speak on the call but instead “lay low for now.” (The aide didn’t add, but perhaps should have, “in the closet.”) Grenell organized the call and indeed was hired for just this sort of press outreach. You can’t blame him for concluding that the Romney campaign was hanging him out to dry.

For Romney, this could have been the big moment when he would have shaken loose from all the nutburgers that have attached themselves to the party and that are draining its chances of success. Bill Clinton faced a similar choice in 1992, when hip-hop MC Sister Souljah was quoted as saying, “If Black people kill Black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?” Clinton criticized her, thereby signalling to moderate voters that he didn’t hold with more extreme elements in the Democratic party. This is still known among political junkies as the Sister Souljah moment.

But instead the Romney campaign chose to treat Grenell’s sexuality as the problem. In doing so, it showed that it will kowtow to the most extreme elements of the party base. It also handed those same elements a very clear victory. They know that Romney will do what they want him to do out of cowardice.

And that’s what a Romney White House might well look like. Well qualified people exiled solely because they are gay. The closet would regain its power.

To her credit, Jennifer Rubin, a blogger at the Washington Post and an unabashed conservative, staunchly defended Grenell. Rubin called the whole episode for what it was: “whether the mere presence of a gay person in a Republican campaign is a bridge too far.” Of course, Rubin immediately went for false equivalence, saying that “the left” was as bad as the right’s homophobes, by wondering how a gay man could work for Republicans.

Of course, after the Grenell affair, the only thing to wonder about is how anyone would think that’s an unfair question.

Photo by Gage Skidmore

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  • the other Greg

    Grenell himself was a weasel in his resignation statement by blaming an imaginary “hyperpartisan” situation. He implied falsely that the other party was somehow involved, when it was only his OWN party attacking him.

    In my regional, mainstream paper the comments from Republicans are predictable and fall into two categories:

    1) “Only the left cares whether anyone is gay. Republicans care about the economy and keeping America strong…” etc.

    2) “Good riddance – perverts don’t belong in the Republican Party” etc.

    I’m sure some of our GOProud types here will explain it all for us!

  • Cam

    The way to see that this is pretty indefensible is that in the few articles Queerty has run the GOProud and Log Cabin folks have not been in here trying to defend it. That speaks volumes.

    The fact is, the right wing don’t even want gays to exist or be able to have a job. They wanted him fired for being gay. That level of bigotry would be astounding if it wasn’t so expected from that group.

  • Pushbutton

    The author states that Grenell “would quickly ‘decamp from Romney to Obama’ if Obama comes out for marriage equality. Because you know that we’re all single-issue voters.”

    Um, yes, you all ARE single-issue voters. That’s the only political topic ever discussed on this site. If gay marriage wasn’t on the table, what would you be basing your vote on? Oh, that’s right—if there aren’t any gay-centric issues, then we vote for whoever’s got the hottest body. Got it.

  • AxelDC

    A man who fires people for being gay has no business being President. A man who fires someone for being gay because of outside pressure isn’t even a man.

  • the other Greg

    @Pushbutton: “That’s the only political topic ever discussed on this site.”

    Although personally I think Queerty may focus on marriage a bit too much, this site brings up plenty of other gay political topics such as ENDA and similar local legislation, DADT in the past (and talk from Republicans now of repealing it), anti-bullying legislation in locality after locality and state after state, hate crime laws (are they good or not, etc.), “don’t say gay” bills in the Southern states, gay history in Calif. schools and elsewhere, anti-gay laws in dozens of other countries (not just Dominica and Russia!), gay rights at the United Nations, etc. etc. etc. But maybe you’ve confused this site with the Advocate?

  • 1equalityUSA

    Pushbutton, Some of the wealthiest households are two income gay or lesbian households. If these idiotic Republicans acquiesced and saw merit in treating all Americans equally under the law, perhaps some of these very wealthy LGBT’ers would prefer the economics of this greedy, sleazy party. Republicans are so caught up in exploiting “Religulousness” that their wrists are now bound by bigots-fundies-fearfuls who are quickly going extinct. One more generation to go before these old gas-bags die off and those Americans, who are more inclusive and less hateful towards LGBT, will be (coerced) by the dragging-heels-Dems to vote for the more inclusive party. The party that is wise enough to uphold equality for all, even those considered unpopular by shameful, worldly, religions wrapped in political blankets, will be the winners. Secular, civic laws will be upheld and Religious-political factions will lose credibility. Republicans will be on the wrong side of history and all the rotten things they have said about our community will be available for instant recall for years and years, thanks to the internet. As for the filthy Catholic Church, any laws that they so foolishly and politically manipulated onto the books will be overturned. All of the money, spiritual capital, and integrity will slip away like sand. The last gasps of a dying monster, they forsake the Word to dabble in futility. Politics is their last vestige of power. What fools these mortals be.

  • taylor

    Maybe his sexuality played a part in his decision to back down, but does anyone else think the fact that he made SUPER FUCKING PATRONIZING sexist remarks towards a number of political women (on twitter, ugh) at a time when “The War on Women” is in the popular consciousness also played a major role? Like, seriously. That makes me question his intelligence. If you’re already on the outs with your whole party because they DON’T BELIEVE YOU DESERVE EQUAL RIGHTS AND/OR LIFE, maybe, just maybe, you should refrain from vile sexism or any other behavior that might further stigmatize you in their/the publics eyes.

  • Pushbutton

    @1equalityUSA: How poetic. But don’t blame anyone on the right when the left begins its socialistic decline and takes 75% of your paycheck (that’s if you actually have a job) so that the non-workers of the country can live just as well as those of us who do work. Democrats strongly believe in penalizing those who work (through taxation) and rewarding those who do not (through welfare programs), and they can scream and shout that it’s “fairness” all they want, but we all know it is not. No more than asking a valedictorian to redistribute his grade-point average to a failing student would be fair.

    @taylor: This “war on women” that you liberals are using to scare women into voting for Obama is both funny and despicable. How about a word or two on the REAL war on women in middle eastern countries, where they’re being murdered and mutilated and forced into marriages (but I suspect addressing that would offend your liberal sensibilities too much and wouldn’t fit your anti-American stance, which is too bad because the women who are truly suffering out there could use your help).

  • 1equalityUSA

    Taylor, Yes, Mr. Grenell is too immature for these responsibilities. I would have let him go for the twitter messages. Too big for his britches.

  • jeff4justice

    I don’t care. Obama = GWBs 3rd term on war, drug war, erosion of civil liberties, government secrecy, and environmental destruction. If you’re a shallow sing-issue voter and don’t mind any of that then yes Obama is great for you.

    Th3 2party system brings us poverty and war. It’s time to un-occupy the 2party system.

    There are better alternative party options.

    2012 Presidential Debate Of Alternative Parties

  • nineinchnail

    This idiot doesnt stand a chance in hell of becoming president so I wouldnt worry.

  • 1equalityUSA

    nineinchnail–thank you for relieving my burdened heart, if only for a moment.

  • Myrtie Viltz

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is excellent blog. A great read. I’ll certainly be back.

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