Here's a quote from the past worth savoring:
"The Democrats didn't have any pro-life speakers. They stopped them from talking. We had everyone, from far-right to pro-choice. It's ludicrous to say the Republicans were intolerant, were filled with hate."
That's a quote from a 1995 Washington Post profile of young, Gingrich Republicans in Washington. (Alas, not online) It came from Ric Grenell, the scalp just garnered by the Christianist right. Here's a scene featuring Grenell watching the epic 1994 Republican take-over of the House:
"Everyone around me had chills," he explains. "It was such a validation of 'It's great to be a Republican.' " Young Republicans on the Hill today say this: Never before in their lives had they worked as hard as they did during the first 100 days of the 104th Congress. It seems possible they never will again. But they wear their exhaustion as a badge of honor.
"All the ideas we'd been talking about we had to act on now," says Grenell. When he talks about "we," he means hard-core, "in your face" Republicans. "I didn't know if they would end up working, but I felt everyone wanted to do the right thing."
And he walked the walk:
Grenell says Republicanism is no good if people subscribe to only half of the equation. The flip side to fiscal conservatism is private generosity. The Thousand Points of Light that President Bush called for is no small matter to him. He is a firm believer in Arianna Huffington's Center for Effective Compassion, a nascent group that hopes to point volunteers in the direction of charities it believes really work.
"Democrats believe government programs are the answer. Taxes get people off the hook and make them believe they've already made their contribution. A check won't solve the problems of a welfare mother," says Grenell. To that end he has helped two neighbors get jobs, one as a courier and the other at the YMCA. He has hired a neighborhood boy to walk his dog, Foster.
His background is almost a classic of Republican stereotypes:
Ric Grenell is the youngest of four children, three boys and a girl, who grew up in a Christian home. His parents worked as missionaries for the Church of God … Grenell comes from the blue-eyed, blond-haired, hard-working, all-American family. Picture perfect…
He dislikes those who can't handle the hard questions — cuts in the budget, abortion. If you won't toe the line, Grenell has a handy label for you. "Squish," he says of Christine Todd Whitman, the pro-choice Republican governor of New Jersey. This is not a compliment. To that end he is a partisan. A true believer.
What do Republicans call an openly gay man who has worked ferociously for their party for two decades, who called non-Gingrichites "squishes", who was a spokesman for John Bolton, whose school was a Christian college in Missouri, whose parents were Christian missionaries, and is and was, by all accounts, a true believer in conservative principles (which, in a sane GOP, would include marriage rights for gays)?
(Photo: Richard Grenell, a spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, briefs the media prior to a UN Security Council Consultation on the situation in Lebanon on August 4, 2006. John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, did not attend the consultation. By Stephen Hilger/Bloomberg via Getty Images)