[Re-posted from earlier today]
Some actual reporting from yours truly. It seems clear from sources close to Grenell and reporters on the foreign policy beat that his turning point came last week. He’d been part of organizing a conference call to respond to Vice President Biden’s Romney’s national security spokesman, was not introduced by name as part of the Romney team at the beginning of the call, and his voice completely absent from the conversation. Some even called and questioned him afterwards as to why he was absent. He wasn’t absent. He was simply muzzled. For a job where you are supposed to maintain good relations with reporters, being silenced on a key conference call on your area of expertise is pretty damaging. Especially when you helped set it up. Sources close to Grenell say that he was specifically told by those high up in the Romney campaign to stay silent on the call, even while he was on it. And this was not the only time he had been instructed to shut up. Their response to the far right fooferaw was simply to go silent, to keep Grenell off-stage and mute, and to wait till the storm passed. But the storm was not likely to pass if no one in the Romney camp was prepared to back Grenell up. Hence his dilemma. The obvious solution was simply to get Grenell out there doling out the neocon red meat – which would have immediately changed the subject and helped dispel base skepticism. Instead the terrified Romneyites shut him up without any actual plan for when he might subsequently be able to do his job. To my mind, it’s a mark of his integrity that he decided to quit rather than be put in this absurd situation. And it’s a mark of Romney’s fundamental weakness within his own party that he could not back his spokesman against the Bryan Fischers and Matthew Francks. I’m with GOProud’s Jimmy LaSalvia on this. A couple other thoughts. How many gay conservatives oppose marriage equality – now, apparently, a litmus test (though it wasn’t for Cheney)? I cannot think of any. Why? Because marriage equality started out as a conservative revolt within the gay community. Gay conservatives and Republicans helped pioneer gay marriage as an issue – to some serious pushback from the gay left at the start. So if all gay Republicans who support marriage equality are banned even from speaking on other topics entirely (like Iran or Afghanistan, where Grenell is a fire-breather), who’s left? The answer, I’m afraid, is no one. Grenell was prepared to stay silent on gay issues entirely and do his job. But that wasn’t enough. Romney’s anti-gay agenda is therefore deeper and more extreme than Bush’s.
I might add that the private conversation among many Republicans in this town is that this was unjust and unfair. The Romneyites are correct when they say they tried to talk him out of it. But they kept and keep their views quiet. The gay-inclusive elements in the elites simply do not have the balls to tackle the religious right. And this is particularly true of Romney, as this case now proves. The Christianists gave Bush a pass on social issues because of his born-again Christianity. They trust Mormon Romney not an inch. And this week demonstrates without any doubt that Romney will therefore not be able to deviate from their wishes an iota. He has no room to maneuver. The notion that he could be a moderate on social issues in office is, alas, a pipe dream.
Remember: Grenell was told to be silent solely because he was gay. He was accused in National Review of being a potential fifth columnist for Barack Obama, simply because of his support for marriage equality, which he was never going to speak in public on anyway. His job was to speak on national security, a job for which he was very well prepared and very, very neoconservative.
But the bigots won.