Commentary Magazine


Topic: Richard Grenell

L’Affaire Grenell

This afternoon, a frenzy erupted when the incoming Romney campaign spokesman on foreign affairs, Richard Grenell, quit before he started. Grenell is openly gay, and a fierce advocate for his views on marriage. The Romney campaign claims it all but begged him not to quit, but Grenell was evidently rattled by attacks from the Right on his fitness for his post.

Among those attacking him was Matthew Franck of the Witherspoon Institute. Franck published his views on National Review Online, and they are nothing short of appalling. Franck says Grenell’s being gay should not disqualify him from working for Romney, nor should his support for same-sex marriage. But he reveals his disingenuousness when he writes this: “Grenell has made a particular crusade of the marriage issue, with a kind of unhinged devotion that suggests a man with questionable judgment. And when the Obama State Department is already moving to elevate the gay-rights agenda to a higher plane than religious freedom in the foreign policy of the United States, it is reasonable to wonder whether Grenell, after taking such a prominent place in the Romney campaign’s foreign-policy shop, would be in line for an influential State posting where he could pursue his passion for that same agenda.”

Actually, it is not at all reasonable.

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This afternoon, a frenzy erupted when the incoming Romney campaign spokesman on foreign affairs, Richard Grenell, quit before he started. Grenell is openly gay, and a fierce advocate for his views on marriage. The Romney campaign claims it all but begged him not to quit, but Grenell was evidently rattled by attacks from the Right on his fitness for his post.

Among those attacking him was Matthew Franck of the Witherspoon Institute. Franck published his views on National Review Online, and they are nothing short of appalling. Franck says Grenell’s being gay should not disqualify him from working for Romney, nor should his support for same-sex marriage. But he reveals his disingenuousness when he writes this: “Grenell has made a particular crusade of the marriage issue, with a kind of unhinged devotion that suggests a man with questionable judgment. And when the Obama State Department is already moving to elevate the gay-rights agenda to a higher plane than religious freedom in the foreign policy of the United States, it is reasonable to wonder whether Grenell, after taking such a prominent place in the Romney campaign’s foreign-policy shop, would be in line for an influential State posting where he could pursue his passion for that same agenda.”

Actually, it is not at all reasonable.

Put aside the preposterous non sequitur of Obama’s privileging gay rights over religious freedom, which has nothing to do with what Romney would do in office. Grenell might be in line for such a State Department posting or he might not. It is conceivable such a posting would somehow touch on gay issues, but it might not. The election is not for months. Romney has to win before there are posts to be filled. And assuming Romney won, Grenell’s views on any subject in the fantasy post Franck imagines would be secondary to the policy of the United States government Grenell would be tasked with carrying out. That is true of any political appointee in the president’s service.

To suggest Grenell would do otherwise is to do him—a man Franck does not know—an incredible disservice, and suggests bad faith on Franck’s part, not on Grenell’s. Franck does not wish a gay activist to serve in the Romney campaign or the U.S. government. Others like him don’t either. That is the true purpose of his opposition, and such disingenuousness should be called out and opposed.

I don’t know what kind of spokesman Grenell would have made for Romney—he got into immediate trouble for deleting hundreds of tweets over the past few years featuring intemperate though often witty remarks about liberals and Leftists, and evidently got a lot of reporters angry during his tenure as a press guy at the U.S. mission to the United Nations. But he wasn’t my hire, he was the Romney campaign’s, and they liked what they heard. I’m sure they checked with Grenell’s former boss, my friend John Bolton, whose conservative bona fides is irreproachable.

People are suggesting this will be bad for Romney because it will hurt him with the gay community. But the professional gay-rights movement and its leadership will already come after Romney in relation to his Mormon beliefs and the church’s role in the passage of California’s Proposition 8, which forbade gay marriage in the Golden State before a court overturned it. Those folks do not constitute a constituency that would ever support Romney.

The question is whether it will hurt Romney with others. Since it seems clear the Romney campaign did not push Grenell out but rather that Grenell decided he didn’t need the grief he was getting from Franck and others, it will be hard to charge the candidate with bigotry in this specific case. I imagine the same issues that will motivate people to vote for Romney rather than for Obama will be in play for homosexuals as well.

As for Franck and whoever else may have led Grenell to throw in the towel, they have perversely made it less likely they will be heard with favor by those who are working hard to oust the administration that Franck rightly says has been so hostile to religious freedom issues—an ouster Franck and his colleagues have made a tiny bit more difficult with their shenanigans, and shame on them for it.

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Romney Spokesman Resigns

Mitt Romney’s national security spokesman Richard Grenell, who has been attacked by some social conservatives because he is openly gay, has resigned. Jen Rubin has Grenell’s statement:

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.

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Mitt Romney’s national security spokesman Richard Grenell, who has been attacked by some social conservatives because he is openly gay, has resigned. Jen Rubin has Grenell’s statement:

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.

There is not much to say about this, other than it’s a shame. Grenell was also criticized by the left for candid comments he made awhile back on Twitter, but his statement seems to imply that the uproar about his personal life was the main reason for his resignation.

If Grenell actually felt the controversy made it difficult for Romney to respond to Obama on national security, then it’s hard to fault the campaign. If there was ever a time that Romney needed a clear message on national security, it’s now. Unfortunately, this will probably be seen as a victory by the vocal group of fringe figures who protested Grenell’s hire, and sadly, it might actually end up encouraging them.

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Social Conservative Smacked Down on CNN

A rare kudos to CNN’s Kyra Phillips, who highlights another absurdity in the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer’s recent attack on Mitt Romney’s national security spokesman. Any true conservative must be a fan of Ambassador John Bolton, right? And, as we know, Fischer has claimed no real conservative could possibly hire a gay spokesman, right? Well, as it turns out:

PHILLIPS: Did you think John Bolton did a good job when he was U.S. ambassador to the U.N.? [...]

FISCHER: He did a great job.

PHILLIPS: Okay. Grenell was his spokesperson….Bryan, I just thought that was interesting, you thought Bolton did a great job, and Grenell was his spokesperson.

FISCHER: Well, the point here is that personnel is policy. Everybody in D.C. says that. Personnel is policy. When Governor Romney picks somebody who is an activist homosexual and puts him in a prominent position, he’s sending a shout out, it seems to me, to the homosexual lobby.

Unfortunately Phillips’ logical fallacy didn’t cause Fischer to short-circuit like a robot, but you can watch him attempt to defend his untenable argument here.

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A rare kudos to CNN’s Kyra Phillips, who highlights another absurdity in the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer’s recent attack on Mitt Romney’s national security spokesman. Any true conservative must be a fan of Ambassador John Bolton, right? And, as we know, Fischer has claimed no real conservative could possibly hire a gay spokesman, right? Well, as it turns out:

PHILLIPS: Did you think John Bolton did a good job when he was U.S. ambassador to the U.N.? [...]

FISCHER: He did a great job.

PHILLIPS: Okay. Grenell was his spokesperson….Bryan, I just thought that was interesting, you thought Bolton did a great job, and Grenell was his spokesperson.

FISCHER: Well, the point here is that personnel is policy. Everybody in D.C. says that. Personnel is policy. When Governor Romney picks somebody who is an activist homosexual and puts him in a prominent position, he’s sending a shout out, it seems to me, to the homosexual lobby.

Unfortunately Phillips’ logical fallacy didn’t cause Fischer to short-circuit like a robot, but you can watch him attempt to defend his untenable argument here.

Fischer isn’t the only social conservative who has criticized Romney for hiring Richard Grenell, and it’s worth wondering why this didn’t bother anyone when Grenell was working for Bolton. Is it simply because Romney’s in a more prominent position, and Grenell’s personal life was never really in the news before? If that’s the case, maybe these critics should realize that their concerns aren’t grounded in reality.

It seems more likely that the attacks on Grenell are based on a still-lingering anti-Romney undercurrent in the conservative movement. Fischer has made his disapproval of Romney’s religion clear in the past, which may explain his oddly vocal attack on Romney’s hiring decision.

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Romney’s New Spokesman Under Attack

The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer seems like the type of person who enjoys the attention that comes with saying offensive and outrageously stupid things. He was able to milk plenty of that out of his swipe at Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith last fall, and now he’s back in the spotlight after writing a disgraceful column attacking Romney’s new national security spokesman, who is gay:

Gov. Mitt Romney stepped on a landmine by appointing Richard Grenell, an out, loud and proud homosexual, to be his spokesman on national security and foreign policy issues. …

Since, as the saying goes in D.C., personnel is policy, this means Gov. Romney has some ‘splaining to do. This clearly is a deliberate and intentional act on his part, since he was well aware of Mr. Grenell’s sexual proclivities and knew it would be problematic for social conservatives. It’s certainly not possible that there are no other potential spokesmen available, men who are experts in foreign policy and who at the same time honor the institution of natural marriage in their personal lives. …

If the Secret Service scandal teaches us one thing, it is this: a man’s private sexual conduct matters when we’re talking about public office.

Given the propensity for members of the homosexual community to engage in frequent and anonymous sexual encounters, the risk to national security of having a homosexual in a high-ranking position with access to secret information is obvious.

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The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer seems like the type of person who enjoys the attention that comes with saying offensive and outrageously stupid things. He was able to milk plenty of that out of his swipe at Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith last fall, and now he’s back in the spotlight after writing a disgraceful column attacking Romney’s new national security spokesman, who is gay:

Gov. Mitt Romney stepped on a landmine by appointing Richard Grenell, an out, loud and proud homosexual, to be his spokesman on national security and foreign policy issues. …

Since, as the saying goes in D.C., personnel is policy, this means Gov. Romney has some ‘splaining to do. This clearly is a deliberate and intentional act on his part, since he was well aware of Mr. Grenell’s sexual proclivities and knew it would be problematic for social conservatives. It’s certainly not possible that there are no other potential spokesmen available, men who are experts in foreign policy and who at the same time honor the institution of natural marriage in their personal lives. …

If the Secret Service scandal teaches us one thing, it is this: a man’s private sexual conduct matters when we’re talking about public office.

Given the propensity for members of the homosexual community to engage in frequent and anonymous sexual encounters, the risk to national security of having a homosexual in a high-ranking position with access to secret information is obvious.

It continues on like that for awhile. Fischer must be thrilled that his over-the-top grossness has landed him in the news once again, so it’s probably not worth paying him too much attention. Plus, Jen Rubin has already written a great takedown of his argument at Right Turn.

But I do hope that more conservatives come out in defense of Grenell. He seems like a strong addition to Romney’s team, with encouraging positions on human rights issues and Iran (based on a review of some of his recent columns). It is one thing to disagree with gay marriage, as both President Obama and Mitt Romney do. Bigotry and support for discriminatory hiring practices are a completely different story, and should be condemned by conservatives.

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