For two men who really don’t like each other, Mitt Romney and Bryan Fischer sure seem to pop up together frequently. For those of you fortunate enough not to know Fischer, he’s a staffer at the ironically named American Family Association and one of the most vocal opponents of LGBT equality. He has regularly accused Romney of being insufficiently Christian and is a regular attacker of the Mormon church. Ever one to pander, however, Romney’s rightward march during the campaign saw the two share the stage at the even more ironically named Values Voters summit, a tea-drenched celebration of hatred and bigotry. Romney took a veiled swipe at Fischer from the podium, saying that decency and civility are values to celebrate and that “One of the speakers who will follow me today, has crossed that line.” This week their interaction cost a man his job.
Richard Grenell is a far-right spokesman for aggressive national security and foreign policy. He was appointed to a U.N. post by W, and has strong hawkish credentials. He is also gay. Not just gay, but a vocal supporter of marriage equality and someone who has criticized the Obama administration of not doing enough for gay rights. Romney tapped Grenell two weeks ago to be his spokesman for national security. Cue the outrage.
Faux christians and professional homophobes immediately lashed into the Romney campaign. How dare he allow this unrepentant homo to represent him on any issues?! Quoth the Fischer
Richard Grenell could not possibly have been the only qualified individual that Governor Romney could find … If it wasn’t about homosexuality, than why did so many gay rights groups celebrate the hire?
Cowering under pressure, a move that is a trademark of the campaign, Romney and his aides quickly stifled Grenell, keeping him off conference calls that he had organized and removing him from the anniversary discussions of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Frustrated, Grenell resigned rather than keep a job he wasn’t allowed to do. Romney (despite tepid protestations in the press) let him walk. Fischer is jubilant.
You cannot separate religious liberty from the issue of the homosexual agenda. In fact, the homosexual agenda represents the single greatest threat to religious liberty and association in America today…Governor Romney may not do the right thing out of political conviction, but he will do the right thing out of political expediency, and this I think would be an example…This is what I think is good for the pro-family community. I think it’s going to be a long time before he hires another homosexual activist in a prominent position in his campaign.
Wow. Hate much?
It’s hard to feel too sorry for Richard Grenell — although it is easy to pity him. His first act after being hired was to delete dozens of nasty and often misogynistic tweets including attacks on Hillary Clinton and Michele Obama that had nothing to do with policy. It’s also baffling that a strong supporter of marriage equality and gay rights would have anything to do with the Romney campaign. That’s some serious pathology and internalized oppression. Yes, while I pity Grenell, I find it difficult to feel any empathy for him. He is no different than the many women and other marginalized people that vote against their best interest.
Nevertheless, he took on a job for which he was qualified. Bryan Fischer and his slavering attack dogs made a simple element of his humanity a firing offense. And Mitt Romney capitulated. In fact an adviser to his campaign, showing Romneyesque courage and demanding anonymity, observed
It’s not that the campaign cared whether Ric Grenell was gay… But they didn’t want to confront the religious right.
What a sad, stupid story — and clear demonstration of the kind of leadership qualities Mitt Romney possesses.