As I blogged earlier today, in writing about the Grenell matter, the Huffington Post’s Jon Ward understood the delicate balance of the conservative coalition. Given that social conservatives, who represent a key part of the Republican base, remained suspect of the presumptive nominee, his “campaign had to tread carefully in defending its hiring of a man who was not only openly gay but who also had agitated publicly for Obama to reverse his opposition to gay marriage.”
This perhaps explains why the campaign was wary of having Grenell speak in a recent conference call on national security. They perhaps wanted to take a cautious (too cautious and counterproductive in my view) approach to rolling out Grenell, fearing they might otherwise antagonize social conservatives.
Yet, no matter what you do, certain social conservative leaders just won’t be satisfied. (A few, but not all, just have this need to feel aggrieved.) In this case, they decided to create an issue where there was none. The Romney team had tapped Grenell as a spokesman on foreign policy and national security matters, not to advise the candidate on social issues. And on such (national security) matters, Grenell had a record entirely in the mainstream of American conservatism.
To that end, a statement might not only have reassured Grenell, but also rank-and-file social conservatives (most, less intransigent than their leaders).
The campaign could have offered that they were delighted to have Grenell on board, given his experience and expertise in national security matters, but understood that the incoming spokesman and the candidate had differences on state recognition of same-sex marriage. “We welcome Republicans of all stripes to our team, even if we do not agree with them on all issues,” adding, “As Ronald Reagan said, ‘The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally — not a 20 percent traitor.‘”
Now, to be sure, this may not have satisfied certain heads of social conservative organizations. Some of these folks, like their counterparts on the far left, just won’t be satisfied until the world meets their expectations. So, it’s absurd to blame Romney for their expressions of frustration.
He perhaps could have done more to quell their dissatisfaction, but no matter what he did, he likely would have not have succeeded in silencing certain social conservatives.