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If Romney campaign thought Grenell Flap Had “Blown Over,”
Directive for foreign policy expert to remain silent makes no sense

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:34 pm - May 3, 2012.
Filed under: Post 9-11 America

Considering the sources of those who thought Richard Grenell had been “under wraps,” my skepticism have been warranted, but now more details have emerged naming the aide who asked that he not speak on a conference call on national security. This is most bizarre — and counterproductive — move. The best way to allay concerns about Grenell’s conservatism would be to have speak out on his area of expertise.

When you hear a gay man offering a conservative critique of a liberal president’s foreign policy failures, you’re not going to focus on his sexuality, but on that conservative critique.

One wonders especially why the campaign aide issued the directive, given, as Jon Ward pointed out yesterday in the Huffington Post that the Romney campaign thought the Grenell flap had “blown over“.  Indeed, one can perhaps attribute their failure to issue a statement indicating that the campaign was standing by them to that perception.  (Hopefully more on this anon.)

The campaign’s perception does indeed seen warranted.  Until I  had read that Grenell was stepping down, I — and a number of our readers who e-mailed me about the matter — had only heard about one social conservative (Bryan Fischer) criticizing the appointment. (When the story broke, we learned there were others.)  As one reader put it in the comments to my first post on the matter:

Until he resigned I’d never heard of this guy. I think I’m at least somewhat socially conservative and I would have thought that if there was a big enough stink about it to make anything happen, I would have heard of him before now.

Seems that primarily gay conservatives and social conservatives (and those who follow politics closely) were aware of the story.  It makes sense to think the story had “blown over.”

Why then would the campaign direct Grenell to remain silent on the conference call?

The only defense for such a directive would be that the campaign had not yet briefed him on the issues under consideration and wanted to make sure he was on message.  Still, getting him to speak out on this call would have helped shift the focus to where it should be:  from his sexuality to his foreign policy expertise.



  1. Exactly.

    The Romney campaign was in a quandary. They had no issues with Richard Grenell and they wanted his foreign policy expertise. But the evangelical and social conservative leaders (like Bryan Fischer et al) were furious. Romney knew he could not afford to piss off this Republican constituency, who are the most reliable & passionate Republican bloc of voters.

    So Richard Grenell was left in a position where he was technically part of the Romney campaign, but he was given the “silent treatment.” Not once did the Romney campaign defend Richard Grenell, prior to his resignation.

    Now social conservative leaders like Bryan Fischer are cheering, saying that homosexuals will never work in the Romney campaign or administration.

    The takeaway is this — Romney & his campaign have no problems with hiring someone who is gay, but you better be completely closeted. You better not be dating anyone of the same gender, you should be ready to attend social events with a date of the opposite gender, and you must support a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage. Like Ken Mehlman during the President George W. Bush years.

    Comment by James — May 3, 2012 @ 3:55 pm - May 3, 2012

  2. “It is amazing how fast our community can forget that it was Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) who resurrected DADT repeal in the 2010 lame duck session, and it was New York Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R) who fulfilled a promise to Log Cabin Republicans to allow a vote on marriage in the GOP-led chamber. If it is true – or even if Americans only perceive it to be true – that far right activists like American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer are powerful enough to force a good man out of a job he is the most qualified to fill, that will make it harder to move forward on the issues that matter to LGBT Americans.

    “We need Log Cabin Republicans to work for change within the party, and when one of us falls, we all suffer for it. Social conservative leaders know this, which is why they are crowing today – but their litmus test of what it takes to be a conservative is bad politics, and in the long term they are destined to lose. This is a story that the Romney campaign never wanted; the Romney team would much rather be talking about jobs and the economy. The campaign deserves more credit for hiring Ric even though they fumbled the execution, but now they will be under real pressure to prove that Mitt Romney is not antigay to an American voting public that is increasingly intolerant of discrimination.” – R. Clarke Cooper, head of Log Cabin Republicans, via press release.

    Comment by rusty — May 3, 2012 @ 4:19 pm - May 3, 2012

  3. No, James, I don’t think that’s the takeaway. I think the takeaway was that the Romney folk were too cautious in dealing with the social conservatives–and that is the subject of my next post.

    As to Ken Mehlman, I had long gotten a gay vibe from him, so decided to investigate in 2005 or 2006 when the subject of his (then-supposed) homosexuality came up. No gay conservative nor even those close to the White House (and the RNC) had any evidence he was gay.

    Indeed, when he came out, he pretty much made clear that he wasn’t dating anyone in the early 2000s, so there was no relationship for him to cover up.

    Oh, and one more thing, back in the late 1990s, when I lived in Northern Virginia, I took a date to a Republican party, introducing him to all as my boyfriend. And was of those “all” was the then-Lt. Governor of the Commonwealth.

    Please use the opportunity of this blog to get the perspectives and learn the experiences of real gay Republicans.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — May 3, 2012 @ 6:27 pm - May 3, 2012

  4. James, Romney folk knew about Rich long before they had the sit-down with him to discuss his appointment.

    The Romney campaign wasn’t able to find an effective way to muzzle the Socons nut jobs without creating a rift in the fragile vetting process that the RNC assimilation group was developing with the SoCons.

    Comment by rusty — May 3, 2012 @ 6:47 pm - May 3, 2012

  5. […] If Romney campaign thought Grenell Flap Had “Blown Over,”Directive for foreign policy ex… […]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » Could Romney have quell social conservatives’ concerns about Grenell? — May 3, 2012 @ 6:56 pm - May 3, 2012

  6. rusty, your point is similar the one I make in my latest, though express much differently. 🙂

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — May 3, 2012 @ 7:01 pm - May 3, 2012

  7. Considering that Grenell was not yet on the payroll and invited to participate in the call, but kept quiet is rather humiliating; however, my feeling is the aide doesn’t quite know what to do with him (yet) so these things happen. It happened. To say it is because of his sexual orientation is a stretch of imagination.

    My feeling it is blown over for lack of evidence of sexual orientation discrimination, which is the point of these posts. Grenell could have stayed and if he is persistently kept underwraps as a paid employee and it would prove to be an embarrassement. Romney might still hire a token gay employee; however, I think he will learn that he gets no points if he botches it again. Such controversies doesn’t help gays in general and specifically conservatives, but gays did it to themselves (in my opinion).

    Comment by anon23532 — May 7, 2012 @ 11:09 am - May 7, 2012

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