Mitt-3-PO seems not to understand that when you fail to stand behind a member of your team, especially when that team member belongs to a class of people you know is derided by the side your team represents, that team member is going to be pissed.
But Richard Grenell, the political strategist who helped organize the call and was specifically hired to oversee such communications, was conspicuously absent, or so everyone thought.
It turned out he was at home in Los Angeles, listening in, but stone silent and seething. A few minutes earlier, a senior Romney aide had delivered an unexpected directive, according to several people involved in the call.
“Ric,” said Alex Wong, a policy aide, “the campaign has requested that you not speak on this call.” Mr. Wong added, “It’s best to lay low for now.”
For Mr. Grenell, the message was clear: he had become radioactive.
The Romney campaign doesn’t get it:
The day after Mr. Grenell was hired, Bryan Fischer, a Romney critic with the American Family Association, told nearly 1,400 followers on Twitter: “If personnel is policy, his message to the pro-family community: drop dead.” The next day, the conservative Daily Caller published an online column that summed up the anger of the Christian right, linking Mr. Grenell’s hiring to the appointment of gay judges to the New Jersey Supreme Court.
As the critiques from conservatives intensified, Mr. Grenell pressed senior aides to allow him to speak about national security issues, arguing that the best way to soothe the ire over his appointment would be to let him do his job: defend his boss and take swipes at President Obama.
But Mr. Romney’s advisers balked at the idea of his taking a public role, saying that the best way to get beyond the controversy was for Mr. Grenell to lower his profile until it blew over. A big worry: that reporters would ask Mr. Grenell about his Twitter feed or sexuality, turning him rather than Mr. Romney’s foreign policy into the story.
Romney advisers attribute at least some of Mr. Grenell’s frustration to the inevitable complications of starting a new job within a large, competitive and rigid organization filled with big egos.
But the final straw, for Mr. Grenell, was the conference call on April 26. After being told not to speak, he felt deeply undermined, worrying it would erode his credibility with journalists who had expected to hear from him, friends said.
Several of them said they were baffled. They felt the storm had largely passed. “We were shocked,” one caller said. “We could not persuade him to stay.”
Several gay leaders said the campaign failed to grasp the message it had sent when it told him to lie low. “Clearly, the Romney campaign thought if they could put him in a box for a while it would go away,” said Christopher Barron, a founder of GOProud, a gay Republican group in Washington. “It is an unforced error on their part.”
Really? The Romney campaign was baffled as to why the man they hired as their foreign policy spokesperson was told not to speak during a major conference call about foreign policy out of fealty to religious nutbags like Bryan J. Fischer? Baffled?!
Look, as I’ve said previously, Grenell is a misogynist dick, and I don’t feel sorry for the guy. Grenell is gay and still chose to align himself with a party filled with people who hate him for who he is, and who kiss the ring of the most right-wing homophobic assholes.
Still, Romney hired him and Romney should have stuck by him. Romney should have let Grenell do his job and he should have told the likes of Bryan Fischer to eat his magic underpants. Also, Romney should have known that not letting Grenell do his job in the hopes that the controversy would blow over was never a tactic that was going to work. The right-wing haters don’t forget, and they would never have been cool with A Gay in their midst. The controversy never would have blown over.
Romney blew it.
This was a moment that Romney could have exploited to demonstrate, for the first time in his campaign (and probably his life) that he has the cojones to stand up for something and for someone — to stand up for what he believes in. This was a moment that could have demonstrated that Romney actually believes in something… anything. But instead, as expected, Mitt Romney took the easy way out.
Romney has proven yet again that he doesn’t have the courage it takes to stand up to the most right-wing promoters of hate speech. He couldn’t stand up to Rush Limbaugh, and he couldn’t stand up to Bryan Fischer. If Romney can’t stand up to the religious right and right-wing shock jocks, how is anyone supposed to believe that he can stand up to anyone or for anything?
The Mittastrophe continues.
ABL aka Angry Black Lady aka Imani Gandy is a recovering attorney with a burning love of fire and perfectly-constructed sentences. The “anger” portion of her moniker stems not from her displeasure at the hellscape that American politics has become, but rather is a symptom of the pituitary tumor which has been indefinitely detained in her brain since 2006. When she’s not pointing out that people are wrong on the Internet – or writing for Balloon Juice, The Grio, The Team Uterati Wiki Project, or RH Reality Check -- she likes long sits on the beach. Also, she thinks gravity is a real downer. You can follow her on Twitter at @AngryBlackLady.
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