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What the Ric Grenell Episode Tells Us About A Potential Romney Administration

May 3, 2012

If you’re unfamiliar with the recent story of Romney campaign adviser Richard Grenell, here’s the elevator version: The campaign hired Grenell as a foreign policy adviser, despite the fact that he’s openly gay. The usual suspects of social conservatives pitched a fit. The Romney campaign then basically put Grenell on ice and wouldn’t let him actually do his job. Finally, frustrated, Grenell resigned. (Also, he turned out to be a bit of a dick on Twitter.)

What we have here, folks, is a teachable moment about what we could expect from a Romney presidency. To put it mildly: sheer incompetence. Let’s break it down:

  • Romney, hounded by a problem with the women’s vote, hired a man who publicly posted sexist and catty tweets (he has since deleted over 800 of these)
  • Having made the decent decision that Grenell’s sexuality has nothing to do with his foreign policy chops, they hired the guy they thought best for the job – and then wouldn’t let him do that job
  • Even though the campaign reportedly urged Grenell to stay on, their plan was to simply keep him out of the spotlight, nice and quiet, until the whole thing eventually blew over

How might this translate to a Romney administration? It’s easy to imagine the selection of a poorly vetted nominee or staffer – one not only unpalatable to Democrats, but one that could rile the hard right extremists in the GOP. It would be a poor start to a presidential term of office.

Worse, though, is the idea that a President Romney would be so beholden to extremists in his own party that all kinds of decisions, not just staffing, would be subject to nutjob veto. Can you imagine a situation where a crucial meeting or negotiation is taking place and the best person the Romney team has is sidelined due to the bigoted objections of the likes of Bryan Fischer? I can, because it just happened. Why would anyone believe the same thing wouldn’t happen in a Romney White House?

Honestly. If Mitt Romney can’t openly stand up to Fischer – how can he be expected to stand up to anyone? World leaders, terrorists, John Boehner…?? What kind of leader consistently resorts to the “lay low & it’ll eventually blow over” school of governance?

But do stay tuned to this story. The most telling bit may be yet to come. Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association has been loudly braying about taking Grenell’s head. (Metaphorically speaking.) That’s bad. But this rhetoric?

“Mitt Romney has been forced to say, ‘Look, I overstepped my bounds here. I went outside the parameters here. I went off the reservation with this hire. The pro-family community has called me back to the table here. Called me back inside the borders of the reservation.’” (NYT)

If Romney stays with his “just ignore it and it’ll go away” approach and allows Fischer to get away with that,  it will tell us an awful lot about this strength as a leader.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2012 11:37 am

    I think you bring up a really good point about the bigger picture of general staffing. We have seen how bad staffing by a president can really translate into bad policies for the rest of us and I think campaign staffing gets a little overlooked in that respect. Presidents have a lot of positions to staff and mistakes will be made but we’ve seen some administrations make far more mistakes than others and it has a lot to do with who they put around them initially.

    • May 3, 2012 1:05 pm

      Very good point … and the Veep pick is the first obvious example of this. Choosing Sarah Palin spoke volumes about McCain from a judgment perspective. If Romney swings for the fences or panders (Rubio, Ayotte) it will be Palin redux.

  2. May 3, 2012 10:40 am

    You come close to saying this but don’t quite get there. What about Romney’s loyalty? He hired Grenell knowing he was gay. Then some homophobic idiot starts screaming about it and Romney lets Grenell squirm under the bus tires.

    This incident speaks to more than just how right wing nutjobbery will influence Romney’s decisions. It goes to the fundamental common decency of loyalty to staff,

    • May 3, 2012 10:50 am

      LOL – I wouldn’t think that even needs to be said. We’re talking about Mitt Romney, after all. He’s made a career of taking over companies and firing thousands of workers. Common decency? The thought never occurred to me. 😉


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