Conservatives force Grenell’s ouster

Updated
 

Just two weeks ago, the Romney campaign hired Richard Grenell to serve as the Republican’s spokesperson on foreign policy. And while this isn’t ordinarily a high-profile position, the decision proved to be problematic for a couple of reasons.

From the left, Grenell proved to be controversial because of a series of social-media messages that targeted women in politics and media with sexist language. From the right, Grenell was criticized for being gay, which some religious right activists found outrageous because, well, they just don’t like gay people.

Today, Jennifer Rubin reports that Grenell has been “hounded from the Romney campaign by anti-gay conservatives,” just two weeks after joining Team Romney.

Pieces in two conservative publications, the National Review and Daily Caller, reflected the uproar by some social conservatives over the appointment. […]

The ongoing pressure from social conservatives over his appointment and the reluctance of the Romney campaign to send Grenell out as a spokesman while controversy swirled left Grenell essentially with no job.

The larger significance of this is what it tells us about Romney’s relative weakness in the face of pressure from his base. The former governor hired a qualified former Bush administration official; the right said gay people are bad people; so Romney quickly accepted his own staffer’s resignation, despite the fact that the aide had done nothing wrong on the job. Romney was comfortable with Grenell’s misogynistic tweets before getting the job, but uncomfortable with anti-gay animus from the right after Grenell was already on the job.

If Romney had more courage, he would have stood by his staffer, and told the religious right to get over it. But since that backbone doesn’t exist, and Romney’s afraid social conservatives’ hatred of the president won’t be enough on Election Day, Grenell gets to experience firsthand Romney’s fondness for firing people who provide services for him.

For more on Grenell’s background, here’s a segment we aired after he got the job.

Update: Romney aides have since told Rubin that the campaign urged Grenell not to resign. This seems hard to believe – he was on the job for 10 days, during which time, as Rubin reported, the campaign “did not put Grenell out to comment on national security matters and did not use him on a press foreign policy conference call. Despite the controversy in new media and in conservative circles, there was no public statement of support for Grenell by the campaign and no supportive social conservatives were enlisted to calm the waters.”

As Ed Kilgore joked, “Whatever. It doesn’t much matter if Grenell was fired or was made so uncomfortable that he decided to ‘self-deport.’”

Richard Grenell and Mitt Romney

Conservatives force Grenell's ouster

Updated