Openly Gay Romney Aide Resigns Amid Furor From Social Conservatives
Richard Grenell's time as Mitt Romney's foreign policy spokesman lasted less than a month. The fact that he's gay appears to be the reason it ended.
Richard Grenell, who had served as spokesperson for John Bolton during the time he was United Nations Ambassador under President Bush, has resigned as Mitt Romney’s foreign policy spokesperson, and there’s at least some speculation that the primary reason for his resignation was due to an uproar from leading social conservatives after his appointment:
Richard Grenell, the openly gay spokesman recently hired to sharpen the foreign policy message of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, has resigned in the wake of a full-court press by anti-gay conservatives.
In a statement obtained by Right Turn, Grenell says:
I have decided to resign from the Romney campaign as the Foreign Policy and National Security Spokesman. While I welcomed the challenge to confront President Obama’s foreign policy failures and weak leadership on the world stage, my ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign. I want to thank Governor Romney for his belief in me and my abilities and his clear message to me that being openly gay was a non-issue for him and his team.
According to sources familiar with the situation, Grenell decided to resign after being kept under wraps during a time when national security issues, including the president’s ad concerning Osama bin Laden, had emerged front and center in the campaign.
That comes from The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin, who seems to make it clear that it was the controversy over Grenell’s sexuality, combined with the fact that Grenell apparently felt like he was being pushed to the sidelines after only two weeks on the job, that led to the resignation. It’s worth noting that, when Grenell was first hired many on the left did make note of his combative nature on Twitter, and I noted here myself that he had apparently deleted many of his more controversial Tweets shortly after being hired.
However, the Twitter story didn’t really have legs and it certainly wasn’t generating much interest even on outlets like MSNBC. Grenell’s sexuality, however, was generating much controversy among the more vocal segment of the social conservative community. Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association said that the Romney campaign was telling pro-family groups to “Drop Dead.” Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council said that he feared that Grenell would spend his time lobbying Romney to support same-sex marriage. Gary Bauer called the appointment a slap in the face to the base. Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center said the appointment proved that Romney isn’t a conservative as part of Twitter rant filled with anti-gay invective. Over at National Review, Matthew Franck took issue with the position of his colleague Kevin Williamson, and argued that Grenell’s sexuality was a legitimate issue for conservatives to complain about:
Williamson is quite sure that it is harmless to hire an ardent advocate of same-sex marriage for a prominent place in a campaign pledged to defeat same-sex marriage, because the hireling’s brief runs to matters not directly related to the issue. If he thinks that the gay-rights agenda doesn’t have any bearing on American foreign policy, he’s not paying attention. If he thinks that influence doesn’t run up as well as it does down in the hierarchy of a campaign, that voters are not inclined, with some justice, to regard hiring decisions such as this as an indication of the seriousness of the candidate about such a subject, and that it doesn’t matter whether the campaign is seen to be unequivocal on an issue that moves many millions of voters, then he is not the keen observer of politics I took him for.
Kevin Williamson, meanwhile just posted this reaction to Grenell’s departure:
My congratulations to Matthew Franck et al. for having successfully chased Richard Grenell out of the Romney campaign, handing the Democrats a nice little example of Republicans’ elevating their sexual obsessions over foreign policy (for Pete’s sake). I do hope that Mr. Romney extends the appropriate gratitude for the manufactured controversy.
In an update to her post, Jennifer Rubin says that people on the Romney campaign and other Republicans tried to persuade Grenell to stay. Maybe that’s true, but one does have to wonder why we didn’t see him front and center over these past several days given that foreign policy has been the topic of the campaign ever since the Obama campaign released it’s bin Laden ad. As far as I know, he wasn’t on a single cable news broadcast on any of the networks even though he had been hired to be the campaigns chief spokesperson on this very topic. Was the Romney campaign already feeling the heat from social conservatives and keeping Grenell at a distance? Unless and until Grenelll comments further than he has above, we can really only speculated about that, but it does seem like a logical conclusion. And if it’s even remotely truly, it’s really pretty pathetic.
Andrew Sullivan comments:
If opposition to marriage equality is a litmus test for gay inclusion in the Romney campaign and administration, then there will be scarcely a single openly gay person willing to sign up to play any part in it. It has come to this. The GOP will have no gays within it unless they are prepared openly to oppose their own core rights and dignity. Romney has gone from promising to be more pro-gay in the Senate than Ted Kennedy than hanging a lone gay spokesman out to dry and pledging to write into the very constitution that gays are second class citizens.
If you’re gay, or your friend, son, daughter, brother, sister, aunt or uncle is gay, you just learned something about what the GOP now is. Do not forget it
I can’t disagree with this at all. In the end, the GOP is going to come to regret its position on gay rights and same-sex marriage. The only question left is how long it will be before they realize the mistake they made.
UPDATE (James Joyner): I’m not sure I’m buying this narrative. Yes, Grenell is gay. Yes, some right wingers were angry that a gay man was named Romney’s foreign policy spokesman. On the other hand, this man was openly gay when he served as John Bolton’s spokesman. While I’m no fan of Bolton, he’s a veritable superhero on the right. And there’s this from ABC:
But, in an interview with ABC News, a source familiar with Grenell’s departure from the Romney campaign disputed the “under wraps” suggestion.
This source said Grenell, whose hiring was first reported on April 19, had not yet started his duties as the campaign’s top national security spokesman and was in the process of moving from Los Angeles to Boston.
Tuesday would have been his first actual day on the job.
“He wasn’t under wraps; he wasn’t a spokesperson yet,” according to the individual with knowledge of Grenell’s hiring and resignation. “If he had wanted to, he would be a spokesman right now.”
Among those who called Grenell in recent days to try to persuade him not to quit: his former boss and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton; and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman. [emphasis added]
Let’s keep our powder dry on this one until we get something more definitive. It sure sounds like it was something other than the anti-gay backlash at work here.
Romney was born without cajones.
You cannot be Leader of the Free World if you do not have cajones.
Is this really just about Romney being a Mormon or were there no openly gay folks in the Bush II administration?
Romney could have had a Sister Souljah moment, moving to the center, showing some strength of character. He failed this test.
There was at least one. The same one, in fact: Ric Grenell was W’s Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy for the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
@Scott: More damningly, I’m pretty sure Romney never even knew this was a test.
What would make you think the GOP is going to regret anything or have the self-awareness to realize their past mistakes. As an example; have they shown any inclination to regret their post 1960s positions on civil and equal rights? And how long has it taken them to realize the mistakes they’ve made on those issues? Hasn’t happened yet and won’t happen in any of our lifetimes.
Even if this wasn’t a damning commentary on Romney’s lack of character…and it is…but if it wasnt…do winning campaigns make this many mistakes?
Who’s the lucky fellow to be Etch-a-Sketched in as adviser on furriners?
@Loviatar: The Republican Party pre-Southern Strategy was pro-civil rights and equal rights (at least a substantial part of it). That’s the party I joined a long time ago. But that party is long gone.
The Republicans created this base of 15th century neanderthals and now the lunatics have taken over the asylum.
Noted Republican homophobe and opinion-maker Bryan Fischer:
“… “I was kind of pleasantly surprised,” Fischer says of Grenell’s resignation, adding, “I think Governor Romney is going to be far more careful now….”
On top of this so-called Christian you have Norquist saying they just need someone to hold the pen…not an idea guy.
I guess leadership is important to Republicans.
Once you give 10-grand to the virulently anti-gay NOM you don’t get to straddle the fence anymore, you’ve declared yourself a prominent anti-gay-equality culture warrior:
Is there someone actually surprised by this? The GOP needs the bigot vote. It can’t win elections without the bigot vote. Bigots are a core constituency.
Am I saying all Republicans are bigots? No. They’re just willing to roll over for bigots.
The Republican Party used to have (what we now think of as) a libertarian wing, which is why for many years many gay people were Republican. What we’ve learned is that as long as gays were closeted this arrangement worked for the GOP. Those days are gone.
The GOP is now dominated by the very religious of all denominations and by social conservatives who pretend that equal rights for gay and lesbian people somehow diminishes freedom for all Americans.
The GOP is obviously hoping that there are enough male white voters to swing the 2012 election for Romney and to win the Senate.
This is why I cannot vote republican.
Clearly an embarrassment for the Romney team, but running through the names here, I’m struck by two people I’m particularly disappointed in:
1. Matthew Franck. Let’s be clear, Perkins, Bauer & Gainor, represent special interests; their job is to ask for the moon and if they sense anybody else is gaining advantage, nag about it in order to ask for more for their special interest. They shouldn’t be elevated to anything other than special interest. Franck is supposed to be offering political analysis and is not paid to promote a special interest and his analysis is crappy. Is it Franck’s position that nobody can serve on team Romney unless they agree 100% with all of his positions? Stoopid. Nobody agrees with everything in politics.
2. Richard Grinnell. For someone who used to work for Bolton, he sure showed a lack of ability to deal with assholes. He should have stayed in, particularly if it was his desire to make his sexual preference an issue.
Romney doesn’t agree with all of Romney’s positions. Doing so would require at least two dimensions beyond the familiar three.
Don’t be naive: Romney wanted him gone. If he didn’t he’d still be there.
@Ron Beasley: I’ve been conservative since the Goldwater days at least, and I can tell you the lunatics have always been in charge of the assylum. The difference now is that they have also gained majority control of the party as well.
At least Romney won’t have to keep talking about OBL.
So if Romney doesn’t have the ability to stand his ground against a rambunctious base…what’s he going to do when the 6 gazillionaires funding his superduperPAC marches into the Oval Office? Yes sir Mr. Koch….and how high would you like me to jump?
Until the campaign comes across with a clear explanation for why this departure didn’t happen because of pressure from the anti-gay crowd, I’ll have to take it as it appears on its face, James.
Remember, North Carolina is looming large.
There have been a few times when Romney could have had a Sister Souljah moment…he’s failed all of them…
Was that his desire? Is it now an issue to simply be open about what you are?
There’s no doubt about an anti-gay backlash.
Whether that’s his only reason for quitting? That we don’t know.
If Romney had wanted him to stay, he’d have had Grenell at his side, in public. Not sending sidechannels to tell him, “I support you, but only if I don’t have to actually do anything to support you.”
You guys are aware that this aide was moving from LA to Boston and was still settling down in his new home?
@Hey Norm: Josh Marshall made the same point:
That sounds about right. No standing by him with a public denunciation of the AFA, and sidelining him so as not to further rouse the bigots. Seems Grenell got the message and stepped down.
I don’t see any reason to keep our powder dry. Unless one believes that Grenell is lying, what is it about “personal issues” that is unclear? Grenell is drawing a straight line – albeit weak kneed.
I mean really… “sometimes comes from a presidential campaign.” !?! Here, let me fix that for you Mr. Grenell:
“…greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from
a presidential campaignRepublicans.”
There. That’s better.
Mr. Grenell. Dude. They don’t just hate what you are… They hate who you are.
I’ve never been able to understand why any homosexual person could be a Republican.
Why, was it just two days ago that Hey Norm, michael reynolds, Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker, and even Doug Mataconis were railing against the aforementioned Mr. Grenell?
Why, yes it was!
What an astonishing turn of events in just 48 short hours.
@Jenos Idanian: Yes Jenos, they were railing against him because he was a hard core neocon not because he was gay.
This was my remark:
Want to tell me how I was wrong?
@michael reynolds: So, being conservative and gay is like being a Nazi collaborator in your eyes?
Just so that we can avoid the specious Godwin’s Law reference by Jenos, being a gay Republican is like being black and supporting the Confederacy or a Catholic immigrant supporting the Know Nothings…
Very few things are like being a Nazi collaborator. The term ‘quisling’ has become more broadly defined as I’m sure you know.
To be gay and Republican is to be clueless, foolish and yes, a traitor to your own people. As has now been conclusively demonstrated. Again.
Do you fools actually think you can match wits with me? Communist insects.
I have a cape, made from a bath towel and a safety pin. It has a large “J” emblazoned upon it with a Sharpie pen. After a debate victory over a lib, I don my cape and run around my tiny apartment singing “Afternoon Delight”.
Believe you me, that cape sees a great deal of action.
Only liberal Democrats can have a Sister Souhan moment because Blacks are the most liberal votes in the U.S. and will automatically vote for Democrats no matter what actions are taken or words are said by Democrats.
The problem for the right and for Republicans is that no demographic group inside the Republican Party is as loyal as blacks are too Republicans.
Any more to the center for Republicans loses more votes than it gains. Alieniating a group that vote for you to pander to the most fickle voters in the U.S. is a losing game. That is why Democrats remain loyal to their core blocks and do not bother to appeal to moderates.
Did I rail against Grenell? Or is Jenos lying? Again?
If I did its warranted…the man is the most dishonest spokesman since Ari Fleischer.
Regardless…the issue is not really Grennell…it’s Republican homophobia…and a total lack of charachter on the part of Mr. Romney.
Then it makes sense for Republicans to not have any homosexuals in positions to affect policy. It makes sense for the Repulbicans to support policies that do not add to the political power of homosexuals.
Since being a homosexuals means that one has to be a liberal, then it makes sense for the conservative party to not have any homosexuals in the party.
As usual, you’re out of your fvcking mind.
@michael reynolds: I apologize. I’d assumed that a professional writer would choose his words carefully, and mean exactly what he said. But I forgot what happens when you assume…
So, let’s try again. Are you saying that gays owe their highest allegiance to their sexual orientation, that they cannot have any other principles they put higher than their sexuality, and that those who do not put the sexual aspect of their identity as the single most important, defining feature of who they are?
No wonder liberals get so upset when those they think they “own” (gays, blacks, women, etc.) go off the plantation. How dare they think for themselves and not remember they are the property of the left, lock, stock, and barrel.
So, does that mean that “my” side owns the straight white males, and we can set out to destroy those who dare be liberals? I’d really rather not, as I respect people’s rights to expression and association, but if that’s the rules of the game…
@Hey Norm: Shorter Norm: Grenell is a really really bad person, and I’m disgusted he was forced out.
Well, what’s the next population that Mitt Romney will be willing to throw under the train in the face of loud squawking on the far right?
Heck, if he can’t face up to a few self-proclaimed “leaders” of “the base”, how’s he going to stand up to Putin? Or even Sarkozky?
(Yet another reason why I couldn’t stand Palin. The woman got bent out of shape by an impolite joke by a freakin’ TV comedian. Bah.)
Yeah…Grenell, like you, is a lying sack.
Not all Republicans are homophobes, but if you are a homophobe you probably vote the Republican ticket blindly.
And Romney is a pu$$y who does not have the cajones it takes to be Commander-in-Chief.
I think that pretty much sums up this episode of “What’s Wrong With the GOP?”
Did you have a point to make?
Actually my only comment was more about the Republican Etch-a-Sketch phenomenon in general. Hardly railing against Grenell. So yeah…Jenos is a liar.
@grumpy realist: Well, what’s the next population that Mitt Romney will be willing to throw under the train…
Let’s see… his minister for 20 years, his grandmother, the guy who helped him finance his house…
What the hell are you on about? It’s really not that difficult:
If the core of political party, a party of which you claim to be a member, is deadset against you because of your sexual orientation, regardless of your fealty to the publically-proclaimed principles of the party, then it’s that core, the governing core of the party, that is saying that sexual orientation trumps everything else. That is saying a party member’s highest allegiance is to what that core considers the only proper sexual orientation. You could have a 100% ACA rating, but if you’re gay, forget it. For the Bryan Fischers of the GOP (and they’re ascendent now), you’re not a conservative at all. And if that’s the case, it can reasonably be wondered what you’re doing in a party that, in spite of everything else you may say or do, looks first and primarily to your sexual orientation as determinant of your political bona fides — and finds you severly wanting.
After this latest display of cowardice, the only thing that bothers me is that it is still possible that we could end up with this gutless weasel as our CiC.
Grenell is publically pro gay marriage. I don’t think Romney with his problems with the evangelicals because of his Mormon faith — and there are problems — could afford to have Grennell in a prominant position in his campaign, John Bolton’s superstar status notwithstanding.
@sam: For once, I’ll set aside the snideness and the snark and the oh–so-polite gentility and answer you perfectly candidly:
Because I am seeing a bunch of people who don’t understand and don’t want to understand conservatism explain what life is like for a gay conservative to a gay conservative.
There have been quite a few studies of late that show that conservatives are far better at understanding and articulating liberal positions (while not accepting or embracing them) than liberals are at doing the same to conservative positions. And this is the perfect case in point.
Here’s a guy who seems very intelligent who does not fit in with the liberal stereotypes and preconceptions. And instead of respecting his right to live his life as he sees fit, he’s called a “traitor” and mocked and derided by the side that boasts of its own tolerance and embracing of minorities. Well, how much more “minority” can you get than a gay conservative?
Feel free. Pick an issue. Pretty much any issue. I can present a fairer (and less snarky) presentation of the “liberal” side, including supporting arguments, than any of the leftists here can of the consevative side.
I’m not claiming any innate superiority. The theory behind that I most agreed with is that I’m surrounded by the liberal perspective. It’s the dominant media. On the other hand, liberals have to actively seek out conservative viewpoints — and not many do.
This site is a good example. It’s self-described as “conservative,” but it’s pretty much outside the mainstream of modern conservatism. It’s the kind of conservative that liberals like — it spends most of its energies attacking other conservatives, and only occasionally takes swipes at liberals. And when it does, the liberal readership lashes out, because their pets dared to scratch them. See David Frum, John McCain, David Brooks, et al.
Are you saying that gays owe their highest allegiance to their sexual orientation, that they cannot have any other principles they put higher than their sexuality, and that those who do not put the sexual aspect of their identity as the single most important, defining feature of who they are?
You’ve got it backwards, Jenos. It is Mr. Grenell’s Republican detractors that are putting his sexual persuasion as his single most important, defining feature of who he is.
If you haven’t already, check JJ’s update on this post. The real problem with Grenell is his association with John Bolton. People should be thankful he’s gone.
In the meantime, groups like the “Family” Research Council and the Media “Research” Center just showed the same colors they always have. No reason for surprise or even a response. They’re haters who don’t deserve the time of day.
Why don’t you address the point of my post? It’s the social conservatives who fail to respect his right to live his life as he sees fit, who are ready to drum him out of the party solely because of his sexual orientation. It’s the social conservatives who make his sexual orientation the issue. That was the subject of my post. Nobody that I know of on this side mocked and derided him because of his sexuality. That’s a wilful misreading of the comments. We have problems with his positions and some of the things he’s said. We do wonder, given the animus against gays on the part of the social conservative core of the GOP, what someone gay would be doing the GOP.
I’d be really interested to read these article. Thanks.
I saw a comment above to the effect that Republicans have no core constituency that votes as reliably Republican as Blacks do for Democrats (roughly 90%/10%).
The reason for this is that Republicans clearly, by their words and their policies, do not want any such constituency:
Women? Conservative republican legislature across the country are falling over themselves to pass legislation that restricts women’s reproductive healthcare choices.
Gay? Core Republican activists are at the forefront in efforts to deny gay men and women equal protection and equal rights.
And so on and so forth. There are only so many white male voters to go around.
James: “Let’s keep our powder dry on this one until we get something more definitive. It sure sounds like it was something other than the anti-gay backlash at work here.”
Oh, bull. The right had a fit over him being gay (not him being a misogynistic nasty on Twitter, please note), and he was gone. The fact that he hadn’t gotten his desk and phone set up doesn’t mean much.
There’s a lot of really homophobic black people out there that vote straight Democrat.
@michael reynolds: “Whether that’s his only reason for quitting? That we don’t know. ”
Yes, maybe him being thrown off of the building by the right wasn’t a cause of death; perhaps he was on the roof to commit suicide 🙂
Responding to you in the spirit of openness, I’d like to point out one thing on the entire “gayness as a primary issue.”
While the focus has recently been on the issue of marriage, the fact is that this question goes far beyond it. The fact is undeniable that there is a strong faction within the republican/conservative coalition, that believes that being gay is an immoral and intentional life choice.
And for these people, the gay issue is akin to abortion — there is not middle ground on it. It’s a fundamental moral wedge issue.
That means that recognition of gay rights in any form — not just marriage, but civil unions and legal benefits — is completely against their moral and legislative positions.
And to some degree this goes beyond abortion (which is about a specific procedure) to invalidating people in life-long relationships.
As you have often reminded us, it’s hard to understand why a black person would belong to the southern* democratic party in 1964** considering that ~94% of the party voted against the civil rights amendment (which, likewise, was a move to disenfranchise an entire class of people).
I think it’s more than fair to ask the same question about why a Gay person today would want to belong to a coalition that, in order to compete, accepts a block of people who believe that individual is not deserving of equal rights and needs to be “cured.”
* – Note that politics/views are regional. It makes far more sense that a Black person in the North would have been a democrat in 1964 as ~96% of Northern Dem’s voted in favor of the legislation. Note that some ~85% of Northern Republicans did as well. The split was far more North/South at the time than Dem/Republican.
** – While it is incredibly sad that ~94% of Southern Dems voted against Civil Rights, it should be noted that 100% of Southern Republicans voted against them as well. It’s not a particularly bight spot in the history of either party.
@sam: And since it’s an inborn part of who you are, like race and gender, you know there’s nothing you can do to please those people. Sure, you could lie about that part, but that leads to even more misery-the kind where even success in other areas isn’t satisfying. Plus you are put in the condition of working for the success of people who would make your life even more miserable with more power. It’s like a black person working for the success of segregationists, or a Jew working for anti-semites.
Correct, though to be fair this seems like a generational issue within the Black community. Unfortunately, there is also evidence to suggest that the generation of African Americans who are anti gay also tend to be the ones who vote more regularly.
But more broadly, the fact is that Democrats do not have to agree to take a generally anti gay stance (unless you consider support of civil unions over marriage fundamentally anti-gay) on the national level in order to maintain that part of their coalition.
@mattb: He’s probably talking about this book, The Righteous Mind. I watched an interview with the author on blogging heads tv.
@Stormy Dragon: The difference between homophobic Dems and Republicans is that the latter want to legislate discrimination and actively crusade against gayness. Homophobic Dems may feel a certain way, but are uninterested in doing more than simply expressing their opinion. The rule is more live and let live in minority communities. It wasn’t the black churches that sponsored Proposition 8, for instance.
Um, I think you’ve seriously misread those studies. Quite the opposite. Liberals tend to have the ability to keep and weigh conflicting pieces of information, conservatives tend to dismiss conflicting data. The latter isn’t all bad: it helps cut the chaff from the wheat. But you run the all-too-human risk of dismissing anything that disagrees with your current viewpoint.
At the risk of a thread jack, why not pick a conservative position that you think a liberal can’t understand, and let the folks here take a crack at it.
Generally speaking, I think both sides understand each other’s positions. It’s just that as soon as one side or the other isn’t willing to acknowledge and address the foundations of either argument that gets put forth and responds with either cliche or by addressing a strawman that everything breaks down.
Bullshit, the Crenshaw Christian Centre, one of the biggest (if not the biggest) black mega churches in the country, was one of the major supporters of Proposition 8. Black fundamentalist churches are just as homophobic and just as apt to back legislative punishment of homosexuality as their white fundamentalist counterparts.
It seems a generational issue in general. And unfortunately older people are far more likely to vote in general, and far more likely to vote based on outdated social views in specific.
I think the tell is in Grenell’s own resignation letter. “….[Romney’s] clear message to me that being openly gay was a non-issue for him and his team.”
To me. That’s the tell. There was not a single public statement that I’m aware of from the campaign or Mitt Romney himself of support once Tony Perkins and his pals cranked up the noise machine. Not one.
Sure, a private message of support as you hand in your resignation takes a bit of the sting out of an organized smear campaign, but it certainly isn’t Team Romney standing up for someone they tapped for a visible, public job.
Seems they can’t Etch-A-Scetch away the christian right just yet.
@Xerxes: While a major foreign policy flap is on full boil? The furniture hasn’t arrived so I can’t take make it on one single Sunday TeeVee show? Pfffft.
@Stormy Dragon: The Crenshaw church may have supported it, but it was the Mormons that funded it and provided the ground troops. It’s the conservative folks that are crusading for laws and such to turn back the clock, and it’s only the Republicans that are making it impossible for a Republican to have an openly gay foreign policy adviser. It’s the Repubilcans that are opening gay-conversion centers, the National Organization for Marriage, and such. And outside the churches (much neglected by people who are looking at black people-there’s nothing at all like that).
If Obama’s foreign policy adviser was gay, nobody would be agitating against him. Indeed, when Obama signed an anti-discrimination order for Federal workers, not a peep was found.
Part of the reason that homophobia is allowed to fester in the black community is that people like you just want to handwave it as “oh, they don’t really mean it”. This doesn’t require defending Republican homophobia, but it needs to be called out wherever it occurs. There were black churches that provided just as much money and ground support for Proposition 8 as the Mormon church did.
Here’s a guy walking toward a wood chipper while we’re saying, “Dude, look out!” He’s clueless. He actually seemed to think he could be gay and occupy a prominent position in the GOP. That degree of cluelessness does earn a certain amount of justified derision. In fact the cluelessness is so profound I think it’s reasonable to suspect that he knows he’s betraying gay people and human rights more generally.
Now he’s encountered the wood chipper and you want to blame us for saying, “Look out!”
@MBunge: As usual I’m a day late and a dollar short. But in answer to the question about GWBush admininistration figures who were gay: Ken Mehlman. Campaign chairman in ’04 and RNC chairman after the election. Now ‘out’ and has expressed his regret at his actions on behalf of the Republicans.
He was in many ways the “perfect” advisor for the GOP POTUS nominee: a neocon. A Bolton guy, for eff’s sake! But, bzzzt! Gay! No can do. Even the nastiness toward Dem women didn’t save him (my gut is that would get him extra points w/the base, but is trumped by the gay thing).
He will likely be replaced by a non-gay (or appropriated closested, I guess) advisor with equally repugnant foreign policy views.
this is utterly embarrasing for this country to still act this way. I was almost on the fence to vote for Romney but now I will reelect Obama. Still fiscally conservative due to being fortunate in the tech industry, but no money to the repubs on anything. Lame.
@mattb: The two articles I was recalling took some digging up, but it was an Ace of Spades essay and an article from The American. And the American article was, indeed, about the book The Righteous Mind, which Scott O. cited. Thanks, Scott.
And if you’re looking for an issue that has a fairly clear-cut left/right divide, how about abortion? That’s a great one for pushing buttons and generating a hell of a lot more heat than light.
@Rob in CT: He was nasty toward Callista Gingrich, too. She could be another factor in his resignation. He makes Newt happy at the same time he jollies his base.
Bad pronouns. The Romney campaign makes Newt happy …
Count me as unimpressed by your examples. The Ace of Spades essay is basically saying the same thing as you are, but since it is Ace on a day he isn’t profanely ranting, he says it more eruditely than you do.
The American article links to a study with strange questions on personal morality, not on political issues.
As for mattb’s challenge to have liberals take a crack at seeing if they understand the assumptions behind conservatives’ positions, and your choice of abortion, I’d say the following:
Conservatives oppose abortion because they believe, largely but not entirely for religious reasons, that life begins at conception and thus most acts of abortion kills the fetus without any cause, which should be considered murder. The only exception where may be cause for abortion is if otherwise the mother’s life is in danger, as you are killing one person to save another.
Would you care to try the opposite direction, and set forth the reasons why liberals generally support abortion?
It’s also, like gay rights, a fundamentally unresolvable issue.
The fact is that there is no real middle ground with abortion, other than the current position, which is anathema (primarily) to people on the right for moral/religious reasons. At the end of the day, when push comes to shove, you are either pro-abortion or anti-abortion, and nothing will shift you.
Now granted, there are nuanced pro-abortion positions — and that’s something worth debating.
But the entire pro/anti abortion thing is a dead issue. And as long as being anti-abortion is a litmus test for the Republican/Conservative party on a national level, the second question is problematic.
It will be interesting to see if the Romney campaign tries to bring in token gay somehow to quiet the furor over this. My guess is they won’t – clearly Romney does not have the backbone to stand up to the GOP base.
BTW, Jenos, you’d go along way to proving your thesis that “conservatives better observe issues” if you actually acknowledged the rational point that a lot of us are making as to why, at the national level, there is a rather large potential disconnect with being an openly gay republican/conservative.
@Moosebreath: A little shallow, but not too bad, Moose. Now, let me try:
The pro-choice side holds the autonomy of the individual over their own body as nigh-sacrosanct. If one cannot control one’s own body, then no other freedom really applies. In the case of abortion, there is a case of competing interests — the woman’s right to control her own body, versus the fetus’ right to exist. More specifically, the fetus’ right to exist wholly dependent on the woman, compelling her to not only tolerate it, but support it at her own expense (in many sense of the word).
The argument boils down to two points: one, does one individual have the right to demand that another individual support them entirely, even at the risk of their own health or life?
The second is even more fundamental: at what point does the embryo/fetus assume “humanity” and be able to lay claim to human rights?
The pro-choice argument balances on those two legs. The current standard is “fetal viability” — abortion is permitted up to the point where the fetus could survive outside the woman’s body. When Roe v. Wade came down, the Justices arbitrarily divided the typical pregnancy into three stages and set rules for each.
The “pro-choice” side is rather broad in their beliefs. Some support it only through the second trimester, when viability is presumed to occur; others support abortion right up until the moment of birth. The distinction seems to be where that balance is struck — for some, the rights of the woman are absolute; for others, it’s more of a sliding scale where the fetus gains more rights as it develops. In both cases, though, the right of the woman to control her own body is superior for at least the majority of the pregnancy.
And “abortion” has become shorthand for “reproductive freedom” — the belief that a woman cannot be truly free to exercise all the choices she wishes to in life unless she can control her own fertility. Unplanned pregnancies are major life-disrupting events, even if terminated fairly quickly; this kind of disruption limits the choices a woman might make in regards to her life. This does not apply to men. And the principle is clear: when there are such differences that can be adjusted by law, when “reasonable accomodations” can help assure more equality of opportunity when circumstances prevent it, then the law should step in. “Reproductive freedom” — access to birth control and abortion, among other aspects — help put men and women on a more equal footing, both in the workplace and in life in general.
A bit verbose, I admit, Moose, but how’d I do?
Ok, just read the Ace of Spades article… and there is no reference to a “study” within it. And after reading the American “review” of “The Righteous Mind” (along with the reviews at the WSJ, NYTs, Daily Beast, and having read the intro chapter), I think you haven’t supported your argument at all.
First of all, to the degree that “The Righteous Mind” says anything to your argument, it’s that of the six moral foundations to understanding positions that Haidt identifies (care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity), liberals and conservatives share roughly equal attention to the first three. Conservatives, he found, were far more aware/interested in the other three position (loyalty, authority and sanctity) than liberals. His broader point is that because Conservatives/Republicans are attentive to all six positions they are able to more effective message than liberals. That’s it. (Actually that isn’t it, but I need to read the whole book before I can comment on it fully. It sounds like it’s going to be a great read).
Back on point, the arguments that you put forward isn’t backed by a study. It’s Ace’s an Bigg’s personal theory — there’s no empirical evidence to support it (which is what a study is). At best, we can say that Biggs is a brief interpretation of Haidt’s findings (that said, based on what I read about Haidt’s book at the other sources and in his introduction, I suspect Biggs did not understand Haidt’s findings as presented — I’m happy to back up this claim).
The fact that you suggested that there were studies to back up your position is, well, problematic — in that you either don’t understand what a study is or did not read carefully enough to understand that in no way did either of these present empirical evidence to support their claims.
Either way, you don’t have the facts (so far) to back up what you wrote above. So I’d suggest holding off on using that line until you’ve got stronger tea.
@mattb: BTW, Jenos, you’d go along way to proving your thesis that “conservatives better observe issues” if you actually acknowledged the rational point that a lot of us are making as to why, at the national level, there is a rather large potential disconnect with being an openly gay republican/conservative.
A part of it is related to how black Republicans/conservatives are treated. There’s a level of ostracism from their group when they “come out” as right-wing, plus the backlash from the mainstream left for daring to go it solo. Remember how Condoleezza Rice was treated — I still remember the cartoon depicting her as “Prissy” from Gone With The Wind. Remember how Michael Steele and Herman Cain were treated. How about the treatment of Marco Rubio?
Or women — the treatment of Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, Nikki Haley. All three women rose to prominence on their own, without riding men’s coattails — but they’re routinely slammed and denounced while Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Arianna Huffington, Michelle Obama, and others are lauded.
I think of it as a certain level of Darwinism — “our” minorities are stronger than “yours” because “ours” have had to fight uphill all the way.
You’re partly right — “gay conservative” is practically an oxymoron. But “conservatives who are gay” — that’s a horse of a whole different color. (I’m thinking pink.) They don’t put their gayness as the single defining element of their character and beliefs, they don’t view everything through the “is this good for the gays” prism. They are more rounded individuals, with more concerns and issues than just the one. Grenell seems to be a case in point — he made no secret of his homosexuality, but it was nowhere near the focus of his political interests.
And while Doug and others did a good job documenting the push from the far right against him, there was also a lot of pressure from the left over his past combativeness — and using his gay status as a “wedge issue” to get the Romney campaign. Kind of like how it’s fun to remind people how Obama still officially opposes gay marriage.
In the end, Grenell was a major jerk online, and made a lot of enemies. His new job would have made him a spokesman on a major issue. In that job, you want your spokesman to focus on the issue. Instead, Grenell himself was becoming the issue, and that would have greatly impaired his effectiveness.
Oh, well. I think I agree with most of his positions (political, that is), and it’s too bad he had to give up the job. But every now and then, actions have consequences.
Moderator — I have a comment caught in the spam filter. Please release.
@Jenos Idanian:Pretty good. I think we can quibble on certain points, but in general a solid overview.
As far as:
Is there anything major that Moose left out?
And this still gets to a broader issue (I would argue) — as you note there are a number of pro-choice positions that can be held. Is there any real ability to have that nuance in an anti-abortion stance (we can leave pre/coital birth control out of the equation for the moment)?
The reason that this is important is that it has to do with the range of positions that someone on the national platform of a given party is able to hold. Granted, it would be difficult (if not impossible) for an Anti-Abortion advocate to win a Democratic nomination for president. That said, the presidential candidate can be for restrictions on abortion.
But on the other hand, is it possible for a Republican to get the nomination if they are pro-restricted-abortion? Note that Ace of Spades, in the article you linked to, noted that he knew Rudy G. could never be the presidential nominee because of his pro-restricted-abortion stance.
Nice diversion from the topic of the thread, by the way. That’s how it’s done, folks!
@Rob in CT: And I came BACK to the topic, Rob. That should score points even from the East German judges.
What this analysis misses are three things:
1. There are many female republicans who are not routinely attacked in the same way — see the Senators from Maine as two examples.
2. The idea that Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin in particular are being attacked for being women, versus for being, when it comes to wielding facts, demagogues. Your defense of them based on gender — rather than the content of their ideas — is problematic, because, at the end of the day, it means that all that matters is that they are women, versus what they actually say/think.
3. Further, in the case of Sarah Palin, we need to note that big role that gender played in her selection (and if you are going to deny this then we can’t have a mature conversation about it). It’s true, that at first glance, she has a great story. But the fact is “she” jumped to the top of the list because “she” was a “she” (and there more than enough evidence that has since come out to back this supposition up). So while I don’t defend attacking her based on gender, her launch onto the national stage is inexplicably bound up in her gender.
Beyond that, the idea that H. Clinton or M. Obama got to where they are because of who they married is… well… ignoring all the things that they have done as individuals either before or after they reached the spot where they are. It’s in it’s own way (along with the terrible “ours” are better than “yours” perspective) incredibly misogynistic. In particular it suggests that these women would not be successful without the men in their lives.
Put a different way, you’ve made a backwards pro-Obama argument. As how could M. Romney have ever achieved what he did without the huge benefits he initially received by being G. Romney’s son. By your Palin/Bachmann argument, Obama is far more of a self made man than Romney. So why are you so down on Obama?
Beyond that, your entire analysis of Conservatives who are Gay conveniently still sidesteps addressing the issue of the fact that they are part of a coalition that has made opposing gay rights a litmus test issue. I’m still interested in seeing how you reconcile the idea that a significant portion of you coalition doesn’t see you as an equal individual or someone who should — as a by product of your sexuality — occupy any position of power within the party, and that your very presence within the party is a corrupting influence.
You’re right. He does. But he doesn’t oppose same sex unions or the guaranteed extension of benefits to same sex partners. He also pushed for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Remind me again what the orthodox, litmus test Conservative position is on any of these issues. And what will it be as long as Religious Conservatives make up a major leg of the Republican/Conservative coalition.
Pretending that Obama’s lack of support for Gay Marriage = the Conservative Position is playing really loose with the facts.
Right, but at the time he was very much in the closet. And let me ask if anyone thinks he would have been RNC Chair if he had been out.
But, as to his combativeness as brought up by the left, should the Romney campaign be making decisions based on what the left thinks?
Isn’t that the type of throw the person under the bus thing that conservatives hate about Obama?
@mattb: My apologies; I’d forgotten that Ace’s hook was the Ferd Thompson campaign, not some report. I combined it with the discussions of “The Righteous Mind” when I first mentioned it here, and didn’t realize until I was looking for citations that Ace wrote his piece about a year before the book came out.
As far as Moose’s piece… one thing I think Moose overlooked was the impulse to “protect the most helpless” aspect of the argument. Protecting children is a fundamental human instinct, and if one sees a fetus as a child, then the urge to protect that child is overwhelming. In emergencies, the saying is “women and children first!” — remember the Titanic? Look at the deference pregnant women get from people — hell, even the “harassment” of how some people just touch their bellies is a form of reverence for the child within.
And if you’re pro-choice, yet more evidence of how the rights of women — such as pregnant women to not be touched — are trumped by the concerns of others for the fetus. Oh, well.
One of the more interesting contrasts is to bring up abortion vs. capital punishment. To many conservatives, the message is “kill the innocent, spare the guilty” and that is just insane to them.
OK, I’m going off topic here, but at least it seems to be going off the rails in a civilized fashion, for a change…
Come on now, that’s not even trying. If you have to include those clowns, it’s not a good list to be on.
Michael Steele: Really? I don’t recall the GOP being enamored with him as RNC Chair, and it’s not like he’s done anything else of note.
Herman Cain: Mr. 999 Himself, which is sad because that’s really his high point.
Michelle Bachman: Crazy. Completely bat-s##t crazy.
Sarah Palin: That certainly was an impressive half term as governor…
Are you actually trying to say that minorities and women in the GOP deserve special treatment? That we shouldn’t point out how incompetent and clueless they are?
That’s a fair point, though for many liberals this represents a huge disconnect — eg. Some of the people who use this as an anti-abortion rational tend to also be ardently against spending money for welfare and early childhood services.
And as far as these sorts of contradictions:
Likewise, the idea of “spare the innocent” line can be flipped in the opposite direction, given the overwhelming evidence that a subset of executed prisoners were, in fact, innocent of the crime that they were executed for.
Still this entire question of killing gets to the larger point about why this is a fundamentally unresolvable issue. In fact, I full expect we will still be arguing about abortion after the Republican/Conservative party eventually begrudgingly accepts Gay Marriage as the will of the vast majority of the country (in about two decades).
@mattb: Beyond that, the idea that H. Clinton or M. Obama got to where they are because of who they married is… well… ignoring all the things that they have done as individuals either before or after they reached the spot where they are. It’s in it’s own way (along with the terrible “ours” are better than “yours” perspective) incredibly misogynistic. In particular it suggests that these women would not be successful without the men in their lives.
With the exception of Hillary’s role in Watergate, I can plausibly attribute each woman’s accomplishments to their husbands’ rising political power. And in some, it’s incredibly easy — Mrs. Obama’s hospital job, for example. And that’s not my sexist (I save “misogynistic” for actual hatred of women) view, that’s how our society has tended to work.
And as far as Grenell’s combativeness and Romney letting the Obama campaign control its actions… there’s also the principle of not giving your opponent great big targets when you don’t need to. I suspect that the analysis was along the lines of “we have to pick our fights carefully, and the advantages Grenell brings aren’t worth the energy to get him.”
Instead of they, we should say “some” are. As there are many qualified and thoughtful women and minorities in the Republican party.
However, I think anyone would have a difficult time arguing that, at the moment, you could argue that the ratio of “qualified and thoughtful women and minorities” to “white men” are currently as balanced as they are in the Democratic/Liberal side. And that’s a bad thing for all of us, and for the Republicans in particular.
Put differently, if you really think that Herman Cain, Michael Steele, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman represent your best and brightest, then you have a REAL problem — a generational problem.
And I would say the same thing if these folks were considered to be the Democrat’s best and brightest.
@mattb: Oh, hell, dude, I wasn’t trying to solve the issue. I was just borrowing it to make my point. My thanks to you and Moose for cooperating; it was quite enjoyable.
@mattb: Put differently, if you really think that Herman Cain, Michael Steele, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman represent your best and brightest, then you have a REAL problem — a generational problem.
I’d put them up against pretty much any Democratic black or woman of similar prominence, yes. Without hesitation.
As far as her specific path, I understand what you are saying.
What I think this discounts is the successes she had before meeting her husband, including that Michelle started out as Obama’s boss. Would she be first lady without him? Obviously not, but to suggest that in some what she’s not qualified or deserving to take advantage of her position is, in my opinion, problematic.
My point was more that your writing seemed to suggest that these women could not have been successful on their own — or that all their success is because of their husbands. Which is why I brought up the case of Mitt Romney, which I note that you completely ignored.
Fair point on misogynist — that was an incorrect word choice. Apologies.
Fair, I’ll remind you of this the next time you bring up Obama throwing someone under the bus. 🙂
Ditto that. I’d like to see you continue in this vein of reasonableness. If I get restless, there’s always WWE.
I totally believe that you believe this. And this makes this something that we are incapable of having a discussion on.
While there are some high ranking women and minorities in the Democratic party that I have no use for or would never vote for — this claim is a step too far.
Of course, I don’t think that either Palin or Bachmann should even be mentioned in the same sentence as Snowe or Collins (who I both think are incredibly more qualified — and would even if they held more traditionally conservative positions).
Don’t forget we’re talking about the context of a party where several of the state organizations still, as a plank in their official platforms, assert the homosexuality should be a felony. Refusing to make common cause with someone who wants to forcibly drag you away and lock you in a metal cage is not “viewing everything through the ‘is this good for gays’ prism”.
Since 2+ hours later, my comment is still in the spam filter, I’ll try to re-create it.
The significant piece Jenos left out in his comment on liberals’ views on abortion is that abortion was in the era before Roe v. Wade often de jure illegal and de facto permitted. A rich girl who got knocked up and wanted an abortion travelled to a state or country where it was legal and got a safe abortion. A poor girl who got knocked up often went to an unsafe back-alley provider, risking health and even life. By making abortion legal, the conditions improved, making a positive change to the health of the pregnant woman.
It also lessened inequality, as a rich girl with easier access to an abortion had few consequences, while a poor one either risked life or sterility by having an abortion or had to leave school to raise a child with less ability to catch up later.
“Of course, I don’t think that either Palin or Bachmann should even be mentioned in the same sentence as Snowe or Collins (who I both think are incredibly more qualified — and would even if they held more traditionally conservative positions).”
Exactly. Compare the treatment of Bachmann with a conservative woman like Kay Bailey Hutchison or Elizabeth Dole — Bachmann is treated like a crazy person because she gives so much fodder for it.
Ah, I see now that you did. We cross-posted, it seems.
Anyway, you’re capable of being reasonable when you put your mind to it. Try it more often.
Some of the people who use this as an anti-abortion rational tend to also be ardently against spending money for welfare and early childhood services.
Exactly. For Republicans, life begins at conception and ends at birth. They couldn’t care less what happens to kids after they are born.
My opinion is that Romney could have showed some statesmanship and spoke clearly that this man stays on board, period. I am sure that Romney knew this man when he hired him. So much for loyalty and integrity. Who will be next and for what reason?
Apparently all this anti-gay furor among Republicans is, at least for some of them, really about white supremacy. I admit I did not see that coming.
…and here’s mantis to bring teh obnoxious to the discussion. I was wondering who’d do it; thanks for ending the uncertainty.