Good Riddance To Richard Grennell

Unfortunately, there are some staffers who are willing to make a name for themselves at the expense of the candidates who hired them. Although I like the columns that Dick Morris does, he falls into that category. So does Ed Rollins, whom no candidate in his right mind should ever want to hire again. At first glance, Richard Grennell seems to come right out of that same mold.

The political world is buzzing over the sudden resignation of Richard Grenell, the former spokesman for John Bolton at the UN who had signed on to serve as foreign policy spokesman for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Grenell was scheduled to begin work Tuesday, May 1. Instead, he resigned before starting the job.

…Some publications on the left picked up on Rubin’s report and suggested that Grenell had been driven from his job by, among others, Bryan Fischer, a top official at the social conservative American Family Association. Fischer is perhaps best known for a series of inflammatory statements about gays, Muslims, Mormons, and others. Last October, Fischer was scheduled to speak after Romney at the Values Voter summit in Washington. Knowing Fischer’s record, and already concerned by anti-Mormon comments from another attendee, Robert Jeffress, Romney decided to use his speech to condemn Fischer, although not by name.

Now, some observers are suggesting that Fischer has so much influence inside the Romney campaign that he could drive Richard Grenell out of his new job. In fact, Fischer has no sway at all inside the Romney campaign, and he didn’t drive Grenell or anyone else out of a job at Romney headquarters. Neither did the other (relatively few) social conservatives who complained about the Grenell hire.

…Like a number of other new hires, officials say, Grenell was getting ready to move to Boston to begin work May 1. Romney officials fully anticipated he would begin his public role as spokesman then.

Instead, last weekend, officials say, Grenell got in touch with the campaign to say he would not take the job, after all. Some top Romney staffers, including Eric Fehrnstrom, one of Mitt Romney’s closest advisers, urged Grenell to reconsider. In all, several Romney aides encouraged Grenell to come to Boston and start work. Whatever the criticisms from social conservatives, officials say, they wanted Grenell on the job.

In a brief statement on his departure, Grenell said, “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.” Grenell thanked Romney for “his clear message to me that being openly gay was a non-issue for him and his team.”

Grenell certainly seemed to direct blame toward the social conservatives who criticized his appointment, although he didn’t say so directly. But it’s also possible that gay politics more generally played a role in recent events.

Grenell is a self-described “activist” for gay marriage.

Plainly, it was a huge mistake to hire Grennell in the first place. Sure he worked for John Bolton, which speaks well for him, but he’s a gay marriage fanatic who was known for shooting his mouth off on Twitter. Why would Romney, who says he believes marriage should be between one man and one woman, want to hire someone who sounds like Andrew Sullivan on gay marriage and spouts off on Twitter as his foreign policy spokesman in the first place? Grennell was an accident waiting to happen from the get-go.

Getting beyond that, it’s completely predictable that a few people would spout off about Romney hiring an openly gay foreign policy spokesman. The Romney campaign and Grennell both undoubtedly knew that; yet even though the Romney campaign has been supportive, now Grennell is pretending to be shocked that there are some people who were upset about his being hired. Please.

Know what this sounds like? It sounds like Richard Grennell decided he wanted to get his name in the news more than he wanted to work for Romney, so he bailed on the job. Now he can hold his head high when he does an interview at The Advocate, Meghan McCain might tweet something nice about him, and he can try to swing a few guest appearances on MSNBC so he can talk about how he had to quit the Romney campaign over gay marriage.

In the long run, this isn’t going to make any difference at all, but hopefully any future Republican campaigns that consider hiring Richard Grennell will consider his lack of professionalism and think twice.

PS: Some people are suggesting that Romney should have been out there publicly defending Grennell from people attacking him. Setting aside the fact that the attacks on Grennell were so insignificant that they were barely even noticeable (I didn’t even know who Bryan Fischer is until the last week or so), on what planet are candidates supposed to be publicly defending their own spokesmen because some minor attacks are hurting their feelings? Are we all in kindergarten now?

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