Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Private Dick Work

Hmm.  This is a difficult story to take a stance on (my hilarious summary: a dick is forced to give up working for another dick because a bunch of other dicks don't like his opinions on dick.  You're welcome, comedy).  On the one hand, this guy shares my first name.  On the other, he is by all accounts a staggering arsehole.  On a third hand (appendage?  Am I still pretending to be a squid, I forget), the guy got hounded out of his job purely because he's gay.  And on another hand again (imagine I'm playing pattycake with an exact duplicate of myself.  No, actually, don't do that), dude knew he was signing on to work for a guy who was quite happy to let homophobes run rampant at his debates in the hopes it'd get him five more votes when it comes to November.

If it weren't for the human cost here (Grenell's awesome gittitude notwithstanding), I'd say I was quite happy about this development, if only because it proves once again (and there are still some people who haven't been paying attention) that the American right's problem with homosexuality is not some ridiculous nit-picking over the possible extrapolations of changing marriage law, it's that they don't like gays, full stop.  The only thing we don't yet know is which of the following three options is their favourite:

  1. No homosexual should be allowed to work for a politician conservatives wish to vote for;
  2. No homosexual should be allowed to work in any position where normal people might have to talk to them, and maybe even shake hands;
  3. No homosexual should be allowed to work.
(Actually, I'm pretty sure we already know it's gotten at least as far as number two, given the insane response to Ellen DeGeneres being hired to advertise something completely unrelated to sexuality.)
In all seriousness, though, the difficult part of this is working out exactly why Ric is gone.  The Romney campaign is saying it urged him to stay.  Now, this being Romney, we don't have to worry for a second about whether or not that is true, we need only wonder why he believed it was in his interest to say it.  That's what Glenn Greenwald's been asking today: if Romney actually did push Grenell into resigning - or at least put no effort into keeping him on - in order to appease the right, wouldn't claiming he wanted Grenell be counter-productive?

Well, maybe, but I don't think so.  I'm not sure why Romney was fool enough to hire an openly gay man for a high-profile job in the first place (Romney's been pandering to these rabid bigots for four years; he really didn't see this coming?) but assuming for the sake of argument it didn't occur to him that this would be such a big deal.  I mean, just because Republicans will boo a gay soldier whilst he's on tour, that doesn't mean they'll make a fuss about a foreign policy spokesman, right?

Working on that assumption, once the howls of disgusting rage were heard, it seems to me Romney had three choices.  He could fire Grenell, he could defend Grenell, or he could "let" Grenell resign.  There is absolutely no chance, none, that Romney would have taken option two, and indeed he didn't.  Romney would happily through people under the bus for far less (so, in fact, would Obama). The question can therefore be reduced to whether it would make more sense for Romney to fire Grenell, or just let him drift away.  I think the answer to this one is pretty easy as well.  We're in the first stages of Romney repositioning himself for the general, which will mean at least a small swing to the centre.  Like Tommy Carcetti before him, the man can read a poll. Opposition to gay marriage is below 50%.  How high is support for firing someone for no other reason than their sexuality liable to be?

In other words, it was a foregone conclusion that Romney would leave Grenell unshielded from the vicious and bigoted attacks he was subjected to, and that faced with a lack of support from up the chain, Grenell would feel compelled to quit.

The only thing that's difficult to immediately answer then is this: why Romney claim he asked Grenell to stay, rather than sticking with "No comment" or "We respect Grenell's choice to decide the direction of his own career etc."? Again, we can immediately dismiss the idea Romney said this out of any feelings of fondness or guilt (he might have done it for those reasons, but he'd never admit to it, and any doubt on that score is erased by the fact that Romney didn't express a desire to keep Grenell on until after he'd resigned). My take (and I know Greenwald disagrees) is that Romney thinks his right wing already has what it wants with Grenell gone, and he's looking to prevent any possible damage with centrist voters by claiming Grenell resigned against Romney's wishes.

Indeed, I'd swap the question around.  Even if Romney does regret Grenell resigning, what possible political advantage is there in saying so?  This is a man who has somehow managed to surprise political junkies with the degree he's prepared to lie.  A man who wasn't prepared to come out on either side of the Violence Against Women Act [1].  If he's chosen to engage in some seriously belated support for Grenell, there's something in it for him.

Update: apparently what happened was Grenell was told at the last minute to remain silent during an important conference call, on the very subject he was hired for, because too many conservatives were demanding he be fired.  In short, he was told not to do his job.  Romney is claiming surprise that this led Grenell to quit.

[1] Thirty one Republican senators, all men, voted against this in the end, because the bill was designed to protect women from domestic abuse even if they were illegal immigrants or lesbians. 


BigHead said...

Option 4: No homosexual should be allowed.

SpaceSquid said...

Good point.