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Now Mitt Romney starts paying the price for Jennifer Rubin

Now Mitt Romney starts paying the price for Jennifer Rubin

Jennifer Rubin, the “right” blogger at The Washington Post, gained fame throughout the primaries by obsessively skewering each not-Romney who rose in the polls, even not-Romneys like Rick Santorum she had praised when convenient to use against another not-Romney.

Because of her platform at WaPo and her designation as WaPo’s “right” blogger, Rubin got a lot of attention, and became part of the story in a way which mostly helped Romney even if it damaged the party.  The Romney campaign was happy to use Rubin, as she often bragged about speaking with this or that source at the campaign, and Romney even granted her an “exclusive” interview.

But she can’t seem to stop whatever holy war she has going on, and it’s coming back to bite the Romney campaign big time because Rubin ran a screaming headline yesterday over the resignation of Romney adviser Richard Grenell, EXCLUSIVE: Richard Grenell hounded from Romney campaign by anti-gay conservatives.

Yet there was no proof in Rubin’s post that Grenell’s resignation was caused by “anti-gay conservatives.”  Rubin simply states there was criticism of Grenell from social conservatives and that he resigned, but leaps to a conclusion that one caused the other.

In fact, Grenell had gained the most controversy because of caustic tweets he sent out about other Republicans during the primaries, which he then deleted.  As reported on April 20 by Politico:

Mitt Romney’s new foreign policy spokesman, Richard Grenell, writes in with this response to my posts (here and here) on his habit of going after the Gingriches and assorted other prominent Americans on Twitter:

my tweets were written to be tongue-in-cheek and humorous but I can now see how they can also be hurtful. I didn’t mean them that way and will remove them from twitter. I apologize for any hurt they caused.

Think Progress attacked Grenell based on his tweets, New Romney Spokesman Used Twitter For Sexist Attacks:

Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s new foreign policy spokesperson Richard Grenell has an odd penchant for targeting the wives of male politicians and women in general on Twitter

Hiring Richard Grenell would be like the Romney campaign hiring Rubin; the hiree had made so many enemies through the poison pen that the hiree was more of a liability than a help.  It was a bad hire.

Nonetheless, because Rubin wrote it, the anti-Romney media and blogosphere has gone wild with the meme of Grenell being the victim of gay bashing with Rubin as the proof.

Byron York has a more level-headed analysis:

Now, some observers are suggesting that [Bryan] Fischer [of the American Family Association] 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….

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.  In March, he sharply criticized Jonathan Capehart, an opinion writer for the Washington Post who is gay, for attending a state dinner at the Obama White House but not using the opportunity to confront President Obama over Obama’s opposition to gay marriage.  Writing in the Washington Blade, a gay newspaper, Grenell accused Capehart of selling out to Democratic leaders like Obama who don’t support gay marriage, while bashing Republicans, even those who have more liberal positions on gay rights.

If Grenell could be so critical of Capehart, who does not work for the administration, for failing to hold Obama’s opposition to gay marriage against him, then why did Grenell accept a position with Romney, who has expressed his own opposition to gay marriage in far stronger terms than Obama?  (When Grenell took the job, Capehart shot back that Grenell had “chosen power over principle on marriage equality.”) The answer isn’t clear, but the circumstances of Grenell’s early departure from Team Romney and his own strongly-expressed opinions suggest that gay politics, perhaps not just the opinions of social conservatives, might have played some role in the whole affair.  But if Romney’s aides are to be believed, it wasn’t on their end.

Erick Erickson, with whom Rubin has a negative history, makes similar points:

What’s so hilarious about the Jennifer Rubin post on this business is she and others cite social conservatives as the bad guy and, more particularly, the left has fingered Bryan Fischer. a guy most people haven’t heard of and who the Romney campaign does not exactly adore or listen to.  It’s worth pointing out that the left attacked Romney for hiring Grenell in the first place because they viewed him as a misogynist before he was a gay rights martyr.

What Rubin does not mention. and the reason the left does not really like him, is that Richard Grenell had deleted more than 700 tweets of his that offended a host of people.  He’d targeted the Gingrichs, Hillary Clinton, and a bunch of others.  As a guy who knows a thing or two about what you probably shouldn’t tweet, even I have never deleted 700 tweets, let alone deleted tweets to get a job.  But Grenell did….

Richard Grenell is a pompous jerk who deleted more than 700 tweets to take a job.  The Romney camp probably should have exercised better judgment up front.  The fact that Grenell and Rubin want to use this opportunity to bash social conservatives and push the narrative that the candidate they support is being held hostage by social conservatives says more about them than social conservatives.

It was a bad hire in which twitter-deleting would have dominated the news cycles for months.  It also was a misplaced selection of someone for one position (foreign policy) who was most known for his advocacy and argumentative writings unrelated to foreign policy, another news cycle distraction.

Bad ending.  But not the result of gay bashing.

Yet because Jennifer Rubin put one and one together and got three, the Romney campaign now is smeared with gay bashing.

Update:  This report at National Journal (h/t Paul Mirengoff) rings true to me:

A source close to the Romney campaign denied that Grenell resigned because of complaints about his sexual orientation. Rather, the source said, Grenell had become a story himself, which a spokesman should never do.


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And we conservatives are supposed to be so excited about Mitt?

    joscefi in reply to theresa1. | May 2, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    When, or if, Mitt Romney becomes the GOP candidate, he’ll be the ‘Ein Briera’ candidate, excitement is optional.

jimzinsocal | May 2, 2012 at 8:57 am

Over in the Tip Line I linked to a fair piece from Byron York. Having read that it gave me the feeling that perhaps the guy was sort of upping the job ante. He hadnt even started with Romney and here we are with all the media attention…which we know helps the guy in the job market (somewhat)

At the same time we see…and I agree..Paul at Powerline:

At this point, we don’t know the full story. But what we do know seems to reflect poorly on the Romney campaign. If Grenell wasn’t someone the campaign could stand behind, it shouldn’t have selected him. Once it selected him, unless significant new information came to light ( Politico cites some nasty twitter commentary Grenell has indulged in, but the campaign knew or should have known about this), the campaign should have stood strongly behind him. And if the campaign did stand strongly behind him but Grenell quit anyway, then Grenell was a poor choice all along.

    ThomasD in reply to jimzinsocal. | May 2, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I’m placing the blame for this squarely on Grenell. It sounds like the Romney camp knew they had made a misstep with the hiring. Maybe they wanted to find a way to resolve it gracefully.

    But what is beyond doubt is that it was Grenell who chose to pull the plug so publicly and dramatically. Which is entirely of a piece with his known modus operandi.

    Do I care that Romney wants to employ a gay man? No. But I do care that such a person cannot meet the most basic expectation of focusing on the task for which he was hired and instead wanted to entertain himself with his own pet project.

    I also care when a candidate for POTUS, our only alternative to Obama, cannot hire even a minor employee without spectacularly shooting himself in the foot.

jimzinsocal | May 2, 2012 at 9:00 am

Whoops..I see you added the York comment.

Ragspierre | May 2, 2012 at 9:02 am

Jenn is a weak reed, and no conservative, IMNHO. She has written some good stuff, but seems to have a dark side that keeps surfacing.

    jimzinsocal in reply to Ragspierre. | May 2, 2012 at 9:07 am

    I agree Rags. But here we are doing exactly what a Rubin desires…reacting to a provocative piece. Und unfortunately it forces us into a position that could have been avoided….perhaps via better or more careful vetting by the Romney camp. Thats my gripe.
    Were portrayed as the “anti gay” bunch when in fact the hiring of the guy should have been seen as otherwise.

    PGlenn in reply to Ragspierre. | May 2, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I don’t often read Rubin, so Ragspierre, perhaps you can help me out. What views has Rubin expressed that might properly be categorized as conservative, libertarian, or otherwise of the right? I realize she’s more of a quasi-reporter blogger than a policy analyst or political theorist, but it should be possible to ascertain some of her views based on her criticisms of political figures, plans/policies, and other writers.

    I’m hesistant to question her “conservative” credentials on the grounds that she’s consistently aggressively attacked other conservatives, whether it was valid criticisms or unreasonable attacks. There are many reasons that a bonafide “conservative,” given such a public platform, might aggressively attack people who are ostensibly in the same ideological camp. But is there any reason to believe that she understands, supports, and can articulate conservative/libertarian ideas?

    Before I make a point, let me stress that I am about as stridently pro-Israel as a non-Jewish American could ever be. If anything, I’d be accused of being “racist” pertaining to my views on Islam, etc. But, based on my limited exposure to Rubin, it didn’t seem that unfair to me when Erickson suggested that she is “more Likud than conservative.” I’m all for Likud, but conservatism entails more than one’s foreign policy views (and, for that matter, conservatives often disagree on foreign policy). Being “Likud” would be a good start for Rubin, but it’s not enough for me to consider her conservative.

    Apparently, she is anti-ObamaCare. Okay, another good step. What else?

    I ask because Rubin’s stance toward social conservatives is perplexing to me – it’s consistent with her being either a mature, sophisticated “progressive” or an immature college-kid type “conservative.” Even conservative libertarians (like me) who tend not to be especially moralistic in the poltical sphere understand the consequentialist benefits of social norms that celebrate “traditional values” and so forth (that’s a longer discussion for another time). Well, Rubin is supposed to be a genius, right?

      Ragspierre in reply to PGlenn. | May 2, 2012 at 11:54 am

      We agree.

      But Rubin also is fairly strong on market economics.

      Again, a very confused and confusing mind at work, seems to me.

        ThomasD in reply to Ragspierre. | May 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm

        Which marks her as not a far leftist, aka a centrist democrat. Or, at least, what used to be a centrist democrat before the hard left ran them all off. Basically someone who recognizes that you cannot have a big New Deal size government without a robust (semi)private sector.

        IOW she’s a neo-conservative without the conservatism and chose Romney because he was the furthest left of all non-Obama’s in the race.

        At this stage all she will do is seek to drive Romney ever further left.

      davod in reply to PGlenn. | May 2, 2012 at 3:17 pm

      “But, based on my limited exposure to Rubin, it didn’t seem that unfair to me when Erickson suggested that she is “more Likud than conservative.” I’m all for Likud, but conservatism entails more than one’s foreign policy views (and, for that matter, conservatives often disagree on foreign policy). Being “Likud” would be a good start for Rubin, but it’s not enough for me to consider her conservative.”

      Rubin’s attacks on other conservatives do not support a pro Israel stance. I would suggest Santorum and Gingrich probably have a more in depth knowledge of the Israeli Palestinian conflict than Romney and have demonstrated their support for Israel over a much longer period. Its not just a talking point with them.

    RickCaird in reply to Ragspierre. | May 2, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Just like Grenell, Rubin is becoming the story. Unfortunately, in her line of work, she and the
    WaPo consider that a good thing.

    On the other hand, I deleted her from my Google Reader when the tirades against the various “not-Romney’s” became both tedious and disgusting.

    Has anyone else noticed how often she has a “source” with no information about the source. I think a lot times that “source” is Rubin herself.

Not to be sycophantic, but this is the best commentary on the matter that I’ve seen. This primary season has me wishing that “our side” could be a little more level-headed, a little less personally nasty, and a little more logical.

In my opinion, a lot of the responsibility for the tone of the last 9 months falls on Jennifer Rubin, who has been as vitriolic as she has been wrong. While we apparently must try to counter her opinions (because she seems to be able to stir up a tempest at will), I’m looking forward to the day when she defects to the other side officially and we can all stop caring about what she writes.

Tamminator | May 2, 2012 at 9:10 am

Looks like Grenell learned his bullying tactics from Dan Savage.

Ragspierre | May 2, 2012 at 9:13 am

Mirengoff at PowerLine offers the old, “damned if you do, don’t, or didn’t know” scenario WRT Grenell.

In happier news…

abenson229 | May 2, 2012 at 9:15 am

“The Romney camp probably should have exercised better judgment up front.”

I suspect this is a line we will be seeing quite a bit of soon.

    jimzinsocal in reply to abenson229. | May 2, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Jeez I hope not but here we are again….forced into a non meat and spuds distraction that clouds real stuff. Hard to get campaign issues out there for the public when a bulk of the effort and time is spent defending/fiddling with this sort of thing.
    Like the other poster suggested…would be nice to just run a typical campaign on a “platform” of some sort and get back to basics but here we are.
    The reality is the opposition will do exactly the same sorts of things. Something like a runner in a sports event dropping nails all over the course to slow down the others. He gets closer to the line while other runners are busy picking nails out of their feet.

      Ragspierre in reply to jimzinsocal. | May 2, 2012 at 9:54 am

      I see it slightly differently.

      The Collective is GOING to do all it can…fair and foul…to shape the ground, as last night and previous days show with disgusting clarity.

      Romney will make mistakes…which are not the same as sins…as would any candidate. We all hope and expect those mistakes do not, in quality or quantity, become “sinful” (as did the McAnus candidacy).

      But the issue of the Prof.’s piece was Rubin’s use of the Grenell (pretty much non-) story as a platform for attacking social conservatives…without the least proof that social conservatives had a damn thing to do with him leaving.

      This kind of gratuitous hacking at each other is STOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooopid, and irrational. Yet, Rubin seems to indulge in it regularly.

I subscribed to the Washington Post for about twenty years. Their idea of a “conservative writer” is a writer who covers the conservative beat, and whose purpose is to make conservatives look bad.

This clearly is a judgment issue on the part of the Romney camp.

When you are being managed by a lot of consultants, how can you effectively make a good decision?

This doesn’t give me a whole lot of confidence in Mitt because this is exactly what he will do if elected President.

This is the very thing that Newt warned us about – consultants!

As for Jennifer Rubin, the truth would have surely served her better in the long run. Instead, she chose to slap the face of conservatives. It seems the Republican party has been doing a lot of that lately.

Alternate title:
Romney flips again.
And it was a flop.

NC Mountain Girl | May 2, 2012 at 10:33 am

A what were they thinking hire. The opponent says we are at war with women so Romney hires a spokesman who has been criticized by gay groups for playing into the stereotype of bitchy gay men who slag women. When I read some of Grenell’s Tweets I thought they could have been sent by one of the less astute designers on Project Runway. They’re marginally clever and may get the designer slot on Fashion Police with Joan Rivers but they aren’t advisable if the real goal is to sell untold millions in clothing, accessories and fragrances to women. For someone whose goal was purportedly to be an important spokesperson for a national political campaign they were a definite career limiting move.

As for those social conservatives forcing this resignation, the only roar I’ve heard over this was the one coming up from that immense cavern between Ms. Rubin’s ears.

O/T, but a palate-cleanser…

“One last thing. We’re hurting. We’ve been hurting. But if 17 million Germans could recover from almost half a century of Soviet oppression, think of how quickly we can recover from four years of Democrats.”

Follow the links to see the magic an even a relatively free market can work.

We don’t need to accept decline.

    Yes, but Germany went from from Communism to freedom. I’m not sure our transition will be quite so dramatic. Assuming we even get a favorable one.

      Ragspierre in reply to OCBill. | May 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm

      Relative, OC. Germany is hardly a free market model (though it sure is better than it has been historically).

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Ragspierre. | May 2, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    I don’t see why Germany should be absolved of all responsibility. They have had a strong left influence since the mid 19th century.

    Karl Marx
    Frederich Engels
    Bertolt Brecht
    Rosa Luxemburg
    to name a few .

    Many Germans went willingly to live in the Soviet zone.Also their Czarists connections were first class -many Tsarinas were German.

She shoots, she scores! G-O-A-L !!!

Well, okay, OWN GOAL.

Nice shootin’ there, Jen.

1. The Grenell affair is an unforced error by the Romney campaign. To repeat a mantra, you can’t afford many unforced errors when running against an incumbent President, even one as bad as Obama.

2. Once they got past their nominal ideological differences, Elizabeth Warren and Jennifer Rubin might find they have a lot in common.

What is that trite old saying?
Live by the sword,
Die by the sword.

Kind of like a boomerang with teeth. You can throw it out there and it will come back and bite ya. You betcha!

What is that trite old saying?
Live by the sword,
Die by the sword.

Rubin is somewhat like a boomerang with teeth. You throw her out there and she will come back and bite ya. You betcha!

el polacko | May 2, 2012 at 5:43 pm

i see grenell’s resignation as akin to palin’s: a way to take the heat off. grenell’s hire was being loudly denounced by ‘social conservative’ leaders who were making, as grenell stated, his personal life their focus. rather than taking away from romney’s campaign issues by becoming a diversionary target, he resigned.
it’s ridiculous to speculate, as some have, that grenell’s personal hopes for marriage equality or pressure from leftist groups were factors in his decision. the man has too long of a distinguished history of working in the republican party (for both bush and bolton no less) to suddenly have decided to chuck it all in order to win the favor of his gay brethern who are democrats.
the bad news for republicans in this is that it plays into the perception that the party is still in the grips of the ‘religious right’. this could sway some of those important idependent voters away from their willingness to vote for GOP candidates who are, otherwise, seen as champions of individual liberty, smaller government, and fiscal responsibility. the social-cons who are celebrating their ‘win’ here for driving a gay guy from the party don’t realize that they may have just shot themselves in the foot if they really do hope to put the republican candidate in the whitehouse…but then, maybe all they really do care about is harrassing gay citizens.

Someone please tell me the difference between Romney and Obama.

First rule of hiring people–which Romney ought to know well: Never hire someone you can’t fire. If you are a (putative) conservative Republican, hiring a gay activist is almost always going to violate that rule. Gays that keep their private lives to themselves–you MIGHT get away with it. A rabble rouser? What happened with Grenell is entirely predictable.

Which, BTW, is a real reason that Affirmative Action hurts the very people it is intended to help. Two people apply for the same job, equally qualified. One is a straight, white male; the other a “handicapped”, lesbian belonging to some protected racial subgroup. You know, by past experience, that it takes six months to a year to figure out if the person is going to work out and about one in four doesn’t. You know you can fire the white guy at the drop of a hat–the “minority” is going to cost you big time. Which do you suppose you hire?