The resignation of Richard Grenell is a sign that the former Massachusetts governor will cave to anti-gay forces.
Two weeks ago, the Romney campaign hired Richard Grenell—a long-time Republican and former staffer for the Bush White House—to act as a spokesperson on foreign policy and national security. Grenell received tough criticism from Democrats for a series of sexist tweets, but that wasn’t enough to spark reticience from the Romney team.
What was, however, were attacks from religious conservatives on Grenell’s sexuality. Conservative activists hammered Romney for hiring an openly gay spokesperson, and questioned Grenell’s commitment to the conservative cause. “Suppose Barack Obama comes out — as Grenell wishes he would — in favor of same-sex marriage in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention,“ wrote Matthew J. Franck at the National Review, ”How fast and how publicly will Richard Grenell decamp from Romney to Obama?”
This afternoon, Grenell announced his resignation from the Romney campaign, citing the relentless attacks on his sexuality:
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.
A few things to highlight. First is the remarkable fact that, in 2012, a gay person can’t serve as spokesperson for a Republican campaign, lest they attract criticism from conservative activists. Second, and significantly, is the fact of Romney’s weakness; as standard-bearer for the GOP, Romney was well within his rights to hold fast and reject attacks from the Right. That he didn’t—and allowed Grenell to resign—is a sign of Romney’s skittishness with social conservatives. He is worried enough about their support that he will cave to anti-gay bigotry if necessary. It’s also fitting that this comes on a day when we’re still debating President Obama’s decision to run on the killing of Osama bin Laden. Bowing to pressure from bigots isn’t a great way to inspire confidence in your “resolve.”
One last point. This incident is a better indication of how Romney would govern than anything he’s said or any plan he’s released; he is completely captive to the right-wing, and will cave if they push him. It’s something to keep in mind if you’re tempted to describe the former Massachusetts governor as a moderate.
By: Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect, May 1, 2012
“Aiding And Abetting”: Romney Joined Bush-Cheney Smear Campaign On John Kerry’s National Security Record In 2004
Mitt Romney doesn’t like it that President Obama’s re-election campaign in a new video decided to tout the president’s decision to order the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and to question — based on his comments from 2007 — whether Romney would have done the same thing. Here’s Romney complainingabout the video ad on CBS this morning:
ROMNEY: And the idea to try to politicize this, and to say, “oh, I, President Obama would have done it one way and Mitt Romney would have done it another,” is really disappointing. Let’s not make the capture or killing of Osama bin Laden a politically divisive event. There are plenty of differences between President Obama and myself. But let’s not make up ones based on, “Well he might not have done this.” It’s disappointing and it’s unfortunate and it’s taking an event that really brought America together.
Back in 2004, President Bush ran a smear campaign against challenger Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) which undermined his service in Vietnam and questioned Kerry’s ability and determination to protect the United States — just three years removed from the 9/11 attacks — from another terror strike. “If we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we’ll get hit again,” then Vice President Dick Cheney said at the time.
And while Romney complains about Obama’s alleged “politicization” now, he willfully participated in the Bush-Cheney smear campaign on Kerry in 2004. During an August 9, 2004 (accessed via Lexis/Nexis) interview on Fox News, Romney suggested that Kerry would “twiddle his thumbs” when dealing with terrorism and in September 2004, also on Fox News, Romney said Kerry is too much of a flip-flopper to protect the country:
ROMNEY: [M]ost has already been said about John Kerry. I think people know pretty well that he’s a guy who has a hard time finding which side of a position to come down on. But I’m going to focus on the fact that our nation needs strong leadership. We’re under attack, militarily, economically. Our very way of life is under attack. And we need to have the kind of steady, strong leadership, which is represented by Dick Cheney, and by of course, President George W. Bush.
In his speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention (RNC) in New York City, Romney said “America is under attack from almost every direction,” later adding, “On the just war our brave soldiers are fighting to protect free people everywhere, there is no question: George W. Bush is right, and the ‘Blame America First’ crowd is wrong.”
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent also notes that during his speech at the 2008 RNC, Romney “blasted Obama as untrustworthy when it comes to combating ‘the threat from radical, violent jihad,’ which he contrasted with John McCain, who, apparently unlike Obama, understands that ‘radical, violent Islam is evil,’ and will do everything he can to defeat it.”
“Republicans are — forgive the cliché — shocked, shocked to discover that a presidential contender is ‘politicizing’ an important national event,” Jon Meacham writes today, noting that Obama’s alleged “politicizing” might be a bit different from what the GOP knows. “In this sense,” Meacham writes, “‘politicizing’ might be best translated as ‘beating us up and we don’t have anything much to say to stop it.”
By: Ben Armbruster and Igor Volsky, May 1, 2012
Former Gov. Mitt Romney and his advisers and surrogates are going apoplectic over the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden and the attention President Obama is getting for the success.
They absolutely hate that he is using the events in ads and are especially defensive that the Obama campaign is pointing out Romney’s own statements that he “wouldn’t move heaven and earth” to get bin Laden and that he was against going into Pakistan unannounced.
Well, as I write this, the networks just reported that President Obama has arrived in Afghanistan on a surprise visit. My, my, now we are really going to hear from the Romney campaign, or won’t we?
If I were them, I would just zip it. The Republicans look unbelievably hypocritical on this one.
Remember “Mission Accomplished”—landing on that aircraft carrier declaring victory in Iraq? Oops. Remember the Republican National Convention in New York City in 2004? Remember President Bush and the Republicans trying to use 9/11 as a political club to beat Sen. John Kerry?
Go back and review the speeches at that Republican convention from Mayor Rudy Giuliani, in particular. Or how about Ed Koch, or Bernard Kerik, or even retired General Tommy Franks? And, yes, even one Mitt Romney, who declared, “George W. Bush is right, and the ‘Blame America First Crowd’ is wrong!”
Playing politics with the tragedy of 9/11 or even the war in Iraq was the Republicans’ mantra.
I guess they were for it before they were against it, huh?
The bottom line is that President Obama did the right thing at tremendous risk to the lives of men under his command and with a real risk of failure. He knew, as we all do now, that had this mission not been successful lives would have been lost and his political career would have been over. And, yet, he had the courage, the grace under pressure, to make the call. That is what we call leadership.
By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World report, May 1, 2012
If you were to stroll by the House chamber today — or tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that — you would arrive at the ideal time to see what the lawmakers do best: absolutely nothing.
It’s another recess week for our lazy leaders. Oh, sorry: “Constituent Work Week” is what they’re calling it these days, as if lawmakers were filling potholes and making calls to Social Security rather than raising campaign cash.
By the time the Republican-led House returns next week, members will have been working in Washington on just 41 of the first 127 days of 2012 — and that was the busy part of the year. They are planning to be on vacation — er, doing “constituent work” — 17 of the year’s remaining 34 weeks, and even when they are in town the typical workweek is three days.
Good work if you can get it — but the behavior is doing quite a job on the rest of us. On those infrequent occasions the House is in session, the Senate, also enamored of recess, often isn’t, which helps explain why the two chambers can’t agree on much of anything.
To call this 112th Congress a do-nothing Congress would be an insult — to the real Do-Nothing Congress of 1947-48. That Congress passed 908 laws. To date, this one has passed 106 public laws. Even if they triple that output in the rest of 2012 — not a terribly likely proposition — they will still be in last place going back at least 40 years.
Doing nothing would arguably be preferable to what the House is actually doing. Lawmakers have staged 195 roll-call votes so far this year, which sounds like a lot until you realize that boils down to only about 60 pieces of legislation, including post-office namings. Among the 60:
-The Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act.
-The Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012.
-Legislation requiring the Treasury to mint coins commemorating the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service.
-The World War II Memorial Prayer Act.
The few pieces of important legislation of this Congress, such as the payroll-tax break and the debt-limit increase, have been passed by the Republican majority under pressure and duress. Republican leaders claim that a heavy schedule means bigger government, but the lax schedule has been challenged by no less a conservative than firebrand freshman Allen West.
This is not to suggest that the Democratic-controlled Senate is blameless. The Post’s Paul Kane went through Senate roll-call votes from this year and found that, of the 87 votes, the majority were on just three bills: 25 on the highway bill, 16 on the postal bill and 13 on an insider-trading bill. Sixteen others were on confirmations.
But there is a crucial difference: While a simple majority in the House can pass pretty much anything without agreement of the minority, the Senate is traditionally where bills go to die. Because the Democrats lack a filibuster-proof majority, they can bring virtually nothing to a vote without the blessing of the Republicans. Even with that high hurdle, the Senate has been able to slog through a number of bills in recent weeks: a long-term renewal of the surface transportation bill, renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, postal reform and a bill making it easier for companies to go public.
The last of those passed the House, too, but the other three are awaiting action. Of those, the failure to pass a long-term highway bill is particularly glaring. House Speaker John Boehner announced in November that he was proceeding with the bill, but so far he has been able to pass only a short-term extension. The House also has yet to act on the China currency bill the Senate passed last fall. Instead, House Republicans have voted repeatedly on budgets that will never be followed and similarly doomed attempts at repealing Obama priorities.
With such a lean agenda, filling even 41 days has been a challenge. House Republicans are now devoting full floor debates to bills such as H.R. 2087, “To remove restrictions from a parcel of land situated in the Atlantic District, Accomack County, Virginia.” That issue — allowing development on a 32-acre property — was so crucial to the Republic that lawmakers had five roll-call votes on the topic.
They dressed it up and called it a “jobs bill” — but really it was another bill showing that House Republicans aren’t doing theirs.
By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, May 1, 2012
Republicans are waging the most concerted campaign to prevent or discourage citizens from exercising their legitimate voting rights since the Jim Crow days of poll taxes and literacy tests.
Four years ago, Democrats expanded American democracy by registering millions of new voters — mostly young people and minorities — and persuading them to show up at the polls. Apparently, the GOP is determined not to let any such thing happen again.
According to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, which keeps track of changes in voting laws, 22 statutes and two executive actions aimed at restricting the franchise have been approved in 17 states since the beginning of 2011. By the center’s count, an additional 74 such bills are pending.
The most popular means of discouraging those young and minority voters — who, coincidentally, tend to vote for Democrats — is legislation requiring citizens to show government-issued photo identification before they are allowed to cast a ballot. Photo ID bills have been approved by Republican-controlled legislatures in Alabama, Kansas, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin, and by referendum in Mississippi. Only one state with a Democratic-controlled legislature — Rhode Island — passed a law requiring voters to produce identification, and it does not mandate a government ID with a photo. In Virginia, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell has not decided whether to sign a voter ID bill the legislature sent to his desk.
In theory, what could be wrong with demanding proof of identity? In the real world, plenty.
As Republican strategists are fully aware, minorities are overrepresented among the estimated 11 percent of citizens who do not have a government-issued photo ID. They are also painfully aware that, in 2008, President Obama won 95 percent of the African American vote and 67 percent of the Hispanic vote. It doesn’t take a genius to do the math: If you can reduce the number of black and Latino voters, you improve the Republican candidate’s chances.
If photo ID laws were going to be the solution, though, Republicans had to invent a problem. The best they could come up with was The Menace of Widespread Voter Fraud.
It’s a stretch. Actually, it’s a lie. There is no Widespread Voter Fraud. All available evidence indicates that fraudulent voting of the kind that photo ID laws would presumably prevent — someone shows up at the polls and votes in someone else’s name — just doesn’t happen.
For a while, the GOP pointed to South Carolina, where Republican Gov. Nikki Haley said that “dead people” had somehow cast ballots in recent elections. But then the state’s election commission investigated claims of 953 zombie voters and, um, well, never mind.
The number of voters came from a crude comparison of records done by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. The elections commission actually found 207 contested votes. Of that total, 106 reflected clerical errors by poll workers, 56 reflected errors by the motor vehicles department, 32 involved people who were mistakenly listed as having voted, and three involved people who had cast absentee ballots and then died before Election Day.
That left 10 contested votes — count ’em, 10 — that could not be immediately resolved. However, the commission found no evidence of fraud. Or of zombies.
Of course, there are other potential kinds of electoral fraud; crooked poll workers, for example, could record votes in the names of citizens who actually stayed home. Election officials could design ballots in a way that worked to a specific candidate’s advantage or disadvantage (see Florida, 2000). But none of this would be prevented by photo ID, which still hasn’t found a problem to solve — except, perhaps, an excess of Democratic voters.
Even more sinister are new laws, such as in Florida, that make it much more difficult for campaigns — or anyone else — to conduct voter-registration drives. If you thought Republicans and Democrats agreed that more Americans should register to vote, you were sadly mistaken.
Florida requires that groups conducting registration drives be vetted and that registration forms be submitted within 48 hours of when they are signed — an onerous and unnecessary burden that only serves to hamper anyone seeking to expand the electorate. Let’s see, who might try to do such a thing? The Democratic Party, maybe? The Obama campaign?
In the name of safeguarding the sanctity of the ballot, Republicans are trying to exclude citizens they consider likely to vote for Democrats — the young, the poor, the black and brown. Those who love democracy cannot allow this foul subterfuge to succeed.
By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, April 30, 2012