Man Down in Power City

May 1, 2012 5:25 p.m.

Why is the snap resignation of Mitt Romney’s openly gay foreign policy spokesman so damaging?The Obama campaign has spent days hammering the claim that Mitt lacked the fortitude to make the risky choice to launch a commando raid to kill Osama bin Laden. Either it was that he said it wasn’t sufficiently important or that he said he wouldn’t violate Pakistani sovereignty to launch such an attack. In either case, the core message was ‘I was right; he was wrong.’ But as I’ve argued, the ferocity of the attack itself was meant to diminish Romney as weak and helpless, a man unable to properly defend himself.

This is “bitch slap politics” at its best or its worst, depending on your measure. Through the day, Romney struggled to find a way to say that the President deserved credit for his decision but that anyone else would have done just the same thing.

Against that backdrop, the sudden resignation of Romney’s new foreign policy spokesman Richard Grenell came at just the wrong time since it told just the same story about Romney as the Obama campaign has been telling all week: Romney is weak.

The Romney campaign is telling reporters that its top operatives tried to keep Grenell from resigning. And that may well be true. But the context is that anti-gay activists have been attacking Grenell for his homosexuality and Romney for appointing him from the day he announced the appointment. And the Romney campaign had been conspicuously silent in the face of those attacks.

“It’s going to be difficult for Romney to take other steps like this. And that’s what’s really frightening to me,” Fred Karger, openly gay Republican candidate for president told TPM. “It’s just too tough to stand up to these groups because they have a lot of money and power. You’ve got to be able to do that, that’s leadership.”

“Would a public statement of support from the campaign for Ric have made a difference?” Chris Barron of GOProud told Buzzfeed. “I don’t know, but it certainly would have been the right thing to do.”

In other words, Romney’s actions have spoken louder than his awkward replies to the original bin Laden smackdown. In the face of attacks meant to show he can’t stand up to Osama bin Laden, Romney shows he can’t stand down the far-right homophobes in his own party.

The two things are worlds apart. Literally. But they put Romney in the same place.

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