I know I'm supposed to be angry and disappointed that Richard Grenell, Mitt Romney's foreign policy aide, who is openly gay, felt obliged to resign from the campaign "because 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 got "hounded by anti-gay conservatives," according to the conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin. They were concerned that Grenell is a strong supporter of gay marriage. (I don't know any gays who aren't, but maybe I don't get out enough.) Some anti-Grenell sentiment was even expressed in the mainstream-conservative National Review. The Romney campaign says it's sorry to see Grenell go, but the Post's Greg Sargent points out that Romney passed up an opportunity to tell anti-gay religious bigots to go to hell, he's keeping Grenell. Which, I suspect, is what Romney wanted to do. But he can't. And I'm glad he can't.
He can't because the Republican party, and therefore Romney's campaign, has been captured by extremists who won't let Romney move very far to the center, as he needs to do to win. I'm sorry that Grenell is paying the price for this, and I believe Grenell's treatment is deplorable. But I also think it would be unfortunate if Romney were able to persuade people that the GOP isn't captive to its extremists, because even if Romney showed some bravery on this issue it wouldn't really be true in general.
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