Always on the hunt for ways to make himself even less appealing to the American public, several days ago Mitt Romney hired Richard Grenell, a former Bush administration official, as his national security and foreign policy spokesman. Why is that bad? Well, a quick look at Grenell's Twitter history revealed that he is actually a total sexist prick. Naturally, Grenell went in and deleted more than 800 (!) of the offending tweets, but we've pretty much got all the proof we need that Romney's made a big mistake—especially if he's hoping to appeal to us womenfolk who don't take kindly to men commenting on our appearance instead of our substance.
It seems there aren't many people who are happy Grenell is onboard the Good Ship Romneypop. On the far right, Bryan Fischer, a prominent anti-gay activist is targeting Grenell, who is openly gay. Buzzfeed reports Fischer is upset that Romney would have hired an "out & loud gay" spokesman, and he says by doing so Romney has basically told "the pro-family community" to "drop dead." That is obviously shitty, but while his sexuality may be a problem for some extreme conservatives, the problem for the rest of us is that Grinnell seems to have a very sexist streak and says nasty things about Democratic women and others. Oh, and longtime reporters think he's terrible at his job—which never bodes well if your whole job is relating to the press corps.
While he's done some writing on his personal site (which has since been taken down, but major props for using GoDaddy.com for hosting), the majority of his inflammatory comments were made on Twitter. On Friday (the day after his hiring was announced), his Twitter feed showed 7,577 tweets. By yesterday morning, he was down to 6,759 tweets. That's a little over 800 tweets he doesn't want us to see anymore—despite the fact that he once thought they were fit to post in a very public place.
So what exactly did he say that was so objectionable? Well, mostly he had choice words for Democrats, women, reporters, and the Gingrichs. Oh, is that all? ThinkProgress has a nice collection of many of the tweets in question, but let's take a look at a few of his favorite targets:
Callista and Newt Gingrich seem to be one of his pet projects. Of Callista, he said, "do you think callista's hair snaps on?" Very clever. He also observes, "Calista stands there like she is wife #1." And he once wrote, "Newt: My 1st Lady knows what it's like to be 2nd and 3rd…." All pretty dumb jokes, but definitely not befitting of someone who's supposed to be a public part of the Republican machine.
He often seems to take issue with women's appearance—Democratic women, in particular. Of Hilary Clinton he wrote, "Hillary is starting to look liek Madeline Albright." Hmm, maybe that would be a better diss if he could spell? Eh, probably not. He also unwisely made a crack about Michelle Obama which made reference to her working out and "sweating on the East Room carpet." Pure class, bro. Like pretty much every conservative tweeter, he took a cheap jab at Sandra Fluke: "Hanging at the pool and realizing how expense it is to keep using sunscreen. How do law students pay for protection? #Fluke" Durrr. You know, Dick, if you really want to criticize Democratic ladies, it would probably be more effective to go after their opinions and actions rather than their perspiration and attractiveness.
When it comes to Rachel Maddow, Grenell seems to have a case of the lady doth protest too much. He wrote both, "rachel maddow needs to take a breath and put on a necklace," and this gem:
Forced to watch #msnbc on gym tv. The Rachel Maddow commercials can't possibly attract any viewers, aside from Bieber fans #DeadRinger
We get it. You think Rachel Maddow looks like a lesbian who looks like Justin Bieber. Ha ha. You know, Mitt, having this guy on your team is going to do wonders for your relationship with women voters. Excellent choice.
Of course, Grenell is saying it was all some good old-fashioned fun with harmless words:
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.
Bullshit, sir. Not that he's said anything that many of Republicans haven't been thinking, but even if you're not actively working for a president, if you work in politics, you should know that anything you put out there has the potential to come back and bite you in the ass. It's generally advised that you keep your offensive thoughts to yourself. So we can add "poor judgment" to the list of this superstar's qualifications.
As for Grenell's other beefs, it turns out he has a real problem with reporters in general, not just Maddow. He basically thinks that they're all liberals who are out to get him. (Somebody's been watching a little too much Fox News.) He's even gone so far as to use Twitter to accuse specific journalists of being biased. Not a great foot to get off on when they're the people you're depending on for crucial and fair coverage of your candidate.
Former Bush henchman Ari Fleischer told the Huffington Post that it was "better to judge people on their human interactions than their Twitter feed." Newsflash, Twitter feeds ARE human interactions—and they're often more revealing about people's true feelings than face-to-face chats. Fleischer, who worked with Grenell, did call him "sharp" and "savvy" and said he "understands the rough and tumble of politics," as well as policy issues. Well, then he should have no problem understanding why people are holding him accountable for stupid bullshit he said on the internet.
It's not just that he's a nasty, petty, and sexist tweeter, however; it's also that a number of longtime reporters have said Grenell sucks at his job. Among them is Irwin Arieff, who has been a Reuters reporter for more than twenty years and dealt with Grenell when he was a spokesman at the UN. Arieff told the Huffington Post that he found Grenell "to be the most dishonest and deceptive press person I ever worked with." Oh, great. Tell us more:
He often lied, even more frequently offered half answers or withheld information that would weaken his case or reflect poorly on his ideological point of view. He was always argumentative with the press, castigating reporters for asking questions he did not like, and calling them to criticize them for writing articles he did not like.
Splendid. He actually sounds like he'll fit right in with the Republican model of mainstream media victimhood that Sarah Palin so kindly perfected. Of course, up until recently, as obnoxious and gaff-prone as Romney has been, he's been careful not to establish a super contentious relationship with the press. Well, goodbye to all that. Now that he's got Mr. Judgey McParanoid Pants on his team of spokespeople we can look forward to all kinds of fun. Maybe he'll even commandeer Mitt Romney's Twitter and offer up some choice words about Nancy Pelosi or Angela Merkel.
[Photo via YouTube]