Sunday, May 6, 2012

Prince Jellyfish II:
Bryan Fischer bites back

IN THIS season of the confederacy of dunces and their surrogates who have animated this presidential campaign, we’d gotten to where we thought we’d heard everything, every dimension of political crazy. Maybe that basically ends now. We can thank a conservative voicebox and radio talk-show host for making it crystal clear over the weekend just how Republican party allegiances can turn somersaults, worms can instantly turn sideways and the presumed party elders are all too happy to eat their young.

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and presumptive nominee for the Republican nomination, has lately been taken to task for walking away from his campaign’s appointment of Richard Grenell, a noted expert on foreign affairs and for all of give or take two weeks Romney’s foreign policy spokesman — because the candidate and his staff didn’t want to take the heat from the religious right over the appointment of Grenell, who is openly gay.

Turns out that in this case, the generalized “religious right” can be defined as one man, Bryan Fischer, the director of issue analysis and the firebrand spokesman for the conservative American Family Association, the man who made Grenell’s ouster job one from practically the moment Grenell came aboard.

“I think it's probably going to be a long time before Gov. Romney hires another homosexual activist to a prominent position in his campaign," Fischer told Business Insider after Grenell quit. "And that's good news if you're in the pro-family community.”

But then it got interesting. Fischer, who led the reputation assault on Grenell and gloated heavily when Romney folded, made statements on Friday at his other gig — as Mississippi-based host of the “Focal Point” radio program of the AFR Talk Network — blasting Romney for abandoning the Grenell appointment. You can’t make this up.

Fischer said: “If Mitt Romney can be pushed around, intimidated, coerced, co-opted by a conservative radio talk show host in Middle America, then how is he going to stand up to the Chinese? How is he going to stand up to Putin? How is he going to stand up to North Korea if he can be pushed around by a yokel like me? I don’t think Romney is realizing the doubts that this begins to raise about his leadership.

“I don’t think for one minute that Mitt Romney did not want this guy gone; he wanted this guy gone because there was not one word of defense, not a peep, from the Romney camp to defend him. They just went absolutely stone cold silent, they put a bag over Grenell’s head, they even asked him to organize this phone conference and they didn’t even let him speak at the conference that he organized.”

◊ ◊ ◊

YEA, VERILY, heads is tails in this political season, and wisdom (or at least good, cracking irony) comes from strange sources. We don’t know yet if Fischer realizes that the point he forcefully made on Friday is one that Americans across the political divide have been making about Romney for months.

And Fischer could just be returning in kind the same sort of condemnation that Romney leveled at him when the former governor spoke at the Values Voter Summit in October. “Our values ennoble the citizen and strengthen the nation. We should remember that decency and civility are values too,” Romney said then. “One of the speakers who will follow me today, has crossed that line, I think. Poisonous language doesn’t advance our cause. It’s never softened a single heart nor changed a single mind.”

It’s just possible this is nothing more or less than payback. It’s been that kind of year, you know.

But still. Despite his steady-as-he-goes approach to securing the nomination, it’s just one more slap upside the head that Romney doesn’t need. And in spite of the glide path he seems to be on, it’s not so much the fact of what was said on Friday talk radio that’s damaging to Team Romney. The source of this latest indictment of Romney’s politics is the problem.

Glide path be damned: It’s more than a mildly curious thing when someone like Fischer — a cellular conservative whom the Southern Poverty Law Center said spouted enough racist rhetoric to get that organization to label the American Family Association as a hate group back in 2010 — gets credit for making what amount to progressive talking points about the likely next Republican nominee for the presidency.
Image credits: Romney: via YouTube. Fischer: AFR Talk Network via YouTube.

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