Mitt Romney's Panic Over Imaginary Ghosts From the Right

| Tue May 8, 2012 12:03 PM EDT

Jonah Goldberg pens just about the most scathing critique of Mitt Romney that I've ever seen in the LA Times today. I don't think he meant it to be quite as scathing as all that, but in the end it is. The subject is Richard Grenell, the gay foreign policy spokesman who left the Romney campaign after vitriolic attacks from Bryan Fischer, a radio host with the American Family Association. Here's Goldberg:

I've talked to many prominent Christian conservatives about this, and the idea that Fischer speaks for them is ludicrous. Fischer, who's argued that the 1st Amendment doesn't protect the religious freedom of non-Christians, doesn't speak for any members of the Christian right I know.

Gagging Grenell was a bad play for the Romney team because it guaranteed the issue wouldn't go away. The only way to dispel concerns about the man's fitness for the job was to let him do his job. Muzzling him until he resigned was the worst possible way to handle it because all it did was feed crocodiles like Fischer.

So: not only did Romney feel like he had to appease the Christian right in a particularly craven way, but he wasn't even appeasing the Christian right. Instead he was seized by panic, appeasing an imagined Christian right that — if Goldberg is correct — didn't really have all that big a problem with Grenell in the first place. Apparently the mere whiff of opposition from the social conservative base was enough to send Romney scurrying for cover.

I'm not plugged into movement conservatism enough to know if this is right. But if it is, it's a brutal indictment of Romney's fitness to be president.

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