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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney waves behind Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., at a campaign stop in Portsmouth, Va., Thursday, May 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
This weekend's column: Mitt makes a sacrifice (of someone else) ...

- Romney camp offers up a sacrifice - George Pyle, The Salt Lake Tribune

Part of my misspent DINK years (double income/no kids) was spent in the company of an oscillating — and sometimes osculating — group of similarly situated young adults who strove each weekend to be much cooler than we really were.

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Concerts in the park. Akvavit in the freezer. Obscure German jazz on the diamond-needled turntable. Dabbling in fads from Wicca to bicycles.

Two of our number were gay men. Two of our number were Republicans.

They were the same two.

That’s what happens when that couple was the first among us to actually buy a house, sensitizing them to such adult realities as property tax rates.

They were also very conscious of the fact that their desire to come out, as they had to their families and close friends, would be made much more difficult if they were perceived as frivolous, promiscuous or even predictably liberal in their political views. (Which does not explain why they always seemed to be the ones to bring the fruit plate to the Memorial Day picnic. But, then, stereotypes die hard.)

That approach (minus, probably, the fruit plate) might have been recognizable to Ric Grenell. Except that, from all reports, Grenell was not just a liberal who became a conservative when he opened his first tax bill.

Grenell is an experienced policy wonk. He is gay and has spoken out in favor of same-sex marriage.

He is also a neocon Republican of the first magnitude. He has worked for such other neocons as John Bolton — the United Nations ambassador who detested the United Nations — and others, building a pedigree that led him to be named as the national security spokesman for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

But, before he could spokes about anything, the man was out. Just as Grenell was about to be unleashed to explain to a panting press corps just how wrong President Obama is about the deal for the future of Afghanistan, or the handling of the asylum-seeking Chinese dissident, or any other foreign policy matter that the public might actually be interested in, now that the ballot is settled and the election just six months away, he quit.

The wan cover story from the Romney camp was that Grenell’s Twitter trail included too much over-the-top snarkiness about political rivals. But if nasty comments were firing offenses in politics, then nobody at the next Olympus High class reunion would have any idea who Karl Rove is.

Just when Grenell was about to begin his job, a clatter arose from some on the homophobic right — specifically the American Family Association — attacking the appointment as a slap in the face of the very evangelical elements that Romney needs to turn out in November. And, when Grenell resigned, the AFA’s Bryan Fischer was seen doing the Superior Dance of Victory.

All as people back in the real world — i.e., Utah — are starting to realize they have had it up to here with anti-gay bullying that leads people to not simply give up their dream jobs, but take their own lives.

"It’s a huge win for us in regard to Mitt Romney," Fischer said on his radio show, "because Mitt Romney has been forced to say, ‘Look, I overstepped my bounds here, I went outside my parameters here, I went off the reservation with this hire, the pro-family community has called me back to the table here, called me back inside the borders of the reservation.’"

So, Romney is back on the reservation. But it is unlikely that his betrayal of one loyal aide will be enough to satisfy the AFA crowd.

Having tasted blood, they are not going to be satisfied with a fruit plate.

George Pyle, a Tribune editorial writer, usually signs up to bring the doughnuts.

gpyle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @debatestate



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