I wanted to take a moment today to look at one of Jennifer Rubin’s latest pieces at the Washington Post. The title of the column sets the tone for what you’ll find in the main body. “Democrats should be clear: A radical GOP is holding the country back.” Anyone who has been following Rubin’s recent work will likely not be surprised to see this, but the column represents yet another in a long line of examples that should lead us to question how the WaPo continues to list her as one of their “conservative columnists.” And a brief walk through her professional history should amplify those questions nicely. First, let’s get to the substance of Rubin’s complaints about what the “radical GOP” has done this time that’s so awful and how the Democrats need to rally against the principles that Rubin once professed to embrace.
Washington is broken. Politicians can’t get anything done. They don’t listen to voters.
Voters have been making these complaints for decades, but never have they been truer than they are today. The preferences of a supermajority of voters, whether that’s investigating an armed insurrection to topple our democracy or securing the right to vote or passing reasonable gun measures or respecting women’s physical autonomy, are almost never translated into legislative output.
Worse, the results — a society rife with guns, the criminalization of abortion, attempts to subvert elections — are moving the country in ways that threaten the lives and rights of Americans.
Like me, many of you may feel like you remember a time when Jennifer Rubin was allegedly supporting Republican candidates and conservative causes. But a careful analysis of her history will quickly show you that the only Republican Rubin ever seemed enthusiastic about was the current junior senator from Utah. A better title for this column might have been, “I was only ever a Republican when Mitt Romney was running for something.”
I think most of us realize that not all conservatives in America are cut from the same cloth and we need to give each other a bit of breathing room where some of our interests differ. We used to spend a lot of time discussing the “three legs of the Republican stool” as Ronald Reagan described it. There were always differences between the Christian or social conservatives, the fiscal conservatives, and the military hawks. I myself have encountered criticism over the years for falling more into the libertarian camp on some (but far from all) social issues, such as gay marriage while being staunchly in the fiscal conservative camp and supporting both law enforcement and America’s military. Somehow we all manage to get along most of the time.
But take a look at that list of complaints that Rubin is foisting this week. She’s arguing in favor of gun control. She’s opposing any restrictions on abortion. She’s fighting for the Democrats’ election-rigging bills that are disguised under the guise of “election security.” She’s promoting the Democratic talking points about January 6th being “an insurrection” rather than a riot that got out of control.
She later goes on to describe the electoral college as an “anti-democratic tool” that is employed to give “disproportionate power” to “thinly populated, overwhelmingly White states” filled with people who are “out of step with the nation’s views and values.” She calls for an end to the filibuster and packing the Supreme Court.
Remind me again… which of the three legs of Reagan’s stool does this profile fit under?
Before Rubin made the jump to the Washington Post in 2010, she was seen in a rather different light by many who knew her. One friend later wrote at Media Matters about being confused by Rubin’s transition to being a columnist who was “blogging like mad as a conservative.” He pointed out that she had been a strong supporter of John Kerry in 2004. In her previous incarnation as an attorney, she worked in support of labor unions.
So what changed in 2010? The answer is obvious. Mitt Romney was running for President against Barack Obama. Rubin seemed to immediately adopt every policy that Romney endorsed. Of course, when Mitt went down to ignominious defeat in 2012, all of that seemed to go out the window. She had been more and more openly liberal on nearly every issue across the board by 2016, but what truly seems to have broken Jennifer Rubin irrevocably was Donald Trump. I suppose that’s understandable, because Trump permanently broke the vast majority of liberals across the country, along with a small but vocal contingent of never-Trumpers. The latter robbed the ranks of the conservative punditry of many established voices such as Joe Walsh. And yet… we persevere.
Just one closing question, though it’s come up many times in the past. I’m not calling for Rubin or anyone else to lose their jobs. Everyone should speak in their own voice. But would the Washington Post ever consider doing a bit of rebranding and stop claiming that Jennifer Rubin is a “conservative commentator?” That would at least be a bit more honest.