Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Rubin’
September 6th, 2013 at 2:31 am
Syrian Resolution Looks Doomed to Failure
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Earlier today, Rick Klein, Political Director for ABC News, tweeted out that 217 members of the House of Representatives have gone on record “as likely to oppose authorizing military force against Syria,” giving those opposed to the resolution a majority in the lower chamber (if we have any pedants in the audience shouting about the fact that it takes 218 to reach a majority, note that Alabama and Massachusetts both currently have one vacant seat).

Now, “likely to oppose” isn’t the same thing as definitely voting no, but anyone who’s staking out territory this early in the process is disproportionately likely to to stick to his guns. And it’s clear that the momentum on this is all going in one direction — and it’s not the president’s.

That’s remarkable, but not particularly surprising. Sometimes you can get a member to vote against his political interest for the sake of ideology. Sometimes you can get him to vote against his ideology for the sake of his political interest. But when both are imperiled simultaneously, the whipping gets much harder. That’s precisely the case with a potential military offensive that polls terribly and hits intellectual pressure points for liberals and conservatives alike.

One dispiriting aspect of this debate is the chorus of conservative voices such as Jennifer Rubin, Hugh Hewitt, and Bret Stephens who’ve conflated opposition to feckless, limited airstrikes in Syria with “isolationism.” It may be fair to say that nearly all isolationists are opposed to taking action in Syria. It does not follow, however, that all who are opposed to taking action in Syria are isolationists. The scope of opposition is far too large to be constituted entirely (or even primarily) of those opposed to American action overseas in all but the most limited circumstances.

I suspect that there are a fair number of conservatives like me — as far removed from the reflexive international reticence of Rand Paul as we are from John McCain’s “anytime, anywhere, for any reason” school of intervention — who just don’t see the strategic payoff here, especially given the manner in which the Obama Administration would be likely to conduct the fight.

America has played too fast and loose with defining our national security interests in recent years. Doing so again — especially when it’s clear that the Obama Administration has no plan that will actually result in a change of circumstances on the ground in Syria — is an exercise in futility. The measure deserves defeat.

March 8th, 2013 at 12:21 pm
Jennifer Rubin Takes McCain to Task

In a very thoughtful but eminently necessary takedown, Jennifer Rubin takes John McCain to task, quite effectively, for his recent conniption fit against Rand Paul. (Actually, Rubin was comparatively gentle on McCain: She could have blasted the bejeebers out of him for his ongoing rants against Paul, Ted Cruz, and others on the right. McCain really does need to take a chill pill — or maybe about a dozen chill pills, while listening to soothing music, and return to public discourse only after a few Lenten confessions about his ill disposition.)

Here’s a key passage from Rubin’s blog post:

It is a mistake for conservative hawks is to view any limitation (constitutional, fiscal, real world) as a threat to their well-meaning effort to maintain U.S. influence in the world. In fact, it is only with respect for some limits on the executive, understanding of fiscal restraints and, most important, an appreciation for whom we are dealing with (friend or foe) that an internationalist foreign policy can be sustained.

At some point McCain begins to hurt more than help that endeavor.

Do read the whole post. I do take issue with one thing, however. In the course of making a larger point, she wrote:  ”If you want to promote pro-life views you better not nominate Richard Mourdock….”  It is time to set the record straight on Mourdock, who disastrously lost the Senate seat in Indiana that Richard Lugar had held for 36 years. It is true that Mourdock proved to be an inept (or less than fully, uh, ept) general election candidate, struggling mightily in what should have been an easy race even before he stumbled in a discussion of rape and abortion. But, unlike in some other cases that shall here go nameless, there was every reason to believe that Mourdock would be a solid candidate. Elected statewide as Treasurer of Indiana, he had shown political skills beyond a narrow constituency; he had a good record in office; his main claims to fame were fiscal/economic rather than social-issue hard-liner issues; and he ran a primary campaign based on broad themes rather than narrow appeals. Then, when he did stumble on rape, the reality is that what he said, in context, was almost perfectly acceptable. It only sounded awful when taken out of context — and then, mostly because it occurred in an atmosphere poisoned by Todd Akin’s truly idiotic rape/abortion statements in Missouri. After Akin’s screw-up, of course, Mourdock should have been prepared to avoid even wandering into the thicket he wandered into — but he shouldn’t be lumped in with Akin as having said something obnoxious, or of not being, on paper, a thoroughly acceptable candidate.

But that’s an aside — just something I had to say, because those who backed Mourdock in the primary had every reason to think they were getting a very solid candidate.

Back to the main point. As Rubin wrote, in criticizing McCain:

Whatever the reason, he is making an serious error of the type that recently has plagued many conservatives in a variety of policy arenas. A policy with no limits is not sustainable. And an approach to foreign or domestic policy that shuns prudence, balance and recent experience isn’t conservative.

This is a lesson all of us should take to heart. Politics is the art of the possible. And temper tantrums, like McCain’s, often make fewer good things possible than they otherwise would have been.

June 5th, 2012 at 1:23 pm
Will a Backdoor Cap and Trade Plan be One of Obama’s Last Acts in Office?
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Those who believe that it’s in the best interest of the nation for Barack Obama’s presidency to terminate next January have been feeling their oats a bit lately. As Jennifer Rubin noted yesterday at the Washington Post’s “Right Turn” blog:

Whatever you think is the cause of the economic doldrums, it has now dawned on the Democrats and the press that Obama could lose this thing.

Quite so. But even if one indulges in the most optimistic projections for November, there’s a danger in getting too comfortable. There could be mischief brewing for the lame duck congressional session following the presidential election. As Conn Carroll reports in the Washington Examiner:

At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Wednesday, [Senator John] Kerry announced that he would not be submitting the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea [LOST] for a vote before the November election. Instead, Kerry intends to hold a series of hearings before the election, building the case for passage, before pushing the treaty in a lame-duck session. This is the exact same game plan Kerry executed to pass the New START treaty during the 2010 lame duck…

…If the Senate approves LOST this December, any country that believes itself harmed by global warming could force the U.S. into binding arbitration, most likely in front of the Annex VII Arbitral Tribunal, LOST’s default dispute resolution forum.

Any judgment from that tribunal would be final, unappealable, and immediately enforceable in U.S. federal court. In 1982, a similar arbitration body forced Canada to set hourly caps on their sulfur dioxide emissions, causing industry to spend millions on mitigation efforts. A LOST tribunal could set similar caps on U.S. carbon emissions, triggering trillions in economic damage.

Cap and trade, of course, was Obama’s other major first-term initiative besides Obamacare, but when the politics surrounding the former issue became toxic — and congressional Republicans hit back hard on the cap and trade plan — the administration backed off. But is anyone willing to bet that Obama’s sense of fair play will prevent him from backdooring through the policy in the dying days of his administration?

If so, you’d have to believe that a president who has no compunctions about stripping fundamental religious freedoms through administrative fiat, who’s already busy promising the Russian government that he’ll “have more flexibility” on missile defense when he doesn’t have to face the American electorate again, and who has already flirted with extralegal methods for enacting international carbon reduction would suddenly be stricken by conscience after facing the sting of rejection from the voters.

Those odds don’t look good. Which is why conservatives need to remain on guard until the day Obama departs for Chicago.

January 7th, 2012 at 1:29 pm
A Plethora of Great Political Analyses

I’ve been so busy this week that I missed the chance to link to a host of excellent pieces as they came out. So now here’s some one-stop-shopping for wonderful political pieces.

First, Jennifer Rubin was on fire this week. She still is bedeviling Newt Gingrich. And she hits Gingrich yet again here. She continues to praise Rick Santorum, this time for running a “thinking person’s race.” (She was one of the only columnists to take Santorum seriously as a candidate as early as late summer.) She defends Santorum from the charge from Rick Perry — whom he continues to criticize — that the Pennsylvanian is somehow a “big government conservative.” (For that matter, I have a new piece answering that same charge, here at National Review Online.) On that same general topic, she blasts “the screechy voices in the blogosphere, the perfectionist pundits…,” those who demand philosophical purity without any political context. (This last was a particularly well argued piece.) She closes a piece analyzing Santorum’s big remaining challenges with a great paragraph: “Republicans can get awfully theoretical and sterile in their approach. Santorum can remind the entire field that politics is also about emotion, connection, inspiration and faith.” And she provides a moving portrayal of Santorum’s wife, Karen.

Whew! That was just in three days.

She’s not the only one writing with eloquence and perspicacity. Two new pieces at The Weekly Standard make the case (as William Kristol has made for months) that it is foolish to anoint a nomination winner prematurely and that “moderate” or “establishment” or “safe” choices are often less likely to win than are candidates the establishment sees as risky.

A note about Bill Kristol: For much of 2011, I repeatedly contended in private conversations with very smart Washington people (along wit columns here and elsewhere)  that Santorum, though a long shot, had a real chance to become a finalist or winner in the GOP nomination sweepstakes. For most of that time, everybody airily dismissed the idea out of hand. Only one conversation went differently. Over coffee in downtown DC with Kristol in early May, Kristol said he doubted Santorum could do it, but that he thought highly of him… AND that, considering what he, Kristol, already recognized as the weaknesses and volatility of this year’s apparent field (this was before the polls themselves became volatile), that he wouldn’t write Santorum off, because he could see a “path to victory” for Santorum, albeit a remote one. He then gave a quick “for instance” hypothetical situation (for just about 45 seconds of our discussion), whose details I don’t remember other than that he was the only person to even suggest Santorum could find such a path. Later in the summer, Jen Rubin started covering Santorum seriously, with the same insight Kristol had, and in the fall blogger R.S. McCain did as well. That was it. Nobody else. So a hat tip to the three of them….

Now, back to good pieces this week. I think the most remarkable piece of the week came from former U.S. Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama, a thoughtful, moderate, black Democrat whose insights are usually worthwhile. He wrote at NRO that Santorum’s Iowa caucus-night speech was superb — “the best Republican rhetoric in the last decade” —  and offered a real political threat to Democrats. Along those same lines, two OTHER new pieces at the Weekly Standard pick up on some of the same themes: “the neglected substance of the Santorum campaign,” and that “Santorum has the potential to be a formidable opponent to Obama.” As Jonathan Last noted — and this is a theme first seriously highlighted a couple of weeks back by NRO’s Rich Lowry, “It’s an interesting bridge, from economic to moral issues, that Santorum constructs.”

At NRO, Robert Costa called Santorum “a blue collar candidate,” and at the Telegraph in Great Britain, a columnist made Rocky Balboa comparisons in calling him a “working class hero.”

Meanwhile, turning to Mitt Romney, Deroy Murdock penned this absolutely devastating examination of Romney’s record as a tax hiker and a big burdener of business. Particularly of interest this week, Romney even taxes New Hampshireites: ”

As if impoverishing his own taxpayers were not bad enough, Romney’s March 5, 2003 signature raised taxes on non-residents retroactive to that January 1. Perpetrating taxation without representation, Romney’s law declared that, “gross income derived from… any trade or business, including any employment,” would be taxable, “regardless of the taxpayer’s residence or domicile in the year it is received.”

Consequently, according to data furnished by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, between 2002 and 2006, New Hampshire residents who work or do business in the Bay State shipped Massachusetts $95 million above what they paid when Romney arrived. The average tax paid by New Hampshirities to Massachusetts grew by 19.1 percent, from $2,392 in 2002 to $2,850 in 2006.

This is the sort of thing that Newt Gingrich is flinging at Romney. As Murdock shows, there is real substance behind it.

There…. that’s more than enough for now. I think there were others I wanted to highlight, but if I remember them, I’ll do so in another post.

December 8th, 2011 at 5:07 pm
Rubin on Gingrichian Unethics

Nobody in print (or cyberprint) has been as relentlessly and factually  brutal against Newt Gingrich than Wash Post conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin. The key thing is, she keeps digging up actual facts, evidence, history. Not a lot of extraneous opinion. Here’s her latest, on Newtonian ethics. One always wonders how the alchemy works that turns facts into information that actually sways public opinion. But it’s clear that unless the facts are published, there’s no chance for them to be absorbed. Indefatigable reporting like this merits applause.

November 14th, 2011 at 3:25 pm
Newt Agonistes

Now that he is surging in the polls, Newt Gingrich is likely to come under renewed scrutiny. Jennifer Rubin was nice enough to quote me extensively in this blog post, but she also wrote a whole lot more worth reading, including this:

It is far from certain whether Gingrich will hold up under scrutiny any better than Herman Cain, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), and Texas Gov. Rick Perry did. Unlike Perry and Cain, he won’t be perceived as lacking a basic understanding of the issues. But soon he will need to fend off questions about his years in Congress, his support for the individual mandate and the ethical lapses. He will need to address a slew of not-very conservative positions he has taken over the years on everything from TARP to cap-and-trade to illegal immigration. Frankly, he’s been to the left of most of the GOP field on a number of issues.

Rubin also extensively quotes some reader comments, here. Some are rather devastating, such as reasons 4 and 5 from a longer list from somebody named ChrisFord:

Many people remember him as so personally dislikable and intemperate in the 90s he was rejected out of hand for a Presidential spot in 1996 and 2000. That unpopularity lingers, outside Republican ranks, showing him far behind Obama in getting the moderate and independent vote.  Outside the policy wonk area, Newt has shown horrible executive and organizational skills. He has raised little money, despite all his inside the Beltway connections, and his whole staff quit on him last summer over his conduct.

Actually, Rubin had a trifecta of hard-on-Gingrich posts. Here’s another:

When invited to explain why he thinks Romney is merely a good manager and and not a change agent, Gingrich declined. His willingness to sign onto Perry’s notion about reducing all foreign aid to nothing didn’t show him to be a deep thinker. This is an easy applause line, the sort that Gingrich would normally say is beneath him. To be frank, the assessment of many that he “won” the debate reflects the ease with which many are beguiled by Gingrich’s professorial tone. What he says is far less impressive than how he says it.

Carter Eskew, a Democratic consultant to be sure, also hit Gingrich. And now a new e-book, by people who are seen as center to center-right, may cause him more problems.

Then again, if you are surging into first place in the polls, none of this may bother you right now. Truth is, Gingrich wouldn’t be receiving such renewed scrutiny if he hadn’t pulled off a political near-miracle by coming back from the political dead. It seems somebody forgot to put a stake through his heart when they buried him.