Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post imagines, for reasons that aren't immediately clear, what would have happened at last week's debate had President Obama, the Democrat, spent the last four years governing as a Republican in a make-believe Washington that isn't hamstrung by intractable, reflexive partisanship.
Let's mull over an alternate history of the Obama administration. Beginning with the stimulus, let's say Obama seizes control of the agenda from Congress. He dispenses with non-stimulative wish-list items and includes a number of Republican ideas, including shovel-ready defense jobs. When the omnibus spending bill comes along full of earmarks, he vetoes it. He doesn't wait to set up a debt commission. It is selected and completes its work in 2009 (not 2010). Obama embraces Simpson-Bowles and gets its debt plan, including tax reform, through Congress over the objections of hard-liners on both sides.
As a result, no tea party movement comes into being, there is no credit downgrade and the Democrats hold the House in 2010. Obama then works on health-care reform for the non-poor and non-seniors, coming up with a deal to which some, but certainly not a majority of, Republicans sign onto. He takes the Bush comprehensive immigration plan from 2007 and gets that passed as well.
Now, imagine what the debate would be like. What would Mitt Romney (if he were still the nominee in our parallel universe) have to complain about?
So had Obama done things Jennifer Rubin likes, then Jennifer Rubin would have been happy. That's top-shelf analysis. A feather in your cap, Washington Post. Never mind the fact that much of what she wrote is wrong, ahistorical, or outright fantastical.
Washington Post political blogger Jennifer Rubin doesn't think much of today's jobs report, which showed 114,000 jobs added in September and the unemployment rate dropping to 7.8 percent. Under the headline "This is no jobs recovery," Rubin writes:
Consider that if labor force participation had held even since January (when it was 8.3 percent), the jobless rate would be 8.4 percent. If the job participation rate were the same as when Barack Obama took office, the rate would be 10.7 percent. The broader U-6 rate (unemployed plus total employed part time for economic reasons) held steady at 14.7 percent. Obama can spin the numbers anyway he likes, but this is not an economic "recovery" in a meaningful sense. We are adding fewer jobs on average per month than we did last year (143,00 vs. 153,000).
If any of those talking and data points look familiar, that's because they also appeared in the press statement Mitt Romney's campaign released this morning in response to the report. Rubin actually reprinted that statement in the paragraph immediately following the one above, as if to reinforce their similarities:
The Romney campaign's initial statement summed up the general reaction on the right: "This is not what a real recovery looks like. We created fewer jobs in September than in August, and fewer jobs in August than in July, and we've lost over 600,000 manufacturing jobs since President Obama took office. If not for all the people who have simply dropped out of the labor force, the real unemployment rate would be closer to 11%. The results of President Obama's failed policies are staggering - 23 million Americans struggling for work, nearly one in six living in poverty and 47 million people dependent on food stamps to feed themselves and their families. The choice in this election is clear. Under President Obama, we'll get another four years like the last four years. If I'm elected, we will have a real recovery with pro-growth policies that will create 12 million new jobs and rising incomes for everyone."
This isn't "analysis." Rubin's just passing along and endorsing the Romney campaign message. She's a Washington Post blogger with the job description of a Romney surrogate.
Right-wing media are reviving the "death panels" lie in reaction to Mitt Romney's criticism of a health-care advisory board during the first presidential debate. In fact, that board, established under the 2010 health care reform law, is forbidden from rationing health care, and Romney's own health care reform in Massachusetts includes a similar unelected board.
Washington Post political blogger and de facto Mitt Romney surrogate Jennifer Rubin has posed some questions that she thinks should be asked of President Obama during the upcoming debates. Harnessing illogic and leaning on right-wing mythology, she wants the president to admit that his record on preventing terrorist attacks is worse than George W. Bush's, because there were no terrorist attacks on the U.S. under Bush after September 11, 2001.
No seriously. Here's the question she wants Obama to answer:
After Sept. 11, 2001, there were no terrorist attacks on the United States, but during your administration there have been the jihad-inspired Fort Hood massacre and the killing of four Americans in Libya, so isn't your anti-terror record worse than Bush's?
So Obama has to answer for Ft. Hood and the Benghazi attacks, but Bush gets a pass on the worst terrorist attack in American history. And when you neatly excise that horrific failure of intelligence and preparedness from the Bush terrorism ledger, Bush finds himself with a spotless record (the anthrax attacks, LAX shooting, DC sniper shootings, and attacks on various diplomatic personnel during the Bush years apparently don't count either).
The question refutes itself and evinces the sort of kneejerk partisanship and lack of seriousness that one would expect to find on a right-wing message board, and not under a Washington Post byline.
Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin is defending Romney's attacks on President Obama over the deadly assaults on U.S. diplomatic personnel in Libya, writing that Romney's position is drawing support from "conservative foreign policy hawks."
Conservative foreign policy hawks, outraged at the media's circle-the-wagons reaction to the attacks on two embassies, are speaking out in defense of Mitt Romney.
Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton tells Right Turn: "The perception of American weakness that provided the foundation for these attacks is largely because of Obama administration mistakes and lack of resolve. A repetition of 1979 in Tehran is nor fetched, especially given the weakness of Obama's statement this morning." He dismisses the media storyline as pure boosterism: "The press criticism of Romney's statement is so clearly at the administration's behest that they are giving lapdogs a bad name."
John Bolton is, of course, a Romney campaign surrogate. So the fact that he's defending Romney isn't exactly surprising.
Rubin also notes that a pair of American Enterprise Institute scholars are also rallying to Romney's side, as is Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). But they remain in the distinct minority, as many prominent Republicans are showing reluctance to echo Romney's attacks on the president.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is facing a torrent of criticism from Democrats, tax analysts, and even a stray conservative or two over the lack of specifics in his tax proposals. But as per usual, there is one person who's standing by Romney, ready to fabricate any excuse she can in defense of the GOP candidate: Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, who is defending Romney's lack of detail by arguing (falsely) that President Obama doesn't have a tax plan.
Romney finds himself in this situation after both he and running mate Paul Ryan appeared on Sunday morning news shows and repeatedly declined to identify the tax loopholes they'd close to pay for the steep tax cuts their plan would put in place.
Rubin, who recalibrates her opinion on the specificity of Romney's tax plan depending on how it better serves Romney's interest, argues today that Romney's level of detail is less important than Obama's alleged failure to release a tax plan:
The media have accused Romney of being nonspecific about his tax plan. (At least he has both an individual and corporate one; the president does not.) He explained: "I can tell you that people at the high end, high-income taxpayers, are going to have fewer deductions and exemptions. Those -- those numbers are going to come down. Otherwise, they'd get a tax break. And I want to make sure people understand, despite what the Democrats said at their convention. I am not reducing taxes on high-income taxpayers. I'm bringing down the rate of taxation, but also bringing down deductions and exemptions at the high end so the revenues stay the same, the taxes people pay stay the same. Middle-income people are going to get a break."
This won't fly with the media (the same people who never ask Obama where his tax plan is or where his entitlement reform plans are), which will continue to press him for details.
For the moment, let's set aside the spectacle of someone with a Washington Post byline criticizing the media for wanting too much detail. The assertion that President Obama has not released a tax plan is flatly untrue.
If you paid attention to the political commentary leading up to Bill Clinton's speech last night at the Democratic National Convention, you might have noticed an odd phenomenon: Republicans and conservatives wistfully pining for the Clinton years. Why, 14 years after enthusiastically cheering on his impeachment, did conservatives suddenly warm to the 42nd president? Because they saw an opportunity to attack President Obama by unfavorably comparing his record to Clinton's. But now that Clinton's "rousing" endorsement of the president is on the books, the same conservatives who were singing Clinton's praises have reverted to type.
Case in point: Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin. Yesterday afternoon, Rubin wrote a post positing "the danger" for Obama in having Clinton speak on his behalf at the convention. Among those "dangers," according to Rubin, was that Obama doesn't share Clinton's authenticity and record of accomplishment:
On a personal level, Clinton was a deal-maker, a compromiser, a welfare reform signer, a budget balancer and never, ever remote or haughty. To the contrary, he perfected the affectation that he was one of us. Clinton is the un-Obama, the guy who worked with a Republican Congress and didn't alienate or demonize business. The Republicans are going to be in hog heaven splicing Clinton's language and accomplishments together with Obama's language and record.
Put differently, Hillary couldn't deify Bill like Michelle did for her husband, but neither can Michelle honestly brag about her husband's accomplishments the way Hillary could for Bill (I mean if she weren't in China, far, far away.)
And finally, Clinton is, alas, the past. Here is some scary math (if you are middle aged). A 25 year-old voter today was born in 1987.What he does recall of the Clinton years is probably the impeachment and Monica Lewinsky years. I hate to say it (because we're not so far behind), but Clinton is old and his history is now three presidential terms away. Nostalgia is not "Forward," not a reason to sign up for four more years of a failing president. You can agree with Clinton's message and also recognize Obama isn't the president who is capable of restoring the middle class, bringing down unemployment, etc.
Deal-maker, compromiser, "one of us" -- high praise indeed!
Then Clinton gave his speech. And Rubin had a change of heart.
From the September 2 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin argues with something approximating good faith that Clint Eastwood's performance at the Republican National Convention last night has become a positive for Mitt Romney:
Rattled and bitter that they could not knock the Romney-Ryan ticket off-message, the Obama team and its allies in the blogosphere fixated on Clint Eastwood. Listen, I was there and it was darn weird. But at times it was funny and devastating in its dismissal of the president's excuses. And in clips and sound bites the day after the live performance, the oddness is diminished and the punch lines seem more biting. In simple terms, the movie icon encapsulated the message of the convention: If someone is doing a bad job, you have to fire him.
Eastwood apparently so annoyed the egomaniacal president that the leader of the Free World felt compelled to hit back via Twitter ("this seat is taken") at the movie star. Talk about losing your presidential aura. Empty chair = Obama is now a powerful association. Will the chair be in ads?
In this, as in so many other artificial kerfuffles, the media's feigned outrage only serves Romney's purpose. Now everyone is familiar with Eastwood's cracks, and the conversation has taken the place of any criticism of the two nominees' speeches.
Here's the logic, if you can follow it:
Eastwood goes on stage at the convention minutes before the Republican nominee accepts his nomination and holds a baffling "conversation" with the invisible president he imagines is sitting next to him, and this is "funny and devastating" and this doesn't reflect poorly on Romney whatsoever.
But an oblique reference to this bizarre spectacle from the president's campaign Twitter account means Obama lost his "presidential aura."
In an attempt to shield Mitt Romney's campaign from criticism that many of its claims against the Obama administration are based on falsehoods, conservative media have resorted to attacking fact-checkers, accusing them of liberal bias or of "shilling" for the Obama campaign. This is in keeping with the position of the Romney campaign, which has said, "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers."
Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post thinks the Romney-Ryan campaign has been exquisitely detailed in their explanations of their economic policies. And this puts her in rare company, since even the Romney-Ryan campaign says they're purposefully avoiding detailed discussions of the ideas they have in store for the country.
Writing on her Post blog this morning, Rubin gave the Republican ticket a high-five for their ability to "explain their plans" for Medicare and the economy:
Romney has his whiteboard to explain Medicare. Ryan has his charts and PowerPoint slides. They really can explain their plans and do the math. In this reality-based company, the president (who thinks ATMs cause unemployment) is out of his element. Hence, the resort to increasingly nasty language. If he had good answers for these questions, he might not be descending into the political sewer. Unfortunately for him, there isn't a chart that can explain how higher taxes are going to make our economic outlook rosier. The math just doesn't work.
"Do the math." Interesting choice of words, given that earlier this week, Paul Ryan told Brit Hume point-blank that they haven't been doing any math:
HUME: But what about [budget] balance?
RYAN: Well I don't know exactly when it balances because -- I don't want to get wonky on you but we haven't run the numbers on that specific plan yet.
Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin has had it with busybody journalists pressing Mitt Romney to provide details for the policies he would implement as president:
The latest media obsession (or is it an Obama campaign talking point?) is to demand Mitt Romney explain how his budget and entitlement ideas differ from those Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). When he declines, the media screams, "Evasion!"
Why on earth would Romney answer that, and, more important, does anyone care? If the media is really interested in a compare and contrast exercise they can do their own analysis or ask some staffers. Romney, of course, is running at the top of the ticket, and both Romney and Ryan are running on Romney's agenda. All Romney need do is explain what HE is for and how that differs from the president's plans. Is there any voter who will decide to vote for or against Romney because of deviations from the plan his VP has proposed? That would be a first.
The details separating Romney's and Ryan's budget plans are moot, she argues, since the two agree on the "basic framework:"
The media might have a point if Ryan had criticized Romney's plans or if his own plans were vastly different from Romney's. But in basic framework there is no difference between the two. They both want to lower tax rates and expand the base. Both Ryan and Romney want to block grant and reform Medicaid. Both favor a premium-support plan for Medicare. In short, they are in sync on every significant fiscal issue, and Ryan has agreed to be Romney's VP.
It was to be expected that Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post's resident champion of all things Mitt Romney, would be enthused at Romney's selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, but her blog post this morning on the relationship between Ryan and Romney is an embarrassment for the paper. It's stuffed with so much pixie-dust-and-rainbows nonsense about the new VP nominee that it reads less like the analysis of a Washington Post political blogger and more like terrible fan fiction.
To wit, Rubin offers this observation on Ryan's attitude towards debt and deficits:
Early on (before George W. Bush left office) Ryan saw the looming debt crisis and the consequences of fiscal irresponsibility if new policies weren't adopted. In 2011, many conservatives, primarily at conservative think tanks and publications, hoped Ryan would be the standard bearer of those ideas as a presidential contender.
"Early on" in this context deliberately excludes 2001-2008, when the Bush administration was busily enacting the policies that not only erased the Clinton-era surpluses but also exploded the debt and the deficit. According to Rubin's own newspaper, Bush's policy initiatives -- the tax cuts (which weren't paid for), the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (which weren't paid for), the Medicare prescription drug benefit (which wasn't paid for), etc. -- were the major factors driving the increase in debt.
Paul Ryan voted for the tax cuts. He voted for the wars. He voted for the prescription drug benefit. So what Rubin is saying is that Ryan was "early" to recognize the consequences of the Bush administration's "fiscal irresponsibility" after voting for the fiscally irresponsible policies.
Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, last seen warning everyone not to take at face value unproven reports on Mitt Romney's tax policies, takes at face value an unproven report from the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz saying that a new National Intelligence Estimate shows Iran "has made surprising, significant progress toward military nuclear capability."
Rubin allows that this is unverified and that there might not actually be a new NIE, but even if there isn't, she argues, Obama's Iran policy has nonetheless failed:
Whether there is a new NIE report or not, no responsible policymaker thinks the 2007 NIE is accurate. If not a new NIE, then the leaking of a purported new NIE will have the effect of increasing pressure on the Obama administration, which has yet to concede that sanctions haven't done what they were designed to do, namely force Iran to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions.
Foreign policy experts can debate whether a sanctions strategy was flawed from its inception, incorrectly assessing the motivations of the Iranian regime, or they can debate whether the execution of sanctions policy (too slow, too porous) was to blame. But we are more than 3 1/2 years into the Obama administration, and Iran is much closer to its goal than at the start. By any reasonable measure, the Obama approach has been a failure, whatever the NIE report might say.
So Obama's Iran policy is a failure, regardless of what the intelligence says, or if the intelligence even exists.
Right-wing media are accusing the Tax Policy Center of bias following its analysis that Mitt Romney's tax plan would cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans while raising them for lower- and middle-income Americans. But conservative media previously touted TPC as nonpartisan and experts agree that TPC's work is unassailable.