Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin is fast approaching some higher plane of hackdom far enough removed from the gravitational centers of logic and sense that the fundamental laws of punditry no longer apply. This morning she joins the chorus of conservatives defending Mitt Romney's false claim at last night's debate that President Obama went on an "apology tour," arguing that Obama, in the very act of criticizing the foreign policy of his predecessor George W. Bush, was indeed "apologizing for this nation."
I will focus on two major apologies that have been deliberately and forcefully delivered by the president and/or top aides.
The first is our handling of the war on terror. Liberals don't even see that Obama's excoriating his predecessor is apologizing for this nation, but of course it is. George W. Bush wasn't acting as a private citizen, and whatever he actions he took were done in the name of the United States.
So it most certainly was an apology (often repeated) when Obama decried: "Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. ... I also believe that all too often our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight; that all too often our government trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions. Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, too often we set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And during this season of fear, too many of us -- Democrats and Republicans, politicians, journalists, and citizens -- fell silent. In other words, we went off course." That version was delivered on national TV, albeit from U.S. soil but it was a confession to be sure.
Here's a fun question: if criticizing the commander-in-chief for actions taken in the name of the United States constitutes "apologizing for this nation," then aren't people like Mitt Romney and Jennifer Rubin, who have spent the last four years doing little beyond that, serial America apologists?
And doesn't that render the title of Romney's book, No Apology, which is sharply critical of the president's foreign policy, a lie?
Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin joined the transcript truther crowd on CNN's Reliable Sources this morning, claiming that President Obama was not referring to the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi when he used the term "acts of terror" in his September 12 Rose Garden statement on the attack.
Specifically, Rubin claimed Obama's use of "acts of terror" was "not in the same paragraph with Benghazi." That is flatly untrue. The president's very next sentences were: "Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done."
Current TV host David Shuster, appearing with Rubin, tried to correct her, noting that just two sentences prior to saying "no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation," the president said: "[L]ast night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi." Rubin denied this was true even though, as the transcript shows, Shuster was right:
Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks. We mourned with the families who were lost on that day. I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed. And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi.
As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it. Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.
No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.
Keep in mind that we're several days out from the debate at which this quibbling over "acts of terror" became an issue. Rubin has had more than enough to time to read over the transcript of Obama's remarks, and she's clearly quite familiar with what it says. That raises the question as to why she's so blatantly lying and mischaracterizing the president's words.
The answer can be gleaned from a comment she made towards the end of the video above about the "acts of terror" flap: "I don't think this hurt Mitt Romney whatsoever. His campaign doesn't think it hurt Mitt Romney whatsoever." That lock-step synchronicity with the Romney campaign crystallizes the broadly held opinion of Rubin's increasingly embarrassing work for the Washington Post.
The right-wing media has claimed President Obama has no plan for the economy if re-elected. In fact, Obama has proposed numerous economic policies, including legislation that economists agree would lower unemployment and grow the economy.
After Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accepted responsibility for the security of diplomats in the wake of the deadly attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya, members of the right-wing media launched a series of sexist attacks, calling her a "doormat" and a "battered woman."
Stressing style over substance, lots of Beltway pundits teamed up with Republican partisans to push the theater criticism point that Vice President Joe Biden may have blown last night's debate with his body language. Specifically, critics are complaining he smiled and chuckled too much while Rep. Paul Ryan was speaking.
Even after CBS News' snap poll showed that Biden had scored a big win with undecided voters, pundits and Republicans suggested Biden's facial expressions, not the substance of his comments, were newsworthy.
From the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin:
And BuzzFeed's Ben Smith:
The media effort is reminiscent of when pundits and Republicans teamed up on Al Gore after his first presidential debate with George W. Bush in 2000. Back then, they pushed the line that Gore had sighed too often in response to Bush's answers. History shows that right after the debate viewers crowned Gore the winner of the face-off. But after the media's sigh initiative, Bush was perceived to have won the debate. Today, Gore's sighs are routinely referenced as debate blunders. ("Utterly insufferable," Esquire recently wrote.)
It's unlikely the press can turn Biden's strong showing into a stinging defeat, in part because the 2000 sigh episode was part of a much larger anti-Gore press push. But it's telling how seamlessly the mainstream press joined with Republican operatives to launch post-debate (style) spin targeting Biden last night and trying to tie him to Gore's performance.
From former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer:
And the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza:
In its piece, "Is Joe Biden The New Al Gore?" Politico reported that "at least among some pundits and Republican strategists: it reminded them of Al Gore's infamous sighs in the 2000 presidential debates against George W. Bush, which were enough to seriously hurt Gore's candidacy." [Emphasis added.]
Politico stressed that Gore's sighs were "universally panned by pundit" are now "remembered as one of the standout aspects of the debates that year." What's lost in that rewriting is that Gore actually won the first debate. The Associated Press reported on October 4, 2000 that Gore had won three out of four snap polls conducted that night.
Blogger Bob Somerby meticulously documented Gore's press treatment during the 2000 campaign. He recently revisited the infamous sighs:
Did George Bush win that first debate? Only after the press corps began playing videotaped loops of Gore's troubling sighs (with the volume cranked, of course).
Debates matter. But so can the media's lazy style spin.
Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post's resident Romney surrogate, is currently trumpeting an "Exclusive" alleging that Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling has been "caught doing advocacy polling on race." Rubin objects to a question in a recent PPP poll -- following last week's Daily Caller/Drudge/Hannity promotion of the 2007 Obama video -- about whether conservative media figures "want to make white people think Barack Obama hates them, or not?"
According to Rubin and "every independent or Republican pollster" she asked about the poll, the question was "shock[ing]" and over the line. By Rubin's telling: "But of course the question is one that imparts the information to the voter in the most slanted way possible. There are no questions about liberal media or bias. To ask the question is to assume that conservative media are up to make white people fear Obama."
What would lead PPP to "assume that conservative media are up to make white people fear Obama?"
Maybe it was when Glenn Beck flatly stated on Fox News that President Obama was a "racist" with "deep-seated hatred for white people or white culture."
Or perhaps it was earlier this year when Rush Limbaugh said that Obama's entire "plan" is "payback" against the "white Europeans" who "illegitimately founded" the country.
Or last year's Limbaugh rant about how Obama was "not even halfway done killing the economy" and that his economic "role model" is Robert Mugabe, who "took the white people's farms."
Before Obama was elected, Bill Sammon -- then a Fox News contributor before becoming Fox News' controversial Washington managing editor -- told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he thought Obama would lose the election because of his "own views on the white race which are, I think, fairly controversial."
In the same interview, Sammon explained, "This guy is applying for a job to run a country that is predominately white, OK? And if you are on record as expressing resentment and suspicions and antipathy towards the white race in general, that's a political problem."
One could even point to the preposterous flap over the New Black Panther Party, in which the entire conservative media -- Jennifer Rubin included -- accused the Obama Justice Department of anti-white discrimination. Rubin herself wrote in a ridiculous January 2011 blog post that the "heart of the matter" regarding the New Black Panther case was DOJ's alleged directive "not to bring cases against black defendants for the benefit of white victims."
Rubin's anger towards PPP's question would be better directed at the conservative media figures who have made it worth asking -- herself included.
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."