Jennifer Rubin

The Chris Christie Show (Epilogue)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), at left, joins Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump during a press event at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, on Super Tuesday, 1 March 2016.  Christie, who suspended his own presidential campaign in February, has been widely ridiculed for endorsing Trump.

“Christie perhaps fancied himself as Trump’s VP or attorney general. If he did, he was not thinking clearly. To begin with, it is less and less likely with each passing day that Trump will ever become president. Moreover, Christie himself has so soiled his reputation that it is doubtful he would ever be confirmed for a Cabinet post.”

Jennifer Rubin

It is true, of course, Jennifer Rubin is one I pick on. It is also true the right-wing blogger, perhaps for the sake of having a Washington Post credential, sometimes turns up on the editorial page of a local newspaper here or there, and this aspect of reality can actually be problematic. On other days, something about easy entertainment goes here. Or something like that. To wit, Tacoma readers got this bit of analysis on Tuesday:

Since New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has endorsed Donald Trump, he has been:

• Humiliated by video showing Trump ordering him onto the plane and telling him to “go home.”

• Condemned by his former finance co-chair Meg Whitman. (“The governor is mistaken if he believes he can now count on my support, and I call on Christie’s donors and supporters to reject the governor and Donald Trump outright. I believe they will. For some of us, principle and country still matter.”)

• Excoriated for his disastrous TV interview on Sunday. Phrases like “train wreck,” “off the rails” and “disaster” were used to describe his appearance.

Rubin is at her best when addressing conservatives about Republican politics, which in turn sounds reasonable enough; her purpose in posing as some manner of journalist is to help Republicans get elected, and her invocation of a fairly obvious title, “Chris Christie is now ruined”, is the sort of thing we might quibble with only to wonder at the word “now”.

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Something About Obama, Something About Putin (Jung on Rye Remix)

U.S. President Barack Obama (left) and iconic closet homosexual Vladimir Putin (background).

Narrative counts.

Steve Benen offers the setup:

By late 2014, Republican affection for Russian President Vladimir Putin was on the wane. After months of gushing praise for the autocratic leader, American conservatives saw Putin struggling and isolated, prompting his GOP fan club in the United States to fall quiet.

That is, until a few months ago, when the Russian president deployed forces to Syria, rekindling the American right’s love. Republican White House hopefuls once again praised Putin’s bold “leadership,” as did like-minded pundits. The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin argued, “In taking this action just days after meeting with President Obama, Putin is delivering one more finger in the eye of a president whom he continues to out-wit and out-muscle.”

Remind me, how’s that working out for the Russian president?

The punch line, of course, being: About as well as you would expect.

And, well, you know me; any chance to pick on Jennifer Rubin. The title of her October entry―and I shite thee not―is, “Breaking the feckless meter on Syria”.

Still, though, this thing with Republicans and Putin is even more embarrassing than the bit about a young Jung finding a dirty thrill in his admiration for the maestro Freud.

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Benen, Steve. “Obama again gets the last laugh against Putin”. msnbc. 11 December 2015.

Rubin, Jennifer. “Breaking the feckless meter on Syria”. The Washington Post. 1 October 2015.

The Rand Paul Show (Picking Up His Balls)

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff on April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa. The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, a conservative Christian organization, hosted 9 potential contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nominations at the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“Perhaps the time has come to examine whether or not governmental recognition of marriage is a good idea, for either party.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

Because, you know, gay marriage is just the last straw.

No, seriously. The one and only Rand Paul:

The government should not prevent people from making contracts but that does not mean that the government must confer a special imprimatur upon a new definition of marriage.

Perhaps the time has come to examine whether or not governmental recognition of marriage is a good idea, for either party.

Since government has been involved in marriage, they have done what they always do — taxed it, regulated it, and now redefined it. It is hard to argue that government’s involvement in marriage has made it better, a fact also not surprising to those who believe government does little right.

Strangely, the Kentucky junior has no real grasp of political optics. We have heard this sort of talk before in Oklahoma, or as Mr. Paul noted in his special to Time, Alabama. But when it comes to the proposition that if you can’t make all the rules you’ll just pick up your balls and go home and pout, is that really a caliber of behavior we might reasonably describe as presidential?

There really isn’t any more time to adjust; Americans have had nearly two decades to accustom themselves to same sex marriage, and if they chose to spend those years bawling and stomping and fighting and pouting, why should everyone else have to wait even longer just so they can find new ways to pitch tantrums?

Is Mr. Paul capable of comprehending the optics, understanding just how ridiculous he looks striking this pose? Well, okay, of course he doesn’t; this is a guy who has trouble grasping the basics of plagiarism.

Stupid and petulant is no condition for mounting a presidential bid.

Oh. Right. Clown car, all that. He trails Bush, Walker, Rubio, and Carson. Maybe that’s the problem. Given the stupid factor in effect, Mr. Paul’s terrible shitty brat routine doesn’t really stand out as extraordinary, does it?

That still doesn’t mean the self-certified ophthalmologist has a clue about political optics.

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Image note: Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff on April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa. The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, a conservative Christian organization, hosted 9 potential contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nominations at the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Paul, Rand. “Government Should Get Out of the Marriage Business Altogether”. Time. 28 June 2015.

Rubin, Jennifer. “Rand Paul has another problem”. The Washington Post. 8 November 2013.

The Rick Santorum Show (Splat and Burn)

Plant workers in Cabot, Pennsylvania watch former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum declare his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.  (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

As gifts go, I’ll take a Wire show, but I really won’t complain about the Frothy Clown akwardly probing for his seat in the 2016 GOP Clown Car. Trip Gabriel drew the short straw over at the New York Times:

Rick Santorum, the runner-up in the Republican nomination race four years ago, announced his second presidential bid on Wednesday, pledging to restore a middle class “hollowed out” by government policies.

A former United States senator from rural western Pennsylvania, he appealed primarily to social conservatives four years ago. But he has donned a new mantle of economic populism, one he calls “blue-collar conservatism.”

“Working families don’t need another president tied to big government or big money,” he said, criticizing Hillary Rodham Clinton and “big business” for pro-immigration policies he said had undercut American workers.

Mr. Santorum, 57, was the surprise winner of the Iowa caucuses in 2012, thanks to evangelical Christian voters, and he went on to win 10 other states, dragging out Mitt Romney’s quest for the nomination.

Still, he has struggled to catch on this time around. He is in danger of not making the 10-candidate cutoff for the first Republican debate on Aug. 6, which will be determined by standings in national polls.

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Something About Shakespeare, Something About Kidneys

Ariel and Bernice ride along with Madame Oreille.  (Detail of frame from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, ep. 3)

More often than not, Alexandra Petri is a useful target for recreational ridicule. Still, though, nobody is without their moments. We dig ourselves holes; it sounds silly of me to note that Petri wrote a decent―hell, actually good―article, since I’m quite certain this is well within her capabilites. After all, you don’t reach the Washington Post without some skill.

Once you have the job, that’s when you can sit back and cruise on a vapid pretense of wit.

See what I did, there?

Oh, come on. At least she isn’t Jennifer Rubin.

Right. Petri:

America gets more assurances of unconditional Love and Approval in the course of a single candidate speech than many WASP children get in the course of their entire childhoods, and we turn out okay, although years later we bring this fact up indignantly during Thanksgiving dinner and start sobbing for no reason. My point is: America does not need this.

But the people who run for president, and the people behind them, beg to differ. The people who listen to speeches, they seem to feel, will absolutely wither up and die without hearing how remarkable the American way of life is, and how special the American dream has proved to be. If that does not come up at some point in the speech, paired neatly with fears for Our Children, these fragile listeners will run from the hall in tears and you will lose their votes for good.

Otherwise why do they insist on doing this?

She does move on to Shakespeare and kidney transplants, but her headline, “Rand Paul and Ted Cruz secretly gave the same speech” not only reads well, but proves true.

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Last Month’s List o’Links

Transgender pride

Notes from the Culture Wars:

Kevin Thornton, or, queer alt country on being gay and forty in the twenty-first century. (HuffPo)

Paige Lavender on Texas and the transgendered. (HuffPo)

Tresa Baldas tries to explain the unfortunate intersection of compassion, hatred, and your doctor. (Detroit Free Press)

Sam Levine, and this time it’s Kentucky and the transgendered. (HuffPo)

Cavan Sieczkowski on Freud on homosexuality. (HuffPo)

• Two reports, from Tammy Mutasa and Casey Weldon on a die-in demonstration at Fountain Square, Cincinnati, calling attention to violence against transgendered. (WLWT, WCPO)

• Education? State? Justice? Jennifer Bendery reports that the transgendered also have the Department of Defense on their side. (HuffPo)

• At this point, Michael Tomasky’s piece tying social conservative politics to the precipitous decline spectacular crash of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential ambitions to … Jerry Falwell. (The Daily Beast)

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Not Surprising

Screengrab of BET.com, 28 October 2014, showing something about the odd contrast between grave news and pop-culture advertising.

Sometimes, well, it just isn’t surprising. To wit, we are not surprised

• … that a small-time Republican state legislator in New Hampshire plagiarized a speech against marriage equality two years ago.

• … that a small-time Republican state legislator now running for Secretary of State is a Birther, and now she doesn’t want to talk about it.

The lovable Jennifer Rubin just hates  President Obama.• … Jennifer Rubin will take the word of the Iranian government if it means she can criticize President Obama by doing so.

• … the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer was “leaked”.

• … that more people are dead after another shooting.

• … or that Seattle has nothing on Chicago when it comes to deadly violence.

And we might also mention that we are not in the least surprised at the amount of unrelated various video websites want us to watch when we click in to read a news story. What’s that? An important news story? Here, we’ll autoplay “Chris Spencer’s Top 5”. Obviously, we’re out of the loop: Who is Chris Spencer? (Wait, wait, don’t tell me. Please.) Why do I care? (Again, I don’t.) And you’re seriously telling me there’s a show called Real Husbands of Hollywood? (Just stop already.) And, no, we’re not really singling out BET; this just happened to be the stark contrast at hand.

To the other, neither will we be surprised if we don’t try a “Not Surprising” list again in the future. These things just should not be thrown together on a moment’s notice.

A Fallacy in Motion

The President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Charles Lipson is a walking fallcy, a professor of political science who prefers to use that credential that he might promote crackpot theses that ignore the details. To wit:

Charles LipsonWhen presidents become unpopular, they are no longer welcome on the campaign trail. They’re trapped in Washington, watching their party abandon them. It happened to Lyndon B. Johnson, whose presidency collapsed amid protests over Vietnam. He left Washington only to visit his Texas ranch and assorted military bases, where he gave patriotic speeches to silent battalions. Richard Nixon, drowning in Watergate, was confined to Camp David and a few foreign capitals, where he was greeted as a global strategist. Jimmy Carter, crushed by the Iranian hostage crisis and a bad economy, stopped traveling beyond the Rose Garden.

Now, the same oppressive walls are closing in on President Barack Obama. He is welcome only in the palatial homes of Hollywood stars and hedge-fund billionaires or the well-kept fairways of Martha’s Vineyard.

Well-written, indeed, if it was listed as fiction. But it’s not, and that means it’s a fraud.

The simple fact is that President Obama is avoiding states where Democrats are running competitively but against the odds. To wit, why would Alison Lundergan Grimes want President Obama onstage with her? She’s running against one of the most powerful Republicans in the country, Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader who has so botched his handling of the Senate Republican Conference that Grimes can even run close.

Lipson’s criticism about palatial homes is unusual; most political science professors would suggest it very unwise to ignore rich donors during an election season, but Lipson would prefer you believe otherwise because it helps his poisonous narrative. Christopher Keating noted that Obama’s second trip to Connecticut in a week—a scheduled rally—was cancelled because, well, he’s the president and has a job to do. You know, ebola and all that. The palatial home Lipson refers to would appear to be in Greenwich, where Obama spoke at a fundraiser for Gov. Malloy.

The president is also welcome in Wisconsin, hoping to boost support for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke.

One wonders what the political science would say of someplace like Kansas? Would the president’s presence in the Sunflower State help or hurt Democratic gubernatorial challenger Paul Davis? Given that the incumbent Republican presently has the slightest edge in an otherwise dead heat (less than a percent), the question might be how Gov. Sam Brownback found himself in such a weakened position that he must actually face the possibility of losing. Then again, it’s not much of a question: Brownback and his Republican allies have wrecked the states finances.

In that context, it’s hard to lose faith in Obama if one never had any.

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An Interesting Analysis

Detail of cartoon by Laurie Rollitt for New York Times, 21 October 2014.

Cynicism in politics:

Political analysts keep urging the Republican Party to do more to appeal to Hispanic voters. Yet the party’s congressional leaders show little sign of doing so, blocking an immigration overhaul and harshly criticizing President Obama for his plan to defer deportation for undocumented migrants.

There’s a simple reason that congressional Republicans are willing to risk alienating Hispanics: They don’t need their votes, at least not this year.

Republicans would probably hold the House — and still have a real chance to retake the Senate — if they lost every single Hispanic voter in the country, according to an analysis by The Upshot.

Such a thing would never happen, of course, but the fact that the Republicans may not need a single Hispanic vote in 2014 says a good deal about American politics today.

(Cohn)

Say what you will about the potential cynicism of Nate Cohn’s analysis for The New York Times; electoral politics is a numbers game.

No wonder Jennifer Rubin is so anxious to poodle for the GOP on the immigration point.

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Cohn, Nate. “Why House Republicans Alienate Hispanics: They Don’t Need Them”. The Upshot. 21 October 2014.

Is Jennifer Rubin Sinister or Merely Stupid?

Jennifer Rubin, right-wing blogger for The Washington Post.

Even the simplest of differences can create false appearances. For instance: Is Jennifer Rubin sinister or stupid?

In the end, though, the difference is one of valences. Sinister forgives stupidity in some cases for the fact of reasonable execution, but even the sinister is cultivated around a germ of ignorance.

In the first place, there is Rubin’s arrival at The Washington Post. Eric Alterman of The Nation noted last year—

It is no secret to anyone that conservatives have conducted a remarkably successful, decades-long campaign to undermine the practice of honest, aggressive journalism with trumped-up accusations of liberal bias. They have made massive investments of time and money in groups and individuals devoted to “working the refs,” and these have yielded significant ideological dividends—which, as might be predicted, have only encouraged them to keep it up.

—as a preface to his discussion of Jennifer Rubin as “The Washington Post’s Problem”. She was the third in a string of quota hires made as part of an attempt to deliberately throw their political coverage rightward in order to fend off attacks of being too liberal. Ben Domenech, their first hire for the position, turned out to be a sharp-tongued plagiarist, which was kind of embarrassing for the Post, as you might imagine. Next they plucked Dave Weigel from Reason.com, and one can reasonably say the Reason franchise has never been the same. Yet for all the quality of this pick, Post editors deemed him unsuitable for the task after realizing that he just wasn’t conservative enough. So the newspaper turned to rabid right-winer Jennifer Rubin, and the disaster of her term as a staff blogger really is hard to describe. Alterman’s review for The Nation is an excellent read, but it is also something of a headache insofar as truth is stranger than fiction and the twists and turns of Jennifer Rubin’s greatest contribution to our political discourse would seem to have something to do with mainstreaming hardline rightist tinfoil in major news media. After the 2012 election, Rubin’s ability to change her story without the slightest hint of shame, or even decency, was pretty much on display for anyone to see. Simon Maloy tried to sketch the degree of self-contradiction in her coverage of the Romney loss; it isn’t pretty.

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