Yesterday brought one of the most astonishing pieces of evidence yet of the Washington Post‘s slow-motion implosion. Apparently the Post has decided to bring Commentary‘s Jennifer Rubin on board to write a blog envisioned as a right-wing “companion to Greg Sargent’s Plum Line, though of course with its own style and blend of reporting and analysis.”
When the Post hired former Bush speechwriter and torture enthusiast Marc Thiessen as an opinion columnist, I encountered widespread disgust and some outrage among the people I talked to about the hire. Reaction to the Rubin hire, by contrast, has largely consisted of amusement and incredulous smirks. “What was Fred Hiatt thinking?” has been the question most frequently asked asked about the Post‘s hawkish editorial page chief. While the Post op-ed page still features some smart right-of-center commentary from Charles Krauthammer and George Will, Hiatt has also brought on board a number of party-line hacks like Thiessen, Bill Kristol, Michael Gerson, and now Rubin. The fact that Rubin is intended as a counterpart to Sargent is also revealing about the way that “balance” is understood in the mainstream media. Sargent certainly leans liberal, but he is also a very good reporter who breaks stories and is willing to criticize the Democrats; Rubin, by contrast, has no real experience as a reporter (as opposed to commentator) and has never met a Republican or Likud talking point she didn’t like.
The dominant feature of Rubin’s politics, of course, is her ultra-hawkish Greater Israel Zionism. She is adamantly opposed to any Israeli territorial concessions, which explains her great affection for John Hagee’s Christian Zionists, who believe that Israeli control of the entire Holy Land is necessary in order to precipitate the Rapture. While she is quick to accuse Israel’s critics of anti-Semitism, Rubin is not so fond of actually existing American Jews, whom she views as unpatriotic and insufficiently supportive of Israel.
These aspects of Rubin’s thought came to a head in her Commentary piece “Why the Jews Hate Palin,” which was almost universally denounced across the political spectrum for sloppy argumentation and trafficking in anti-Semitic stereotypes. (To briefly summarize Rubin’s arguments, The Jews hate Palin because they are a bunch of effete, overeducated, rootless cosmopolitans, averse to manual labor and military service, who therefore despise Real Americans like Palin.) “In a strikingly unified response from liberals as well as conservatives,” the Atlantic noted in a rundown of the various demolitions of Rubin’s piece, “most commentators are trashing the piece as illogical, poorly-argued, and anti-Semitic.”
Along with Israel, Rubin’s abiding passion is her hatred of Obama, whose “sympathies for the Muslim World,” she argues, “take precedence over those, such as they are, for his fellow citizens.” Ever since Obama came to prominence, she has spent several posts a day prophesying impending doom for his political fortunes. I actually came to enjoy reading her analysis during the 2008 presidential campaign — every time the McCain-Palin campaign hit another pothole, Rubin would invariably come forward with a strained explanation for why this was only an insignificant setback, and the collapse of the Obama campaign was surely right around the corner. (Like Bill Kristol, I’ve often thought that Rubin would have made an excellent Soviet agitprop officer.) Of course, in recent months Obama’s popularity has indeed sagged — a stopped clock is right twice a day and all that. But even if Obama recovers and successfully serves another six years in office, we can expect Rubin to use her perch at the Post to offer daily predictions of Obama’s impending collapse until the moment he leaves office in 2017.
While it is sad to see the continuing self-destruction of one of America’s great newspapers, I am curious to see how low they can go. David Broder is getting up in years and surely due to retire soon; could Pamela Geller be next in line for his job?