HORIST: Jennifer Rubin, the propagandist
I made the mistake of reading one of Jennifer Rubin’s columns published by the Washington Post. She writes for the publication’s “Right Turn” blog. The title is a harbinger of days of yore when Rubin was being passed off as the left-wing rag’s house conservative. It was false advertising then, and downright opinion fraud today.
Rubin is as arrogant and radical as any of her colleagues at the Post. This, of course, makes her a regular contributor on Chris Mathews’ “Hardball” and Larry O’Donnell’s “Last Word” – with periodic appearance elsewhere on MSNBC’s and CNN’s most strident left-wing offerings.
She is paraded as an intellectual journalist when, in fact, Rubin is an ignorant propagandist. I say ignorant because all propagandists are devoid of intellectual curiosity and intelligent expression. They are locked into dogma and narrative-based talking-points. They neither see nor express any opinion but their own – and that is always locked into some preconceived narrative.
In defense of the many legitimate journalists offering up opinions – including me – I feel obligated to define the difference between legitimate opinion and propaganda.
The most important distinction is truth and honesty. Propagandists engage in false narrative as a means of molding public opinion. If not dealing in outright falsehoods, they will spin information where it is no longer recognizable as an accurate accounting.
In their arrogance, the Rubin’s of the media have no tolerance for alternative opinions and generally state their unsubstantiated opinions as fact. They are not open to the consideration of alternative opinions, and that is why you see them cluster on those cable news shows without anyone to raise counterpoints. Propagandists can only pontificate. The cannot debate.
Having made all these general characterizations about Rubin, I feel obligated to be more specific – to point out some of the things in her most recent column that require rebuttal. So, we shall proceed.
Rubin’s latest screed led off with the paragraph.
“With President Trump’s lies and outbursts coming at a furious pace, Republicans’ favorite excuse seems to be, ‘It’s just talk. Ignore it. What he does is important.’ They often say it with an air of condescension, as if only hysterics would get upset with the leader of the free world’s remarks. No matter how frequently the rationalization is proffered, it doesn’t become any more credible.”
This is the classic propagandist “straw man” opening – assumedly claiming what ALL Republicans are saying about the Trump’s personality, and counterclaiming, on behalf of ALL Republicans, a belief that only “hysterics” would be displeased by many of Trump’s tweets and statements.
Propagandists, like Rubin, create seemingly compelling arguments because they are simply hosting a two-sided debate in their own head and with their own built-in biases. They are not only playing on both teams, but also serving as the umpires.
Among her litany of complaints against Trump beyond his personality, Rubin highlighted the following. With the reader’s permission, — or not –I will engage in the sort of counterpoint that she abhors. In her self-described “small sampling” of the “bad things” he does. she lists the following.
1. Refusing to sanction Saudi Arabia and publicly contradicting the CIA’s findings that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.
In fact, the Trump administration has slapped sanctions on those PROVEN to be involved in the grizzly murder. The CIA report, at best, is an opinion based on assessed probability. But, the CIA has not even confirmed that. Rubin’s claim that the CIA has found bin Salaman culpable is NOT an established fact that has been confirmed in any way by the CIA. The belief that the murder could not have happened without bin Salaman’s orders or approval, is still a belief. Even high probability is short of proof. Our entire legal system is based on proof, not probability, for a good reason.
2. Engaging in a trade war with China.
Trump has repeatedly expressed his devotion to free trade but has used tariffs to force it. He is fighting against the anti-free trade activities of China, Europe and our American neighbors to the north and south. Trump seems to have already won the latter two trade battles (hardly a war). The tariffs on Chinese goods are having the desired impact on the Middle Kingdom by slowing down its economy. China is a tougher egg to crack because of the entrenched unfair practices with both tariffs and the purloining of intellectual property – not to mention commercial hacking, which I mentioned anyway. And how, pray tell, does Rubin propose to deal with these problems? She curses the darkness without lighting a single candle.
4. Running up the debt (and demanding more spending).
As a limited-government, fiscal conservative – a deficit/debt hawk — I am willing to give Rubin some leeway in this complaint. Her criticism relies on the acceptance of the ten-year projections of the Congressional Budget Office. Having dealt with federal budgets over many decades – to the point of testifying as an expert witness before Congress — I feel confident in advising caution in believing such ten-year forecasts. They are wrong too often to be accepted at face value. Trump and the Republicans are betting that deep – and beneficial – cuts in federal spending over time, and the improvement in federal revenues from a growing economy, will wipe out those down-the-road deficits and perhaps retire some debt. Will that strategy be successful or not, I do not know – and neither does Rubin. We need to keep in mind, however, that it is her tax and spend left-wing policies that have caused the problem and if they are able to thwart the cost cuts and slow down the economy, THEY will be responsible for making their dire predictions a reality.
4. Misusing the military as part of an election stunt to raise xenophobic fears.
Pardon my use of a bit of gutter language, but this one is pure b***sh*t – propaganda at its worst. As you read this, more than 10,000 migrants are assembling on the border. Very few of them meet asylum requirements. How do we know? Because 80 to 90 percent have failed to meet the requirements in the past. Being opposed to open borders and unrestricted growth of the undocumented class in America is NOT xenophobia (another straw man argument). We can know for certain that there are among those 10,000 a goodly number of hardened criminals and others with communicable diseases. Only a very small percentage are those oft-pictured mothers and children. (Regarding the issue of children being “gassed,” I find the parents who brought their toddlers to the fences where attempts were to be made to force entry into the United States to be guilty of child abuse. Yeah, bring your baby to a riot. What could possibly go wrong?)
5. Appointing a series of ethically challenged Cabinet members.
I can go along with some of the obvious unethical actions taken by a few appointees, but most of the media “charges” are simply piling on to build their preconceived narrative. Too many of the reported ethical lapse are things that have been done by administration officials for eons – many neither illegal or even unethical. The only people claiming much of them to be unethical are the left-wing media – propagandists, like Rubin – and former ethics advisors with a political bias. We need to separate the wheat from the chaff even as the Rubin-Rumpelstiltskins of the Fourth Estate turn chaff into wheat – and faux wheat into political gold.
6. Using his presidential powers to infringe on the First Amendment.
I’m assuming Rubin is grousing about Trump’s displeasure with the left-wing media – shared by millions of Americans if you look at the polling data on the media. He makes no secret of his contempt, but he is not entirely wrong about the obsessive unfairness and partisan partiality of major portions of the press. But Trump has done nothing … nada … to infringe or take away the rights AND privileges of the news media under the First Amendment. In fact, he has been by far the most responsive and accessible President in American history – and I often wonder why.
7. Installing an acting attorney general utterly unfit for the job and in violation of the appointments clause.
This is just more partisan … uh … you know what. (I refuse to use the vulgar word twice in one commentary.) And of course, her legal opinion on the “appointments clause” is beyond her pay grade and profession – and runs contrary to virtually all knowledgeable legal authorities. Mathew Whitaker may be an unusual choice when looked at from a historical perspective, but he is hardly “utterly unfit.” That is just nasty talk.
8. Endorsing and campaigning for Roy Moore.
Trump probably should not have – especially in retrospect. But with a razor thin majority in the Senate, it was a pragmatic political decision. Trump endorsed Moore’s opponent in the primary, which Rubin fails to take into consideration.
Rubin’s column went on to make Trump’s criticism of the Federal courts akin to an overthrow of the Judicial Branch. Trump’s complaints about the courts may be more colorful than most Presidents – at least since Andrew Jackson – but there is hardly a President who has not complained about judicial decisions – especially when slapped down for abuse of power, as Obama was on several occasions.
Think of what America might be like if President Lincoln and all those Republicans had not criticized – and fought against — such court decisions as Dred Scott and all those other pro-slavery, pro-segregation decisions of those Democrat controlled courts.
In a twist of logic, Rubin’s suggests that criticizing the courts is the characteristic of tyrants. Really? Tyrants do not criticize courts because they control them. When is the last time you head Putin, Kim or Rouhani complain about the courts in Russia, North Korea or Iran, respectively? Tyrants are the ones who punish people for criticizing the judiciary.
Trump is president of a free Republic with the constitutional right to criticize. It is the left who advances the notion of an omnipotent judiciary because they rely on the judges to impose their will by decree when our legislative bodies – accountable to we the people – will not.
One thing is very clear. Rubin is no conservative. She is not a journalist. Just another propagandist given a platform by the left-leaning media.
So, there ‘tis.