Jennifer Rubin’s Wrong Turn on Governor Palin’s Foreign Policy

Last November, the Washington Post hired Jennifer Rubin to replace journolister, Dave Weigel, as their “conservative” blogger. Yes, those quotation marks are needed. Many, including Newsbusters, saw this hire as a step in the right direction for the Washington Post, as Rubin replaced the unscrupulous Weigel and had a great tenure writing for the neoconservative outlet Commentary. In fact, prior to her departure from Commentary, Rubin wrote at least four lengthy pieces supporting and defending Governor Palin. Rubin wrote articles supporting Governor Palin’s non-elitism, highlighting her as a strong Tea Party voice, offering high praise for Governor Palin’s political instincts, and defending Governor Palin against those who criticized her Restoring Honor rally speech.

by Whitney Pitcher

What a difference a new employment contract makes! Rubin was announced as a new conservative commentator for the Washington Post on November 23, 2010 writing a blog called “Right Turn” and eight days later, wrote her first anti Palin screed arguing that Governor Palin was not a front runner for the GOP presidential nomination and poo pooing Governor Palin’s use of the term “death panel”–a phrase that Rubin was supportive of in her articles at Commentary. Rubin’s criticisms have become commonplace ever since as Ian, Stacy, and Doug at Conservatives4Palin have addressed in recent months.

Fast forward to today where Governor Palin’s new foreign policy hire and the news of a clear cut “Palin doctrine”, if you will, unveiled last night, and neoconservatives throughout the Beltway, like Rubin, have their proverbial panties in a wad, and for no good reason. In her latest piece today, Rubin charges that Governor Palin’s recent comments about Libya and her speech last night have Governor Palin “sounding like Obama’s liberal critics”. Then she states that this supposed shift in policy and worldview is something that ” careful observers of Palin” have picked up on.

First, Rubin charges that Governor Palin’s latest Facebook post on President Obama’s mishandling of Libya was “incoherent”and claimed that she couldn’t ascertain whether Governor Palin supported action in Libya or not. If Rubin were truly a “careful observer” of Governor Palin, as she claims, she would have remembered that Governor Palin was the first high profile political voice to call for a no fly zone in Libya in February, three weeks before President Obama went along with a UN decision to institute a no fly zone. In the supposedly incoherent post that Rubin references, Governor Palin made it very clear she supported a no fly zone, but questioned the real incoherency regarding Libya–President Obama’s actions. Governor Palin writes (emphasis mine):

Please make up your mind, Mr. President. You can’t vacillate when spending America’s human and fiscal resources in yet another foreign country without good reason. You said that Libyan leader Gaddafi has got to go. Many of us heard that as your call to action and agreed, “Okay, you’re right. He’s an evil dictator who kills his own innocent people, so enforce a no-fly zone so he can’t continue an aerial slaughter.” But then you said our mission in Libya isn’t to oust Gaddafi after all. (Or vice versa on the order or your statements. Between you and your advisers the public has been given so many conflicting statements on why we’re intervening in Libya that I apologize if I can’t keep up with the timing and rationale of your murky foreign policy positions.)

Governor Palin was quite clear that she believes that Gaddafi needs to go, which she has consistently said in interviews. What is truly incoherent is President Obama’s mission in Libya, as Governor Palin said.

Rubin then goes on to refer to Governor Palin’s speech yesterday in support of the troops in Colorado. In doing so, she relies heavily on the account of another supposed “careful observer” of Governor Palin, Politico’s Andy Barr. Politico is indeed an incessant observer of Governor Palin, but to characterize them as careful is far from the truth–biased is more like it. Barr spent so much of his piece focusing on the venue of the speech that he grossly misquoted Governor Palin’s statements claiming Governor Palin said, “we can’t undo every justice in the world” when she clearly referred to the injustice in the world.

Rubin goes on to claim that Governor Palin had an about face in her foreign policy stance, yet doesn’t articulate what those change are, other than parroting Bill Kristol in his wrong headed opposition to Governor Palin. Kristol’s rant, which Rubin heavily quotes, touts the success of the surge in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere and then infers that Governor Palin thinks that America, in her strength and leadership, needs to “back off”. This, of course, is categorically false, which Rubin would be aware of if she viewed, listened to, or read an account of the speech for herself. Governor Palin both praised the efforts in Afghanistan that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, and America’s strength in her speech (emphasis mine):

God bless all the brave men and women in our military and our intelligence services who carried out the successful mission to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice and all those who had laid the groundwork over the years to make that victory possible. The historic action that was announced last night was the result of the diligence, hard work, and character of countless American warriors who know that those who spread evil, those with murderous intentions must be contained. Those who would kill in the name of religion must be stopped.


We are not indifferent to the cause of human rights or the desire for freedom. We are always on the side of both. But we can’t fight every war. We can’t undo every injustice around the world. But with strength and clarity in those five points, we’ll make for a safer, more prosperous, more peaceful world because as the U.S. leads by example, as we support freedom across the globe, we’re going to prove that free and healthy countries don’t wage war on other free and healthy countries. The stronger we are, the stronger and more peaceful the world will be under our example.

There is nothing in those statements or anywhere in Governor Palin’ s speech where she indicates that she has walked back her support for the surge in Afghanistan and Iraq, or believes in any kind of wet noodle spined foreign policy or “Obama lite” foreign policy as Kristol and Rubin laughably claim.

Rubin’ s last “careful” observation is that Governor Palin is a now Paulian isolationist. Another wrong assertion that Rubin would not have claimed had she actually listened to Governor Palin’s speech herself. Governor Palin very clearly both denounced isolationism and called America to be a global leader in her speech (emphasis mine):

I believe that America must never retreat into isolation. The world would be less safe and less free without our leadership. And we must never forget that America has a responsibility to lead. “To whom much is given, much is expected.” We cannot be the world’s policeman granted, or the world’s ATM. But we can lead by example. By our words and, when necessary, by our actions, we must and we will remain the world’s abiding beacon of freedom.

Jennifer Rubin has proven to be an observer of Governor Palin, but a careful one she is not. As mentioned earlier, following Governor Palin’s Restoring Honor Rally speech, Rubin wrote a piece defending Governor Palin against supposed “feminists” and praising her foreign policy stances in response to a opinion piece in the New York Times. She closed that piece with this statement:

But I give the Times gals credit — they know they are losing the battle to discredit Palin. Now they need to figure out what to do about it. They might start with examining whether their agenda has as much sell as hers.

I give the Post girl credit, in her short time at the Washington Post, Rubin may not yet realize that her about face in intellectual honesty has her in a losing battle to discredit Governor Palin. She needs to figure out what to do about it. She might start with examining whether her now Palin bashing agenda has as much sell as Governor Palin’s consistent foreign policy.

Jerry Wilson has a good piece on Rubin’s article here (H/T JimR)

Updated: On a related note, HotAir has a great piece outlining Governor Palin’s foreign policy doctrine and describing the differences between that policy, the current actions in Libya, and what many have described as neoconservative actions in the past few decades.


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