The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin had just finished speaking on a panel about the “Lessons Learned” from the 2016 election Tuesday morning when this reporter joined the line of well-wishers who were handing her business cards and asking for coffee dates.
Rubin, who has been criticized by a number of conservatives for not actually espousing conservative ideas and principles, spoke on a panel sponsored by the Niskanen Center in Washington DC about how those on the Right have “wildly exaggerated” the problems with U.S. immigration. She also said the Republican Party exhibits a “blind spot towards race,” and that it “needs a new base” after it was infiltrated by Dixiecrats with the rise of Donald Trump. Rubin was joined by Bill Kristol and Peter Wehner, who agreed the right has been corrupted by Trump primarily because of the fringe racists who became mainstream within the GOP.
Mona Charen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center who was also a panelist, said that while she finds some of the things Trump does to be in poor taste, he rose to power because he spoke to concerns that had long been ignored by President Obama and Hillary Clinton. She dismissed Kristol and Rubin’s portrait of the GOP, saying that black conservatives like Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell have been embraced and elevated by the right.
You can watch Rubin’s remarks at the Niskanen Center event in full here.
After the panel discussion had ended, I asked Rubin if she still considers herself to be conservative, to which she replied: “Yes, but I think the rest of the party has gone insane.”
When I tried to ask her what conservative principles she holds, she said that she “had to run” and turned away from me to continue walking down the aisle to greet other attendees.
Recently, Rubin critiqued Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh because he denied allegations of sexual assault made against him throughout his confirmation, which she described as “odd.” Rubin once criticized the Paris global warming deal then reversed herself when Trump agreed with her. She has also flip-flopped on immigration, tax cuts, and gun control, among other topics, in order to oppose Trump, leading a number of top conservatives to demand the Post stop calling her conservative.
Her Never Trump position has led her into a number of interesting arguments, one of which you can watch her flesh out with Bret Stephens in an Intelligence Squared debate against The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney and Federalist Publisher Ben Domenech.
Is it a big deal that Rubin walked away from me at an event? No. Does she owe an explanation to readers and viewers about why she continues to call herself conservative after publicly supporting myriad major positions diametrically opposed to conservative principles and policy? Yes.
Words are supposed to mean things. “Conservatism” refers to a specific set of ideas and principles — ones that Rubin has not espoused or championed in quite some time. It’s intellectually dishonest for her and the Washington Post to continue to call her conservative while she does and says the opposite.