Jennifer Rubin is the author of “Right Turn,” a conservative space in the Washington Post. Some on the right question whether Rubin is a conservative, but I don’t I believe I ever have.
I was surprised, therefore, by Rubin’s latest offering. It’s a called (in the print edition) “The need for grown-ups.”
The “grown-ups” to whom Rubin refers are Theresa May, who will be Britain’s next prime minister, and Hillary Clinton. Her thesis is that the two women have the steady hands needed to pick up the wreckage wrought by Brexit and Donald Trump, respectively.
Rubin acknowledges that May and Clinton are dissimilar in some respects. Understating the obvious, she points out that May “has not been a magnet for controversy, a divisive figure or one lacking ethical ballast.”
However, Rubin continues, like May Clinton “attempt[s] to project sobriety (some would call her dull), a mastery of policy and the image of a practical pol who can reach across the aisle.” Thus, Rubin sees her as “a staid insider” who can “manage the turmoil caused by the public rebuke of elites.”
Rubin assumes (reasonably in my view) that Clinton will be elected president. Based on this assumption, she concludes that “Britain and the United States, who enjoy a special relationship. . .[are] mov[ing] in similar ways in response to similar circumstances.”
Rubin’s thesis is interesting, but badly flawed in my opinion, and certainly not conservative. First, it’s quite a stretch to view Hillary, one of the most polarizing political figures of our era, as someone who will manage turmoil. More likely, she will continue to create it. As always, her henchmen and attorneys will do the managing.
I also question the extent to which Clinton projects an image of reaching across the aisle. Sure, she occasionally talks about doing so, but so does Donald Trump — and more credibly, since Trump has taken liberal positions and given money to liberal candidates. Ever since Bernie Sanders emerged as a credible challenger, Clinton has mainly been projecting the image of reaching out to hard leftists, not Republicans.
When it comes to sobriety, Clinton has Trump beat. But when I hear her demagogic and shamelessly hypocritical attacks on Wall Street, sober isn’t a word that comes to mind. Nor did it when she pressed the Russian reset button.
The second problem with Rubin’s argument is that May and Clinton aren’t similarly situated. May’s job will be, in significant part, to manage the turmoil caused by Brexit. Clinton’s job won’t be to manage turmoil caused by Donald Trump. The tycoon has disrupted the Republican party, but has had no influence on public policy.
Clinton’s job will be to continue the transformation of America that President Obama has tried to bring about. Some steadiness will be required — she will have to pacify an increasingly demanding leftist base without making Democrats even less popular than they were during the Obama years. But her mission will bear little resemblance to May’s.
The commonality Rubin sees is restoring public confidence in elites. In any democracy, leaders will want the public to trust the members of the elite they select to run things. Beyond that, I doubt that this will be a serious part of Hillary Clinton’s mission.
In any event, she would be terrible at carrying it out, given that more than 60 percent of Americans think she’s dishonest.
I’ve noted that the Washington Post lacks a single opinion-writer (in its paper edition and, as far as I know, in its online incarnation) who has a good word to say about Donald Trump. I don’t blame any of the Post’s stable of conservatives and center-rightists for this. I have virtually nothing good to say about Trump, and I write for a conservative blog.
But the Post is a massive operation, and should be able to find a regularly-appearing columnist who speaks positively about Trump. After all, he will be the nominee of one of America’s two major political parties and will likely win the vote of at least 40 percent of the electorate and possibly a majority.
Instead, we find the Post’s house conservative writing positively about Hillary Clinton as America’s next president. “Right Turn” seems like an inappropriately named place for that.