Deep Thoughts by Jennifer Rubin.
On this episode of Deep Thoughts, Rubin, one of Jeff Bezos’ stable of Washington Post ex-conservatives, e.g. Max Boot, Rubin, Will, ponders a third party.
“If the GOP isn’t McCain’s party, why not build a new one?”
What will this McCainite party stand for?
The week of remembrance for McCain clarified that policy specifics generally are a matter of negotiation as long as one is aligned on the big things – sticking to the facts, defending our alliances, standing up to international bullies, opposing assaults on the First Amendment and bolstering the rule of law.
It doesn’t really matter what the party stands for as long we have all our virtue signaling ducks lined up in a row.
That suits Jennifer Rubin who seems to have dispensed with most of her past beliefs to fit in with the new crowd.
In two years, Rubin has gone from arguing that the “ludicrous,” “absurd” Iran deal “has to go” — and, indeed, that John Kasich was a fool for contending otherwise – to praising those who believe it must remain in place as “reasonable” “experts,” and predicting that even to decertifywould put “American credibility” at “risk.” In 2015, she wrote that “if you examine the Iran deal in any detail, you will be horrified as to what is in there.” In 2017, she characterizes this position as the “emotional” “temper tantrum” of an “unhinged president.”
When President Obama agreed to the Paris Climate Accord, Rubin left her readers under no illusions as to the scale of her disapproval. The deal, she proposed, was “ephemeral,” “a piece of paper,” “a group wish,” a “nonsense” that would achieve “nothing.” That the U.S. had been made a party to a covenant so “devoid of substance,”… At least it did until President Trump took America out of it, at which point adhering to the position she had theretofore held became a “senseless act,” a “political act,” “a dog whistle to the far right,” and “a snub to ‘elites’” that had been calibrated to please the “climate-change denial, right-wing base that revels in scientific illiteracy”
So this party will have no firm beliefs of any kind, except in a conviction that facts (some facts, somewhere) matter and something about international alliances and standing up to bullies.
And the rule of law. Someone’s rule of law.
We sort ourselves by political ideology, but in practice, ideology does not carry the day.
It certainly doesn’t for Rubin.
It’s the values one holds that determines the organizing principles and policy choices for a party (e.g., for or against international leadership, for or against lessening income inequality).
But if you don’t actually believe in anything except vague virtue signaling, how can you have any values? Rubin uses “values” in the lefty sense, as political trajectories, rather than in the conservative sense, as marks of character and virtue. Paradoxically, she uses a lefty idea of values to eulogize McCain even when that runs counter to the burst of character messaging built around the funeral.
Well, you say, third parties cannot win. Listen, nothing in the last two-plus years in American politics has been normal or predictable. No one knows which direction the Democratic Party will go in 2020. (Yes, it could be the inheritor of the McCain tradition.)
Left turn up ahead.
By 2020, Jennifer Rubin will be claiming that she’s backing Bernie Sanders or Kamala Harris or Josef Stalin’s corpse as a McCain Republican.
Maybe Trump’s presidency will be long gone in 2020 and the GOP will return to the days when people like McCain, former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the late congressman Jack Kemp, R-N.Y., and former Sen. Howard Baker, R-Tenn., among others, filled the ranks of presidential contenders.
Who’s up for a bunch of politicians who lost presidential elections and primaries by standing for nothing (and one of whom conducted outreach to the Nation of Islam?)
Just imagine a third party with the magnetic appeal of… Jeb Bush.