[Posted by Karl]
Dear Govs. Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal; Sens. Jon Kyl, Marco Rubio and Jim DeMint; and Reps. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and Mike Pence (R-Ind.):
*** The voters in their infinite wisdom have just given a huge boost to perhaps the only GOP candidate who could shift the spotlight from President Obama to himself, alienate virtually all independent voters, lose more than 40 states and put the House majority in jeopardy.
So how about it? One of you can run yourself. Or you can instead collectively get behind a not-Gingrich candidate. But really, if you are to have a Republican Party to lead one day in the future, you can’t very well do nothing.
My own view is that any one of you would be preferable as a candidate to Newt Gingrich, as would either Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney…
Rubin’s agenda here is typically transparent. Although styled as a “Anyone but Newt” plea, Ron Paul is implictly eliminated and NJ Gov. Chris Christie gets a pass because he has endorsed Mitt Romney. Indeed, she’s not stupid enough to believe any of her targets could plausibly enter the race at this point; her piece is merely a plea for Romney endorsements.
Although generally critical of Rubin’s modus operandi (note she was equally critical of Romney to boost McCain in 2008), I previously kinda-sorta defended her, arguing conservatives disporortionately attacked her work because her prominent position at the WaPo presents a skewed view of the Right to a mass audience. However, the problems with Rubin run deeper and beyond the merits of her argument.
The fact that Rubin’s diagnosis of the Romney campaign is that it lacks enough establishment endorsement says much about Rubin as a thinker, not much of it good. Those who do not read my work regularly should know upfront that I find the amount of venom spewed by some in the ongoing RINO/TruCon argument on the Right to be tedious. It’s an argument that leads both sides to make arguments that simply have no empirical support. Rubin is pretty clearly on the RINO side of that dispute and for the purposes of this post, I do not hold it against her.
However, Rubin’s analysis of the campaign – i.e., Romney needs more endorsements, Romney needs to attack Newt (as though he hasn’t), Newt’s populism can be easily dismissed — is dull-witted, even when she has a point. The TruCon perspective is so (to use the Newtian term) fundamentally illegitimate to Rubin that it must be denied or crushed — as though there are not political consequences which would follow. The populism surging on both the Right and Left in the wake of the Wall Street meltdown and subsequent Obama malaise may not be an unalloyed good, but the lesson of South Carolina is it is one of the biggest obstacles to a Romney nomination and his supporters ignore or mock it at their peril.
Romney’s skid — both in SC and national polls — coincided with renewed attacks on Romney’s image as a fatcat financier. However much Rubin — or I — may find those attacks wrong or unfair in many cases, it was obvious to everyone that such attacks would come. Well, obvious to everyone except Camp Romney (including Rubin, apparently). Rubin’s blog over the past few days has been an echo of the the flailing Romney campaign, stuck in denial that Romney should have been better prepared and running a more competent campaign (especially as competence is what Romney is selling).
As someone who has catalogued Newt’s flaws as a candidate , noted that he is an idiosyncratic revolutionary in ways which may be unconservative and found his attacks on the courts to be over-the-top, I should be the sort of person to whom Rubin’s views might appeal. But if her dismissal of large factions of the movement were not offensive enough, Rubin seems unable to express that dismissal in any manner other than disingenuous condescension. Her agenda is transparent, but she seems to think she’s cleverly cloaking it in pieces like today’s “open letter.” I think even those who disagree with Rubin more than I do would at least respect her more if she honestly wrote that she thinks Mitt is the only electable candidate in the race and that the entire weight of the establishment needs to publicly destroy Newt Gingrich this very minute. Her disingenous attempts at subtlety make her sound like The Girl Who Cried Newt — even if she’s right, she’s bound to be ignored.