Conservatism today

Jennifer Rubin’s Rand Paul obsession: April edition

matt 2

, Rare Contributor

Andrew Sullivan ran the headline last week, “The Neocons Lose Their Sh*t Over Rand Paul.

He wasn’t kidding.

In the first three weeks of April, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin mentioned Rand Paul’s name more than any other political figure including President Obama.

Rubin mentioned Paul’s name 147 times from April 1-20. She only mentioned Obama 131 times (not including “Obamacare,” but just President Obama or his administration specifically).

For comparative context, she mentioned Ted Cruz 36 times, Vladimir Putin got 33 mentions, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush were mentioned 32 times each, Marco Rubio got 18 and Chris Christie was mentioned 14 times.

Last month, I reported that Rubin had mentioned Paul’s name 143 times from March 1-21. For March, this was more times than any other political figure with the exception of President Obama, at 206 times.

But in April, we see that Rubin’s focus on the tea party senator has eclipsed even that of the President of the United States.

Sullivan and others have noted that neoconservatives and other hawkish Republicans have increased their attacks on Paul relative to his success in reshaping the foreign policy debate within the GOP.

There were hardly any mentions of Paul by Rubin that were not foreign policy related.

There were no mentions of Paul’s name that were remotely favorable.

In almost every mention of Paul, Rubin repeatedly insists that the neoconservative position—a reflexively aggressive foreign policy coupled with blind faith in the National Security Agency—is the only acceptable position conservative Republicans can hold.

The substance of every Rubin headline about Paul this month was a reflection this sentiment: “Ted Cruz and Rand Paul: Opposite directions” (April 20), “Rand Paul claims ‘nuance,’ reveals incoherence on Iran” (April 16), “Rand Paul’s foreign policy extremism” (April 15), “Rand Paul gives an interview that will haunt him” (April 14), “Rand Paul is a tough sell” (April 13), “Why right-wing isolationists are losing” (April 10), “Rand Paul’s unwelcome 2009 accusations about Dick Cheney” (April 7) and “Rand Paul’s problematic views” (April 1).

In April, Rubin…

  • Insisted that, “Republicans, unlike libertarians and left-wing isolationists, generally like clarity and expect muscularity from their standard-bearers.”
  • Declared that, “The GOP has come to its senses — just in time to restore its role as the pro-defense foreign policy and to cut off another Paul.”
  • Predicted that, “every other GOP contender (in 2016) who will take issue with his foreign policy extremism, not to mention the entire Republican contingent in the Senate and most every significant conservative outlet.”
  • Warned that, “He is far, far outside the mainstream on this — and far to the left of President Obama.”
  • And assured us, again, that “On issues in which there is virtual consensus in the GOP, Paul stands with the left.”

Sullivan summarizes where the neoconservative ire for Paul comes from:

And so we begin to get into – finally! – a real debate about foreign policy within the GOP. With Ron Paul, the neocon stranglehold on Republican foreign policy was easily maintained.

With Rand Paul? Not so much.

A primary focus for Rubin was portraying Paul as being outside the foreign policy mainstream, due to comments he made in a 2009 video about the possibility of containing a nuclear power like Iran. Sullivan disagreed, noting “Paul is perfectly sane, and in line with US strategy against far more formidable nuclear adversaries during the Cold War.”

Sullivan concludes, “If (Paul) is completely out of the mainstream so was George Kennan and every president from Truman to Reagan.”

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