SIMON MALOY/Media Matters For America:
Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, ever the astute observer of modern liberalism, is lashing out at the left for its reaction to the passing of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Identifying what she claims are the "ten liberal rules for deceased conservative giants," Rubin's indictment lacks coherence, and actually ends up impugning conservatives -- including herself.
Breaking down just a few of these rules shows how far off-base her criticisms are.
Rubin Rule #1: "The only good conservative is a dead one, primarily because they can be used to diminish contemporary conservatives. ('Unlike Reagan, that miserable X never...' is the surefire argument for leftists who never had a nice word to say about Ronald Reagan while he was alive.)"
Trying to diminish a current politician by comparing them unfavorably to a celebrated past politician isn't a "liberal" trick. It's "politics." One can hardly switch on cable news without hearing some wistful pundit damn the current lack of bipartisanship by bringing up Ronald Reagan's and Tip O'Neill's famously chummy relationship. (Looking at you, Morning Joe.)
The past politician doesn't even have to be dead! During the 2012 campaign conservatives tried to attack Barack Obama leading up to the Democratic National Convention by unfavorably comparing him to Bill Clinton.
On a personal level, Clinton was a deal-maker, a compromiser, a welfare reform signer, a budget balancer and never, ever remote or haughty. To the contrary, he perfected the affectation that he was one of us. Clinton is the un-Obama, the guy who worked with a Republican Congress and didn't alienate or demonize business. The Republicans are going to be in hog heaven splicing Clinton's language and accomplishments together with Obama's language and record.
Who wrote that? Jennifer Rubin. Clinton, being alive, was able to put to rest any talk of tension between himself and Obama when he spoke at the convention, at which point Rubin went back to calling Clinton a liar and a braggart.
Rubin Rule #5: "The deceased's greatness is only attributed to identity (woman, grocer's daughter, actor) and personal characteristics (good humor, rhetoric, tenacity). Indeed the more these are built up, the more unique becomes their greatness and the less chance there is for another conservative giant."
It's not readily apparent -- and Rubin doesn't explain -- how highlighting the personal characteristics of a political figure's life diminishes that figure's significance. It's also unclear how pointing out Ronald Reagan's acting career lessens the chance for "another conservative giant" to appear.
But let's assume Rubin is right and that framing Thatcher's identity as "the grocer's daughter" is somehow an assault on Thatcher's legacy. What sort of dastardly liberal would do that? Sarah Palin, for one, whose Thatcher obituary in the National Review is headlined "The Grocer's Daughter." Palin also wrote about Thatcher being a woman ("the first woman to hold the title Leader of the Opposition, and the first woman prime minister of the United Kingdom"); her rhetoric ("Anyone witnessing her brilliant debating skills in the House of Commons..."); and her tenacity ("she was an underestimated underdog and political outsider.")
Rubin Rule #6: "Per No. 5, the personal qualities they now laud (courage, tenacity) are the very things the left despised during the deceased's lifetime, although they were given different labels (recklessness, pig-headedness)."
So the idea here is that liberals will take contrary positions on a conservative's life and legacy as it suits their needs. Well, Jennifer Rubin was no fan of Ted Kennedy. She called him "the man who defamed a legal scholar and good public servant while lowering the tone of politics and the stature of the country," referring to the late Massachusetts senator's now famous reaction to the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.
And yet, when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was wending his way through the nomination process -- a nomination Rubin bitterly, and ineffectually, opposed -- Rubin actually lamented the fact that the Republicans lacked "nervy firebrands like the late Sen. Ted Kennedy" to attack Hagel in a manner similar to the broadside against Bork.
You can read the rest of the "rules" if you like, but the gist of them is that liberals don't treat conservative icons with the level of respect conservative feel those icons are owed, which seems obvious and certainly doesn't require ten Buzzfeed-style bullet points to get across. Absent from the "rules" are any links to or examples of liberals actually engaging in this behavior, so the result is Rubin taking wild swipes at phantom adversaries and ending up hitting herself.