Rubin vs Pitney

Michael Rubin, former DOD political hack and conservative media personality, is an extraordinarily thin-skinned individual who likes to respond to criticism by painting vast conspiracy theories and spreading around allegations of journalistic misconduct. Here, for example, he analogizes Nico Pitney to Jayson Blair as a way of responding to Nico’s (accurate) point that members of congress actually interested in understanding Iran policy should avoid listening to Rubin.

Rubin’s case consists of three parts:

— The first and most valid point is that Nico’s statement — comprising a single clause in a sentence — that Rubin’s “career work include aiding Doug Feith in the notorious Office of Special Plans to advance dubious intelligence that helped lead the U.S. into war in Iraq” does not fully capture the complexity of the DOD org chart. Still, Rubin did work at DOD, under Feith, in the Office of Special Plans so it’s hardly a fabrication to say he did so. And that’s the most valid point Rubin makes!

— Rubin’s second contention, that to characterize him as an advocate of military action against Iran is to “lie shamelessly,” doesn’t pass the laugh test. It’s true that Rubin, like many members of the organized campaign to provoke a US-Iran military confrontation, likes to assert that such action should only be a “last resort.” But Rubin is steadfastly opposed to all means of persuading Iran to abandon its nuclear program that don’t rely purely on coercion, and he’s also opposed to the idea of coping with the Iranian nuclear program through deterrence. For him to claim he’s not an advocate of military action because his first choice is for Iran to surrender preemptively is silly hair-splitting not a serious counterargument.


— Rubin’s third claim is that it’s a lie to accuse him of preferring an Ahmadenijad victory to a Mousavi victory in Iran’s presidential elections. I think the facts on this are pretty clear. Rubin did not come right out and use the words “I prefer Ahmadenijad” but his preferences are quite clear in what he wrote.

Beyond the specifics of this case, however, I note that this is part of a longstanding Rubin habit of dealing with political disagreements through hysteria, whining, and bullying. When people argue about politics, they often disagree about how best to characterize a situation. When Rubin disagrees with how someone characterizes something, he responds by accusing his opponents of being a deliberate fabricator. He’s done it to my friend Mark Goldberg, he’s done it to me, he’s done it to George Packer and Laura Rozen, and he’s done it to Matt Duss among others. And since they have no standards whatsoever at National Review, I assume he’ll keep on doing it.