Of course: Jennifer Rubin defends Biden's regime change gaffe

Of course: Jennifer Rubin defends Biden's regime change gaffe

Last May as the number of migrants arriving at the border started to spike upward, Jennifer Rubin mocked the idea of a border crisis and claimed any uptick in numbers couldn’t be tied to President Biden. She said this even though the Post’s own immigration reporter had written a piece laying out exactly how Biden’s moves on immigration has sparked the surge. In the same piece, Rubin went to explain that the surge was just seasonal variation (which was the White House line at the time) even though the authors of a piece initially making that argument had issued a correction admitting it wasn’t so.

A few months later, Biden’s management of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan became such a blatant disaster that his approval ratings took a hit from which they’ve yet to recover. But Jennifer Rubin wrote a defense of Biden essentially claiming he hadn’t failed and no one could have done a better job. It wasn’t the last embarrassing defense of Biden on Afghanistan.

So when Biden made an obvious and significant gaffe about regime change in Russia over the weekend, you can probably guess how Jennifer Rubin reacted in her Monday morning column. If you guessed by backing up Biden and claiming his staffers overreacted in walking his comments back, you guessed correctly. It’s titled, “Putin shouldn’t remain in power. Biden’s advisers blew it.

President Biden went off script during his address in Warsaw on Saturday to say so. “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden exclaimed.

“On Putin, Biden expressed what billions around the world and millions inside Russia also believe. He did not say that the US should remove him from power,” tweeted Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia (and contributing columnist to The Post). “There is a difference.” Precisely. Biden was not calling for assassination, invasion or foreign-directed regime change.

Nevertheless, a panicked White House rushed forth to assure the world what Biden really meant…

So Rubin admits up front that Biden went off script but no matter, he was right to say it and his advisers were wrong to correct him. In fact, Rubin goes on to argue Biden is practically the 2nd coming of Ronald Reagan.

When Reagan declared in 1982 that “the march of freedom and democracy” will leave Marxism and Leninism “on the ash-heap of history,” he was not calling on the West to oust Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Reagan was making a moral statement, giving voice to the universal aspiration for freedom. (Interestingly, arguably the most famous line of Reagan’s presidency, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” almost never made it into that 1987 speech at the Brandenburg Gate, according to speechwriter Peter Robinson, who later told the story of tremulous advisers saying it sounded too confrontational. Fortunately, Reagan overruled them.)

Well, critics (and quivering aides) might say, Sure, but Biden called out the current leader by name, not just an ideology. Listen, Putin’s ideology is kleptocracy or perhaps thugocracy. Would it have been better if Biden had said, “For God’s sake, a thugocracy built on the cult of personality that invades its neighbors cannot endure?” Biden’s phrasing had the benefit of clarity.

Where to start with this mess. First, Rubin cites Reagan emphasizing themes of freedom and democracy and points out those themes were not calling for the ousting of a specific leader, which is exactly the point. Then she cites Reagan’s line (“tear down this wall”) which did use Gorbachev’s name and notes that it was scripted and carefully reflected on in advance, not an off-the-cuff remark tossed in on impulse. And you’ll notice that calling on Gorbachev to end repression isn’t at all the same thing as calling for Gorbachev to be out of power. But having admitted that Biden’s remark was nothing like Reagan’s (neither a general ideological point or a carefully considered rebuke) she concludes “Biden’s phrasing had the benefit of clarity.”


As many have noted, Biden’s statement was a gift to Putin. Thanks to this one gaffe, Putin can argue the war was necessary to prevent Ukraine becoming part of the NATO cabal to bring down Russia. He can also claim the line between opposing his war in Ukraine and siding with western opponents who want regime change is non-existent. This is bad news for the very brave Russians who’ve been risking arrest (and worse) to protest the war. We don’t have the “benefit of clarity” with this Biden gaffe, we have the disadvantage of ambiguity about the west’s goals, ambiguity that only helps Putin in the short run.

Here’s some clarity for you: Jennifer Rubin will say absolutely anything to defend Joe Biden even if it’s the opposite of the truth.

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