While E.J. Dionne was certainly wrong about many things in his article from February 9, I wouldn’t go so far to call it a smear job or a screed. Indeed, Dionne, in his book Why Americans Hate Politics, mentions the tactics and thought of Murray Rothbard on more than one occasion, and gives him a somewhat evenhanded treatment.
We should not expect as much from Jennifer Rubin. When I read Dionne’s piece, I was unaware that WaPo had already issued an attack on the Mises Institute in the form of Jennifer Rubin’s column from January 27, which more or less parrots the New York Times’s smear job of the Mises Institute from the day before. Rubin’s article uses the usual tactics of guilt by association, and like the NYT, refers to unnamed “institute scholars” who have supposedly said horribly racist things, although Rubin of course fails to find or link to anything published by the Mises Institute on which she can hang this accusation.
Rubin primarily writes on foreign policy matters in the form of relentless boosterism for more war always and everywhere. In this case, Rubin smears the Mises Institute as part of a larger takedown of Rand Paul, who is, by the way, unaffiliated with the Mises Institute. Rubin’s attack on the Mises Institute is adjunct to her larger purpose of attacking all foreign-policy anti-interventionists (a group which may or may not include Rand Paul) who are, in Rubin’s view, insufficiently enthusiastic about her favored wars. Focusing on Rand Paul, she was on the attack at least as long ago as July 2013 when she wrote:
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has strenuously insisted that he is not the ideological twin of his father. But recent events – his paranoia about drones; his praise of Edward Snowden; his defense of his aide, the “Southern Avenger” Jack Hunter; and his lashing out at “neocons” – suggest he’s not far enough from his father to achieve respectability with a substantial segment of the GOP.
For Rubin, being an “ideological twin” of Ron Paul is a horrible thing, and of course, not liking drone warfare is apparently a sign of paranoia. In Rubin’s world, Edward Snowden is also a villain. Yet, beyond the fact that Rand Paul happens to be related to Ron Paul, it’s hard to see how anything here could lead Rubin to the Mises Institute.
In Rubin’s mind, though, it has everything to do with the Mises Institute, although she can’t actually make a case for such a position. Instead, she just quotes a few lines from the NYT piece that confirms her long-time assumption that anyone who opposes the firebombing of Pakistani toddlers and the lawless surveillance of everyone everywhere, must also support slavery.
Rubin has conveniently created a world for herself in which it is impossible for reasonable people to disagree with her. Witness last year’s nomination process for milquetoast politician Chuck Hagel, who as a reward for showing even slight opposition to bombing Iran into the stone age, was said by Rubin to harbor “rank prejudice against American Jews.” If we match up this accusation with the laughable statement that “[t]he elected official who most resembles Hagel’s extreme voting record and views is now former congressman Ron Paul,” we finally start to see the bizarre logic that Rubin is bringing.
In her mind, anyone who opposes her is an anti-semite, ergo Chuck Hagel is an anti-semite, and Hagel’s (supposedly) meek interventionism makes Hagel just like Ron Paul. You can see how Rubin then leaps from there to the point where she’ll re-print whatever smear of the Mises Institute she can find in the establishment press.
Rubin’s monomaniacal obsession with starting more wars in and around the Middle East leads her to lash out at anyone anywhere who might have qualms about starting another war in the midst of two wars the US has already lost or is losing. The New York Times‘s hit piece provided her with an convenient avenue of attack, and it’s not surprising that she added nothing to the Times‘s accusation. When a smear is based on nothing in the first place, it’s best to not dig too deep.