Rubio’s epiphany — announcing the obvious with a sense of triumphant discovery — about Trump being a “con man” and a “clown act” is better eight months late than never. If, however, it is too late to rescue Rubio from a Trump nomination, this will be condign punishment for him and the rest of the Republican party’s coalition of the timid.
“Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide, / In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side.” So begins James Russell Lowell’s 1845 poem protesting America’s war with Mexico. The Republicans’ moment is here.
We are about to learn much about Republican officeholders who are now deciding whether to come to terms with Trump, and with the shattering of their party as a vessel of conservatism. Trump’s collaborators, like the remarkably plastic Chris Christie (“I don’t think [Trump’s] temperament is suited for [the presidency]”), will find that nothing will redeem the reputations they will ruin by placing their opportunism in the service of his demagogic cynicism and anti-constitutional authoritarianism.