On the lonely island of ‘Never Trump’

“My wife said, ‘never,’” said Brian Hook, looking pained and slicing the air with a long, pale hand. He stood, tall and sandy-haired, pink tie perfectly knotted, in the cavernous foyer of the Mellon Auditorium, which, that day was hosting the Peterson Institute’s Fiscal Summit.

“Never” isn’t a word one expects to hear from a Republican lifer contemplating a possible job in a possible Republican administration. Hook has a long, distinguished conservative resume. He was a foreign policy advisor to the Romney and Pawlenty campaigns; a special assistant to the President George W. Bush, whom he also served as an Assistant Secretary of State and as a senior advisor to the UN ambassador. In any normal year, he’d be in line for a plum post.

Not this time. It was a rainy afternoon outside, one in a long chain of rainy afternoons, as if it hadn’t stopped raining since Donald Trump clinched the GOP nomination in Indiana. And Hook is one of a small, diehard set of the Republicans who have been wandering outside this season, getting wet, locked out of their own house. “Even if you say you support him as the nominee,” Hook says, “you go down the list of his positions and you see you disagree on every one.”