Jennifer Rubin, whose “Right Turn” space at the Washington Post seems reserved lately for attacks on Donald Trump, finds “problematic” last night’s “Make America Safe Again” theme at the GOP convention. The most consistent anti-Trump voices in the party, she notes, have been foreign policy conservatives.
This is probably true. But Rubin doesn’t explain why the fact that Trump disagrees with foreign policy conservatives on some matters renders problematic the well-deserved bashing of Hillary Clinton on safety issues that occurred last night or, for that matter, why it renders problematic supporting Trump over Clinton.
Rubin approvingly quotes a Senate staffer who says “Republicans who talk about security but saddle up with Trump have some explaining/soul searching to do.” If “saddle up” in this context means supporting Trump over Hillary Clinton, I imagine the explanation of national security stalwarts like Jeff Sessions and Tom Cotton would be straightforward: Trump, they believe, is clearly superior to Clinton on security issues.
Now, this proposition isn’t self-evident, given some of what Trump has said — e.g. about Putin and NATO. But it’s a case I think Sessions and Cotton could make.
Moreover, “explaining/soul searching” is a two way street. It seems to me that those who talk about security and refuse to back Trump over Clinton must show either (1) that Clinton is likely to be as good as or better than Trump on security issues or, if she isn’t (2) that Trump’s superiority on security issues isn’t sufficient reason, other things considered, to induce a vote for Trump.
As someone who talks about security and is not, at this time, supporting Trump, I’m still weighing these two propositions. Neither is self-evident.
The fact that folks like Jennifer Rubin have mastered the lingo of high-mindedness doesn’t exempt them from the need for soul-searching.