The Existential Agony of the Anti-Trump Right-Wing Blogger

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Meet the Press - Season 68
What's a hyperpartisan to do when the party goes horribly wrong? Photo: NBC NewsWire/2016 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Anyone who’s spent much time reading the Washington Post’s designated conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin, or dealt with her (as I have) in media appearances, knows her as one of the most intensely partisan writers of an intensely partisan era. Her devotion to Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential cycle was legendary. But she’s also a person of fixed ideological perspectives (fiercely hawkish on national security, conventionally conservative on economic and fiscal policy, largely indifferent to cultural issues), which, luckily for her, have mostly coincided with the dominant elite GOP views of recent years. Unluckily for her, those views have now been overthrown by Donald J. Trump. 

Rubin spent a goodly part of the pre-primary and early-primary period mentally auditioning various candidates to stop Trump. She was self-disciplined enough to quickly throw over her one-time favorite, Marco Rubio, for Ted Cruz (not a favorite) when it became clear only Cruz had a chance to take down the Donald. She’s been as scathing about Trump himself as anyone you can name. So it’s been interesting to anticipate how she will deal with the nightmarish prospect of her beloved party falling into evil hands. 

Today, she devoted a post to spitting contempt at the formerly anti-Trump pols who are now crawling back into the contaminated party tent. She saved some special venom for Marco Rubio, who struggled to rationalize his support for Trump in an interview with Jake Tapper:

Well, Rubio doesn’t want Clinton to be president. Besides, he signed a pledge. Tapper was a bit incredulous, reminding Rubio that he “had concerns about the nuclear codes being in the hands of an erratic conman.” Rubio lamely replied, “Here’s what I’m not going to do over the next six months. I’m not going to sit there and be taking shots at him.” So instead he will sit through excruciating sessions like that?

Clearly, Rubin won’t, as her headline put it, “defend Trump for the next six months.” But what will she do instead? Spend the next six months hissing at both major-party candidates? Barring the increasingly unlikely third-party conservative candidate, the options aren’t good for someone like her.  She’s horrified by libertarian foreign policy, and is even less likely to fall in with the Christian Nationalists of the Constitution Party. I guess she could develop an interest in some policy topics, or dig into down-ballot races, though it’s unclear her readership is interested in a political blogger who doesn’t cover the presidential race. A six-month sabbatical would work, I suppose.

But if she sticks around I worry for Rubin’s mental health. She must feel a bit like a devoutly religious person who is suddenly presented with convincing evidence there is no God — or at least that God has taken four years off. 

Maybe, at the last minute this autumn, she’ll be so enraged by Hillary Clinton and so fired up by all the old partisan hymns that she will return to the Republican Faith, like an atheist in a foxhole. If so, she’ll have that many more words to eat than Marco Rubio.