Ever since it became obvious that Trump would win the GOP nomination (and even before that), we’ve had the phenomenon of GOP officeholders and/or former rival candidates jumping on the Trump train. Ben Carson was one of the first, but he certainly isn’t the last, and the list includes people whose previous criticism of Trump had been remarkably bitter.

The latest to support Trump is Marco Rubio, and many people are excoriating him for it (for example, see this from Allahpundit and this by Philip Klein; there are others). Here’s an excerpt from the Klein piece, so you can get the flavor of it:

It’s one thing to begrudgingly argue that as dangerous as he thinks a Trump presidency would be, that he thinks a Clinton presidency would be even worse. But to actually say that he would be “honored” by the chance to speak on Trump’s behalf at the GOP convention, and to downplay his previously stated problems with Trump as mere “policy differences,” is to prove the Rubio skeptics right.

That is, far from being an inspirational moral leader, Rubio has shown himself to be more of an opportunistic politician with his finger to the wind.

Well, even if true, that would make Rubio resemble around 99.99999% of the people who run for office. But actually, like the rest of us ordinary voters who were not originally for either Trump or Hillary (and that’s a lot of us), most GOP officeholders and former officeholders face the “Hillary or Trump” dilemma. In fact, politicians on the right face a much more intense version of it, with no good solution for those who once criticized Trump. Failing to support Trump now opens them up to the charge of betraying the GOP and/or the right in the general election, whereas supporting him (if they previously criticized him) makes them vulnerable to accusations of hypocrisy.

So there’s is no good way out for Rubio (whom the GOP might need to run in Florida in order to have a chance of preserving their Senate majority)—none. He has even more reason than, for example, Rick Perry or Bobby Jindal (both of whom endorsed Trump after excoriating him, with Perry even saying he’d be willing to be his VP) to moderate his previous stance on Trump.

Personally, I don’t harshly judge anyone who supports Trump at this point, now that Trump the nominee is virtually a fait accompli. Nor do I harshly judge anyone who does not support him. Both groups have my sympathy—and my understanding, because of my own struggles with the issue. And I’m tired of people expecting a rectitude (and a degree of martyrdom) from politicians that is completely unrealistic.

Let’s take a look at what Rubio actually said rather than paraphrases of it [emphasis mine]:

“Yeah, my sense is I’m gonna go to the convention,” Rubio said. “And I don’t know if I’ll have a role in the convention, but I have a lot of people going there that are supporters.”

“Yeah,” Rubio responded when asked if he would speak on Trump’s behalf at the convention. “I wanna be helpful. I don’t wanna be harmful because I don’t want Hillary Clinton to be president.”…

“Look, my policy differences with Donald Trump — I spent 11 months talking about them so I think they’re well understood. That said, I don’t want Hillary Clinton to be president,” he continued. “If there’s something I can do to help that from happening and it’s helpful to the cause, I most certainly would be honored to be considered for that.”

He also said he would release his delegates, though his campaign “basically, technically” has already done so, he explained, “because Donald is gonna have a majority number and at that point it’ll be irrelevant.”

“So, if we haven’t done so already, we will,” he said.

Despite how far he’s willing to go to support the billionaire, it stops at joining his ticket. “In my view, that wouldn’t be the right choice for him,” Rubio said of being chosen as Trump’s running mate. “He’s earned the nomination and deserves to have a running mate that more fully embraces the things he stands for.”

What does Klein (or other critics) expect Rubio to do, repeat his charge that Trump is a con man at the same time that he says he’s nevertheless going to support him? That would seem absurd. Rubio certainly doesn’t seem to be taking back any of his original criticisms of Trump, nor does he praise Trump as a fine man and a wonderful candidate, as people ordinarily do when they support someone.

And no, Rubio did not say he’d be honored to speak on behalf of Trump (unless I missed something; I can’t find a full text of Rubio’s Tapper interview). He said he’d be honored to speak in furtherance of the cause of stopping Hillary Clinton from becoming president. Take a look once again:

“I don’t want Hillary Clinton to be president,” Rubio continued. “If there’s something I can do to help that from happening and it’s helpful to the cause, I most certainly would be honored to be considered for that.”

Pretty explicit, pretty clear. It’s to stop Hillary. Period.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]