Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) at a primary election party, in Kissimmee, Fla., in August. (John Raoux/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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>Indignant emails roll out of Marco Rubio’s Senate office in waves, as if the past year hadn’t happened at all.

President Obama is soft on Cuba, they complain. Obama is soft on Iran. Obama should be tougher on Venezuela.

This is Rubio the defender of human rights, Rubio the internationalist, Rubio the brave advocate for U.S. leadership and engagement in a dangerous, dictatorial world.

And Rubio the endorser of Donald Trump? Nowhere to be found in these pronouncements. Unimaginable, in fact, in these pronouncements.

Every down-ballot Republican candidate who has endorsed Trump for president, which is almost every down-ballot Republican candidate, will have to explain the stance to his or her children and grandchildren.

None will have more difficulty than strong-U.S. Republicans such as Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Rubio of Florida. They have pilloried Obama for weakening the United States’ position in the world. Yet until the sexual-predator video surfaced, they all recommended a vote for someone who would do far greater damage to the United States than Obama ever could — who would destroy the alliances and moral standing they claim to champion. Even after the video, Rubio and Cotton are still on board.

I’ve agreed with many (though by no means all) of these senators’ criticisms of administration policy. Obama’s premature withdrawal from Iraq, Afghanistan and other zones of crisis made the world more dangerous — and forced U.S. troops to redeploy into far less favorable circumstances than they left.

But as evident as Obama’s mistakes have become with time, it is even more obvious that the 2016 candidate most committed to the values these Republicans claim to cherish is Hillary Clinton. She believes in U.S. leadership and engagement on behalf of democratic allies.

Trump, by contrast, trashes the United States’ allies, speaks casually about the use and spread of nuclear weapons and admires the world’s most odious dictators, including Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

What explanation can there be for Rubio’s support of such a man, beyond placing party over country and self-preservation over self-respect?

As he campaigns for reelection, Rubio’s muddy excuses have tended to involve the dangers of electing a Democratic president who would appoint liberal judges to the Supreme Court.

But not so long ago, Rubio understood that even that awesome power is secondary. “I think the most important thing a president will ever do is provide for the national security of our country,” he said a year ago.

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