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Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard has been on a mission to recruit a candidate to mount an independent White House bid as a conservative alternative to the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. (You know, in case there is anyone left who doesn’t already know that Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee.) In early May reports circulated that Kristol was courting former nominee Mitt Romney to make the bid. Around that same time, Kristol was also talking up a potential run by Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse who has made his own call for an independent candidate. Presumably, Kristol has has touted or attempted to enlist others as well.
The latest reporting suggests that after being rebuffed by nationally recognized and politically accomplished figures the likes of Romney and Sasse*, Kristol has found his independent candidate in National Review’s David French, a constitutional lawyer, Iraq war veteran, and author who is little-known beyond the readership of conservative online media.
I like David French. He is currently one of my favorite political commentators. He is smart, a very good writer, a true believer in limited, constitutional government, and a great patriot. He is unquestionably qualified to be President of the United States on his own merits and all the more so when compared to the presumptive nominees of the Democrat and Republican parties. If you want to sample his writing to get a sense of the man, take a look at one of my favorite recent pieces, “Small Acts of Cowardice Are Destroying Our Culture.”
Still, his running for President would be a waste of time and energy. At this late stage there is no white knight scenario where an unlikely hero jumps in and turns the election on its head, besting the major party nominees and taking the White House. The practical and financial considerations are simply not possible to overcome and the likeliest result of a David French candidacy would be to help hand the White House to Hillary Clinton. For Kristol that may be a feature rather than a bug, but for French’s reputation and for a nation that desperately needs to not experience the third term of Barack Obama it is most definitely a bug.
There are two easy proofs that French’s candidacy would be doomed from the start. First, if there was any real chance for an independent candidate to ride to victory in November, someone with more national prominence would have succumbed to Kristol’s wooing. The fact that the big-name people rebuffed Kristol, leaving him to call on the patriotic duty of a relatively obscure political writer says all we need to know about the merits of an independent bid. But if further proof is required, consider that more than a dozen men and women already ran against Donald Trump and came up short in the Republican primary. There is simply no reason to think that a man, albeit a good one, unknown to just about anyone outside the worlds of political wonkery and military history can do in the general election what Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, and a host of others couldn’t do in the primary.
Whatever his decision in this matter, I wish David French well. If, against all odds, he becomes our next President, I would expect to see a season of American Renewal like none we have seen before. Such a thing is greatly to be desired but unlikely to be accomplished in 2016.
*Queue the comments that Romney and Sasse are not politically accomplished!