David French Should Resist Bill Kristol’s Exhortation To Run For President

 

David-FrenchBill 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!

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  1. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    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.

    We’ll see American renewal under Trump, despite the drawbacks of his personality. Kristol is a pharisee and should be ashamed of himself.  Evidently Trump’s Supreme Court list means nothing to him.  Apparently conservative abstractions mean everything.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Nathanael Ferguson: 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.

    I appreciate your even-handedness. There’s no reason to attack David French, a bright and honorable man. And I simply have no clue what Bill Kristol is thinking. But your point, especially with so little time left (relatively speaking) before the election, French will have no way to educate the public about himself. And so it is.

    • #2
  3. Johnny Dubya Member
    Johnny Dubya
    @JohnnyDubya

    Bob W: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.

    We’ll see American renewal under Trump, despite the drawbacks of his personality. Kristol is a pharisee and should be ashamed of himself. Evidently Trump’s Supreme Court list means nothing to him. Apparently conservative abstractions principles mean everything.

    Fix it for you.

    “Drawbacks of his personality” reminds me of the liberal media referring to Bill Clinton’s “marital indiscretions”.  Trump does not have personality “drawbacks”; he has personality defects and pathologies.  He is indisputably a liar and a cheater, and he will soon be determined to be a fraudster, as well – though most of us do not require the determination of legal proceedings to conclude that Trump University was a deceptive enterprise whose customers were misled and pressured to pay amounts that far exceeded the value of services received.  It was a disgrace.

    • #3
  4. BrentB67 Member
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    I don’t follow Kristol and don’t plan on starting so I will have to ask here:

    Has Mr. French expressed interest in running for President? I’ve not seen any quotes or statements from the gentleman.

    Does Kristol bother to address those who actually ran? I realize there is a wide spectrum of support and difference of opinion over who was best suited, most conservative, etc., but what exactly does Bill Kristol identify that was missing from a half dozen governors and three (3) Senators that Mr. French apparently has in abundance that he will be credible this late in the cycle?

    • #4
  5. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf
    @BrianWolf

    If David French were to run I think his chances would be tiny unless really, really wealthy people made it their mission to seem him funded and promoted like we have never seen before.

    Stranger things have happened.  However if French did win count me in the French resistance.  I would be proud to vote for that man.  In fact I think it might be the proudest, if most useless, vote of my adult life.  What a President David French would be!  To dream, to dream…

    • #5
  6. Mark Wilson Member
    Mark Wilson
    @MarkWilson

    Bob W: We’ll see American renewal under Trump, despite the drawbacks of his personality.

    I’m interested to hear an expanded version of this comment.  I think many of Trump’s opponents are predicting quite the opposite.  I write this comment at risk of turning this thread into yet another debate about Trump himself, and I hope that doesn’t happen.  I just want to hear your vision of this American renewal.

    • #6
  7. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Kristol is a desperate fool. He doesn’t want to win. He only wants Trump to lose.

    • #7
  8. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    Mark Wilson:

    Bob W: We’ll see American renewal under Trump, despite the drawbacks of his personality.

    I’m interested to hear an expanded version of this comment. I think many of Trump’s opponents are predicting quite the opposite. I write this comment at risk of turning this thread into yet another debate about Trump himself, and I hope that doesn’t happen. I just want to hear your vision of this American renewal.

    The renewal I’m thinking of isn’t something peculiar to Trump. I think it would happen with any Republican who would have won. Look where we’re coming from, after all.  I do worry about Trump’s ego etc., but I don’t think it’s enough to change that outcome. (What will change it is a third party ensuring defeat).  I also believe that his approach will lead to us being respected by friends and feared by enemies, maybe even more so than other Republicans could have achieved.   I could be wrong on that last one of course but it’s a gut feeling.

    • #8
  9. Nathanael Ferguson Contributor
    Nathanael Ferguson
    @NathanaelFerguson

    BrentB67: Has Mr. French expressed interest in running for President? I’ve not seen any quotes or statements from the gentleman.

    So far as I know, Mr. French has not yet commented on the idea. There has been quite a storm of speculation about it in the conservative media though and he will likely have to say something about it soon.

    • #9
  10. Mark Wilson Member
    Mark Wilson
    @MarkWilson

    Bob W: I also believe that his approach will lead to us being respected by friends and feared by enemies

    Thanks for the reply, I now understand much better what you meant.

    (I have to laugh at myself because I first read the above quoted statement as “his approach will lead to us being rejected by friends”.)

    • #10
  11. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Nate,

    Instead of destroying his sanity over this ridiculous pseudo mission, why doesn’t David French pick a nice democratic senator and beat the pants off him in the next election?

    Sounds like the better choice to me.

    Regards,

    • #11
  12. Leigh Member
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    BrentB67:I don’t follow Kristol and don’t plan on starting so I will have to ask here:

    Has Mr. French expressed interest in running for President? I’ve not seen any quotes or statements from the gentleman.

    Does Kristol bother to address those who actually ran? I realize there is a wide spectrum of support and difference of opinion over who was best suited, most conservative, etc., but what exactly does Bill Kristol identify that was missing from a half dozen governors and three (3) Senators that Mr. French apparently has in abundance that he will be credible this late in the cycle?

    To your first question: looking at his Twitter feed today and what NRO is saying it’s very clear French is genuinely considering it.

    To the second: he’s not a politician, and he is a recent combat veteran.

    My guess is that French, from what I know of him, is precisely the sort of person Americans would actually like very much if he ever somehow got the prominence to be taken seriously.

    It’s a one-in-a-thousand shot, at least. It may be a time for a one-in-a-thousand attempt.

    • #12
  13. Leigh Member
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Two thoughts on the OP: the post assumes that — to French and others — Trump is sufficiently better than Clinton to make it not worth it. But that’s not necessarily their thinking. I am not even sure it is my thinking. It’s obviously true that the country cannot afford Clinton. But it may be likewise true that it cannot afford Trump. In that case — it may be a time for a last desperate throw.

    Second: here’s an angle on it that isn’t considered: a third-party candidate can withdraw if it doesn’t go anywhere. If there really isn’t any demand — if the party is sufficiently content with Trump to stick with him and if there are no Democrats to be pulled away — it will be pretty clear, won’t it? Why not test the waters, see what demand might be there, see if it goes anywhere? If it doesn’t, you can call it quits anytime in the next few months.

    What if there actually were a genuinely weak, beatable candidate and nobody ever really tried, because they were so convinced normal rules applied and it couldn’t be done, and were afraid of the consequences of a failed attempt? Have we seen that anywhere… like the Democratic nomination fight?

    Just because the politicians think it can’t be done doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying.

    Why not find out?

    • #13
  14. Fred Hadra Podcaster
    Fred Hadra
    @FredHadra

    Nathanael Ferguson: He is unquestionably qualified to be President of the United States on his own merits

    I would say French is unquestionably constitutionally qualified to be President of the United States, almost certainly more temperamentally qualified than Trump, and very likely more morally fit for the job than either of the two likely major party nominees. But I don’t think that President is an entry-level job in politics. To be sure, a long record of public service (including holding a succession of appointed and/or elected offices) does not necessarily make one more prepared for the position, but that’s not the debate we’re having in the case of French. Plenty of room for disagreement on that point, including by way of reference to Buckley and his “first 400 names in the Boston phone book” quote.

    All that being said, I agree with you and hope that French does not agree to be Kristol’s useful idiot, if indeed all this rumoring is true.

    • #14
  15. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    I offer Exhibit A for your delectation as to why this is a bad idea. When you Google “David French” you get a photo of National Review’s David French appended to an entry for a dead Canadian playwright. I can hear Donald Trump now…

    Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 12.59.06 PM

    • #15
  16. tabula rasa Member
    tabula rasa
    @tabularasa

    I’m an admirer of Bill Kristol, David French, and of the effort to recruit a third party candidate.  I hope someday to see David French become a senator from Tennessee.

    But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for David French to be the third party candidate.  He just doesn’t have the national profile necessary to make such a movement credible.

    I’m a #neverTrump kind of guy.  But if we’re going to go through a third party process, let’s make it real.

    • #16
  17. BrentB67 Member
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Leigh:

    BrentB67:I don’t follow Kristol and don’t plan on starting so I will have to ask here:

    Has Mr. French expressed interest in running for President? I’ve not seen any quotes or statements from the gentleman.

    Does Kristol bother to address those who actually ran? I realize there is a wide spectrum of support and difference of opinion over who was best suited, most conservative, etc., but what exactly does Bill Kristol identify that was missing from a half dozen governors and three (3) Senators that Mr. French apparently has in abundance that he will be credible this late in the cycle?

    To your first question: looking at his Twitter feed today and what NRO is saying it’s very clear French is genuinely considering it.

    To the second: he’s not a politician, and he is a recent combat veteran.

    My guess is that French, from what I know of him, is precisely the sort of person Americans would actually like very much if he ever somehow got the prominence to be taken seriously.

    It’s a one-in-a-thousand shot, at least. It may be a time for a one-in-a-thousand attempt.

    So the only thing separating him from those that were in the field is combat experience.

    I personally like that, but wouldn’t have changed my vote.

    Do you feel like that is going to move many folks? I am challenged to see it.

    • #17
  18. BrentB67 Member
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Leigh:Two thoughts on the OP: the post assumes that — to French and others — Trump is sufficiently better than Clinton to make it not worth it. But that’s not necessarily their thinking. I am not even sure it is my thinking. It’s obviously true that the country cannot afford Clinton. But it may be likewise true that it cannot afford Trump. In that case — it may be a time for a last desperate throw.

    Second: here’s an angle on it that isn’t considered: a third-party candidate can withdraw if it doesn’t go anywhere. If there really isn’t any demand — if the party is sufficiently content with Trump to stick with him and if there are no Democrats to be pulled away — it will be pretty clear, won’t it? Why not test the waters, see what demand might be there, see if it goes anywhere? If it doesn’t, you can call it quits anytime in the next few months.

    What if there actually were a genuinely weak, beatable candidate and nobody ever really tried, because they were so convinced normal rules applied and it couldn’t be done, and were afraid of the consequences of a failed attempt? Have we seen that anywhere… like the Democratic nomination fight?

    Just because the politicians think it can’t be done doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying.

    Why not find out?

    The risk is it fails and it cements Trump’s popularity.

    • #18
  19. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    David who?

    • #19
  20. Solon Member
    Solon
    @Solon

    The only chance for a 3rd option was a libertarian, someone who could get anti-Trump Republicans and pro-weed Bernie supporters.  That fantasy seems to have died this past weekend at the libertarian convention.

    • #20
  21. A-Squared Coolidge
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    I oppose any effort to create a third party between now and November.

    Trump won the nomination fair and square.  Vote for him or don’t (I probably won’t).

    The time to start a new third party is the Wednesday after the election. At that point, sign me up.  We don’t need two big-government authoritarian parties.  If Trump wins in November, he can run for re-election as a Democrat.

    • #21
  22. Pseudodionysius Member
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    *****BREAKING NEWS*****

    Iowahawk to write screenplay based on the Off Broadway play Third Party. Will Farrell will play Bill Kristol. Billy Crystal unavailable for comment.

    • #22
  23. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    I like David French, too, but running for president is a skill, one he doesn’t obviously have.  This is throwing him to the wolves to salve Kristol’s soul.  I hope it isn’t actually happening.

    If it actually does, then we’ll have to answer the question “can he do it?” and assess from there.

    • #23
  24. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    I don’t see what the big deal is.  As everyone knows, NeverTrump is irrelevant, David French is (in this media climate) a relative nobody and everyone knows that Trump is going to win and its going to be huge.

    If he wants to go for it, no one should feel threatened.

    • #24
  25. Matty Van Member
    Matty Van
    @MattyVan

    Who knows if it’s a good idea? But I’d sure like someone to vote for. Hope he runs.

    • #25
  26. katievs Member
    katievs
    @katievs

    I like David French as an Independent Republican much better than Mitt Romney or Ben Sasse. Romney lost to Obama, and he isn’t reliably conservative. Ben Sasse is way too green. Plus I’m mad at him for not supporting Cruz when it could have made a difference.

    I hope he says yes.

    • #26
  27. GFHandle Member
    GFHandle
    @GFHandle

    Johnny Dubya: He is indisputably a liar and a cheater, and he will soon be determined to be a fraudster, as well – though most of us do not require the determination of legal proceedings to conclude that Trump University was a deceptive enterprise whose customers were misled and pressured to pay amounts that far exceeded the value of services received. It was a disgrace.

    Indeed. And Hugh Hewlett makes the response that Hilary’s crimes endangered Americans, which is worse than what he did, which is not yet shown to have been illegal, only sleazy. Ergo, we should swallow and keep her and not him out of office. Or, as the Duck Dynasty patriarch said: we know what she will do; we are not sure what he will do.

    • #27
  28. Nick Stuart Member
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Only familiar with David French’s writing and small snippets of his biography. He seems like a good man.

    He’s a #NeverTrump of the deepest dye which is his right.

    Hopefully he will have the good sense not to follow Bill Kristol off the #NeverTrump cliff.

    • #28
  29. katievs Member
    katievs
    @katievs

    I am sure that Trump is not on my team. He is a proven antagonist of the fundamental values and principles that have made me a Republican and conservative all my life.

    He’s better than Hillary in some respects, worse in others. One way he’s worse is that he is dividing the resistance to the galloping corruption of our all our institutions.

    I can’t vote for him. I’d love to vote for someone I think would actually be a great president.

    • #29
  30. Paul Dougherty Member
    Paul Dougherty
    @PaulDougherty

    Where is the evidence that the country is clamoring for anything but divisive entertainment?  Mr. French brings nothing to the table for this end.

    • #30

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