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!

Published in General
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 58 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. katievs Inactive
    katievs
    @katievs

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

    That’s true. He’d be standing for the people who aren’t clamoring.

    • #31
  2. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    BrentB67: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.

    You’re skipping the “not a politician” part. That makes precisely zero difference to me, and I presume to you. But it seems to matter to some people. The only person to actually lead Trump in the polls last year for more than a nanosecond was Ben Carson.

    More to the point, the idea isn’t that French or anyone else can destroy Trump with his core constituency in a way the others couldn’t. It’s that any of them actually seemed to have broader appeal than Trump. It’s not as simple as “they failed, why would anyone else succeed?” It’s that the primaries were one kind of campaign with one electorate, and this is a completely different kind of campaign with a completely different electorate.

    • #32
  3. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    French is great.

    A vote for French is a vote to keep the conservative movement alive–a movement that’s already lost the presidency.

    The best decision?  I don’t know.  But a respectable and principled one.

    For my part, though I make no promises how I will vote (save that it shall not be for Clinton), I could cast a vote for David French with great pleasure.

    • #33
  4. Nathanael Ferguson Contributor
    Nathanael Ferguson
    @NathanaelFerguson

    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.

    Leigh, I appreciate both of your points. To the first, I must confess that I am from the “I desperately wanted Trump to not be the nominee but now that he (almost certainly) is I am on team #NeverHillary” camp which certainly colors my perspective on any independent run. I recognize that Kristol for certain, and perhaps French, would disagree with my assessment that Hillary would be worse than Trump.

    To your second point I would note there is a difference between a third party and an independent run. As an independent French would not likely appear on the ballot in all of the states. The filing deadline in Texas has already passed. Also we have seen third party runs against week candidates that have ended in disaster. Teddy Roosevelt’s run against Taft gave us the racist, progressive Woodrow Wilson and Ross Perot’s run against GHW Bush gave us Bill Clinton. Pat Buchanan nearly gave us Al Gore based on the votes he got in Florida. (Gore might say that Ralph Nader did give us GWB based on his vote count in Florida.)

    My view based on what we have seen historically is that two center-right candidates will split the vote and usher in the leftwing progressive.

    • #34
  5. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    So we trade a   person with known support for an untested unknown vote getter?

    This is political lunacy.

    The purpose of primaries is spring training. Can you get people to vote for you?

    Trump can. Hillary can. Bernie can. All others, not so much.

    The President of the United States still needs to be elected by the people in every state.

    All others, good luck next time.

    • #35
  6. Nathanael Ferguson Contributor
    Nathanael Ferguson
    @NathanaelFerguson

    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.

    I would pay to see that play!

    • #36
  7. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    If French can draw enough support to doom Trump then Trump must embrace conservative voters and principles if he is to win.  I am all for that.  You can tell from the comments attacking French on Twitter and elsewhere that Trumpies have no respect for conservatives.  That being the case, why would I want to empower that mob.  Trump is often unfairly attacked but he does nothing to curb the attacks on conservatives.  Give me my French bumper sticker to put along side my Cruz one.

    • #37
  8. Pete Inactive
    Pete
    @petermdaniels

    This is great news because it’s a solid “none of the above” option. It’s a way to express disapproval without just leaving the ballot blank… And word is he’s a pretty darn good man, which is icing on the cake.

    • #38
  9. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    Nathanael Ferguson:

    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.

    I would pay to see that play!

    Rejected title? Weakly Standard Bearer.

    • #39
  10. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    Saint Augustine: A vote for French is a vote to keep the conservative movement alive–a movement that’s already lost the presidency.

    How does a sacrificial candidate keep an ideology alive? Is it run by an Aztec cult?

    To keep it alive, you sell the ideas to those in power because they work, not because they are conservative. If the ideas do not work, then why are they there?

    Is it because conservatism has nobody who can win the policy argument? Or is it because the policies are never couched in political realities that can be sold and implemented?

    All Presidents with the exception of the current one, are pragmatists.

    If conservatism can only be implemented by a conservative, then it is useless. That says the country needs a string of conservative presidents forever. Idiocy.

    Sell it. Now which candidate do you think you can pitch it to with some degree of receptivity?

    • #40
  11. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    Leigh: It’s that the primaries were one kind of campaign with one electorate, and this is a completely different kind of campaign with a completely different electorate.

    Ok, what part of the electorate ,other than #nevertrump republicans would French draw?

    How many Democrats will vote for a National Review Conservative?

    How many lower information voters will vote for a guy with no experience, no party and no name recognition?

    • #41
  12. Frozen Chosen Inactive
    Frozen Chosen
    @FrozenChosen

    tabula rasa: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.

    Both David French and Bill Kristol would love for Mitt Romney to mount a third party campaign but Mitt has declined, probably because without Sanders jumping in as an independent there is no way to stop Hillary from getting to 270.

    I for one would be proud to be a member of the French resistance.

    • #42
  13. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    French Resistance

    • #43
  14. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Why does anyone care what Kristol says?  What’s he ever done?  What’s he ever been elected to?  Whom does he have power over.  Get lost, Kristol.  It’s really hard to take your silliness seriously.

    • #44
  15. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    Kristol Ball gowns are on sale at half price this month.

    • #45
  16. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Pseudodionysius:Kristol Ball gowns are on sale at half price this month.

    How about Kristol Ball Diamond Ball gowns?

    • #46
  17. Brian Wolf Coolidge
    Brian Wolf
    @BrianWolf

    TKC1101:

    Saint Augustine:

    Sell it. Now which candidate do you think you can pitch it to with some degree of receptivity?

    How does a sacrificial candidate keep an ideology alive? Is it run by an Aztec cult?

    It gives people a chance to affirmative vote for a set of principles and beliefs instead of a man without any political principles.  Goldwater had no chance of beating LBJ but he kept the conservative movement alive.

    To keep it alive, you sell the ideas to those in power because they work, not because they are conservative. If the ideas do not work, then why are they there?

    Conservatives are conservatives because we are trying to preserve what we knows work. Even when the modern world says we need corrupt dishonest men and women and running cults of personality and power to lead us. We as Conservatives say, with great evidence, that such cults of personality and power do not and never will work.

    Is it because conservatism has nobody who can win the policy argument? Or is it because the policies are never couched in political realities that can be sold and implemented?

    Well there certainly has not been a policy argument in this election cycle to lose.  Trump win was so dramatic because he had no real policy positions but reached Americans on an emotional level.  Liberty, the rule of law and other bed rock Conservative principles are not popular right now.  That does not make the wrong just unpopular.

    All Presidents with the exception of the current one, are pragmatists.

    If this means that all Presidents are forced to take pragmatic actions due to events that do not match their beliefs or ideology then all Presidents and Politicians, including Obama and in fact all people are pragmatists.  If you using the “pragmatists” as it is normally understood then I can’t think of single President in the modern era that was a pragmatist.

    If conservatism can only be implemented by a conservative, then it is useless. That says the country needs a string of conservative presidents forever. Idiocy.

    Conservatism is best implemented by a conservative but Clinton was forced to implement some great conservative reforms without being a conservative.  Far from idiocy if the country had a string of conservative presidents forever we would be a freer and better led country then we are today.

    Sell it. Now which candidate do you think you can pitch it to with some degree of receptivity?

    Very good.  I will back, help and support anyone engaged in selling Conservative idea if it is David French then I will stand with him.

    • #47
  18. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    It’s time for Kristol to go away, and make this a fair fight.  If and when Trump loses to such a terrible candidate as HRC straight up, we can stop hearing about his virtues, whatever they’re supposed to be.

    • #48
  19. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    I’d be delighted to vote for French. Otherwise, I’m simply leaving the ballot blank on the presidency line.

    • #49
  20. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    BrentB67:

    Pseudodionysius:Kristol Ball gowns are on sale at half price this month.

    How about Kristol Ball Diamond Ball gowns?

    They’re part of the Rich Lowry spring collection.

    • #50
  21. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    Skyler:Why does anyone care what Kristol says? What’s he ever done? What’s he ever been elected to? Whom does he have power over. Get lost, Kristol. It’s really hard to take your silliness seriously.

    People remember him from When Harry Met Sally and want to see him rekindle the old magic.

    • #51
  22. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Pseudodionysius:

    Skyler:Why does anyone care what Kristol says? What’s he ever done? What’s he ever been elected to? Whom does he have power over. Get lost, Kristol. It’s really hard to take your silliness seriously.

    People remember him from When Harry Met Sally and want to see him rekindle the old magic.

    Let’s not forget his pioneering work as a gay character on Soap.

    • #52
  23. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    Hoyacon:

    Pseudodionysius:

    Skyler:Why does anyone care what Kristol says? What’s he ever done? What’s he ever been elected to? Whom does he have power over. Get lost, Kristol. It’s really hard to take your silliness seriously.

    People remember him from When Harry Met Sally and want to see him rekindle the old magic.

    Let’s not forget his pioneering work as a gay character on Soap.

    As Fernando Llamas he was clearly pandering to Hispanics.

    • #53
  24. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    TKC1101:

    Saint Augustine: A vote for French is a vote to keep the conservative movement alive–a movement that’s already lost the presidency.

    How does a sacrificial candidate keep an ideology alive? Is it run by an Aztec cult?

    What Brian Wolf said about Goldwater.

    To keep it alive, you sell the ideas to those in power because they work, not because they are conservative.

    Indeed.  To a rather large extent, that’s also why I’m a conservative.

    Is it because conservatism has nobody who can win the policy argument? Or is it because the policies are never couched in political realities that can be sold and implemented?

    Perhaps the former, perhaps the latter, perhaps in part because the voters are rather foolish.  But how and why should I know, anyway?

    If conservatism can only be implemented by a conservative, then it is useless.

    Assuming people act according to their beliefs, only a conservative can thoroughly implement conservatism.

    But many things, including conservatism, do come in degrees.

    That says the country needs a string of conservative presidents forever. Idiocy.

    It would be nice.  But I’d be delighted to have even a few who are only 80% conservative.

    Sell it. Now which candidate do you think you can pitch it to with some degree of receptivity?

    How is this relevant to anything I said?  Anyway, to answer the question, Cruz and Ryan and French are already conservative enough to make me happy.

    • #54
  25. Freesmith Inactive
    Freesmith
    @Freesmith

    Jäger summed it all up beautifully:

    “How many Democrats would vote for a National Review conservative?”

    You can substitute blacks, non-Cuban Hispanics and Asians for Democrats if you want to show the lack of appeal conservative principles as promulgated by NR have to the very country they’ve allowed to be re-fashioned on these shores.

    • #55
  26. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    James Gawron: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,

    French lives here in Tennessee with two so-called Republican Senators. I’d be ok if he were to beat either of them.

    • #56
  27. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Nathaniel – did you know that David French reads Ricochet’s The Daily Shot? So he must be a member – When I read that, I said to myself “wow! Really?” Then Fred Cole adds in the story “Yes – really!”. Gosh, how does he do that? Like telepathy or something – really!   :-)

    • #57
  28. Nathanael Ferguson Contributor
    Nathanael Ferguson
    @NathanaelFerguson

    Front Seat Cat: Nathaniel – did you know that David French reads Ricochet’s The Daily Shot? So he must be a member – When I read that, I said to myself “wow! Really?” Then Fred Cole adds in the story “Yes – really!”. Gosh, how does he do that? Like telepathy or something – really! :-)

    I was in the early stages of my first cup of coffee when I read The Daily Shot this morning and missed that little gem. He obviously has good taste if he’s a subscriber!

    • #58
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.