When Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol announced last weekend that “an independent candidate — an impressive one, with a strong team and a real chance” would come forward to snatch the election from Trump’s clutches, anti-Trump conservatives (or at least the ones who still took Kristol at his word) sensed a momentary glimmer of hope. Kristol’s mysterious independent turned out to be David French, a lawyer and a blogger for National Review online. But whatever hope might’ve emerged with Kristol’s pronouncement was crushed Sunday night when French announced that, “after much thought and prayer,” he would not, in fact, run for president.
He did so in a column for the National Review in which he first expressed his disdain both for Hillary Clinton and Trump. “Never before have both parties failed so spectacularly, producing two dishonest, deceitful candidates who should be disqualified from running for town council, much less leader of the free world,” he wrote. And he went on to express his belief that an independent candidate could still totally come galloping in on a white horse to save the day:
Given this reality, it would be tempting to say that when it comes to confronting this national moment, “somebody” stepping up is better than nobody. But somebody is not always better than nobody. I’m on record saying that Mitt Romney could win. I believe others could run and win, and would make excellent presidents.
Indeed, the path is there. I spent the last several days with some of the best minds in politics. I learned that the ballot-access challenge can be met with modest effort (by an existing network ready to activate), that the polling for a true outsider independent was better than most people know, and that there are many, many Americans — including outstanding political talents — who are willing to quit their jobs — today — to help provide the American people with an alternative.
However, French writes, the candidate most likely to succeed as an independent is “a person who either is extraordinarily wealthy (or has immediate access to extraordinary wealth) or is a transformational political talent.” And he, sadly, is neither.