On Tuesday, news broke that The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol had settled on a third party option for disenchanted conservatives: National Review columnist David French. The media quickly went into full mockery mode. Andrew Kirell of The Daily Beast wrote, “This must be a joke.” MSNBC asked, “Wait, who?” CNN mocked, “Bill Kristol’s white knight: David French.” Elliott Hannon of Slate mused along the same lines, “Wait. Who? You know, conservative magazine staff writer, David French. Tennessee lawyer David French? Still nothing? Well, fear not, you’re not alone.” Dan Scavino, a member of the Trump team, tweeted simply:
— Dan Scavino Jr. (@DanScavino) May 31, 2016
Bill Kristol chooses David French, for Independent Presidential Run. Have you EVER heard of him? #Trump2016
— Dan Scavino Jr. (@DanScavino) May 31, 2016
Now, I’ve made the case against running a third party candidate. Among my arguments: it won’t work, it appears desperate, any candidate minimizes the level of opposition to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and those who voted for Trump in the primaries and now ardently back him should reap the whirlwind of an unfettered head-to-head race against the Democrats.
With all of that said, if there’s going to be a third party candidate, nobody would make me happier than David French. French, for those who don’t know him – and very few people outside the conservative movement do – is an excellent thinker, a writer for National Review, a Harvard Law graduate and constitutional attorney, and an Iraq War veteran. Here are six reasons I’d support French running for the presidency:
1. He’s A Relative Unknown. This election cycle has been dominated by figures with 100 percent name recognition. Sure, they’re corrupt and we hate them – by polls, Hillary and Trump are the two most unpopular presidential candidates in American history – but we’re enamored of their names. Familiarity breeds following.
French throws that on its head. Because he isn’t a figure, his ideas matter far more than his persona. French expressing Constitutional freedom on the campaign trail would be a worthwhile endeavor, even if he has no shot at winning: using this failed 2016 race as a barnstorming tour for conservative ideals is a worthwhile goal, now that it’s completely clear that the American electorate simply doesn’t know very much about founding principles.
It would be a positive to put French on stage with Hillary and Trump – and demonstrate to the public that we don’t need a celebrity president, we need someone who will leave us alone and enforce our Constitutional rights.
2. He’s Honest. Nobody trusts Hillary. Nobody trusts Trump. They shouldn’t. They’re both pathological liars. French is honest – and that’s why the media are already combing his columns for pull quotes with which to humiliate him. French, as a complete outsider, has no need to pull punches. Trumpsters keep saying they like Trump’s honesty, even as he switches positions more often than a Vegas hooker. French is actually honest. That honesty will be refreshing.
3. He’s An Iraq War Vet. David French served in Iraq and was awarded a Bronze Star. He signed up for the military in middle age, with small children at home, after reading in 2005 about hardships the military was experiencing in Iraq. Here’s what he wrote:
America wasn’t too soft to fight a long war. I was too soft. And I had no excuse. Think about that wounded officer. Did he love his wife less than I loved my wife? Did he love his kids less than I love my kids? Yet he was risking everything, and I was risking nothing. So I enlisted. I became a JAG officer in the United States Army and deployed to Iraq as part of the Surge in 2007 — attached to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment…I prayed throughout my deployment. Every night when I fell asleep, every time a friend and brother fell, every time I put on my gear (we called it “battle rattle”) to go outside the wire. No assurance came. No assurance ever came.
Now, granted, tough guy Trump did serve in his own personal Vietnam while attempting to avoid the scourge of STDs during the go-go 1980s, joking, “I feel like a great and very brave soldier.” And Trump did go to a military high school, which he says was just like serving in the military. And he did dodge the draft.
And granted, Hillary Clinton did get four Americans killed in Benghazi and blamed a video, tried to mandate that members of the military not dress in uniform in the White House, and supposedly tried to sign up for the Marines in an attempt to shame them for alleged sexism.
But we can’t all be heroes.
4. He’s A Constitutional Scholar. French is past president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and was senior counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice and the Alliance Defending Freedom. He’s a Harvard Law graduate with a history of Constitutional litigation. This is better than Hillary Clinton, who thinks the Constitution mandates the corporations be stripped of their speech writes and that women be given the unlimited capacity to kill their children in the womb. This is also better than Donald Trump, who thinks that libel laws should be changed, that the Supreme Court ought to be staffed with prosecutors will target Hillary Clinton, and who sees the Constitution as an impediment to presidential power.
5. He’s A Family Man. One of the first pieces of “vetting” issued about David French came courtesy of stupid idiot Kevin Robillard of Politico, who tweeted this:
— Kevin Robillard (@PoliticoKevin) May 31, 2016
First off, the account itself demonstrates that French didn’t force his wife into this arrangement. It was an agreement between a man deploying to Iraq for years at a time and his wife. Second, marriages do fall apart because of social media usage, particularly when a partner is absent for years at a time. But this makes French weird.
What makes French weirder, according to some on the alt-right, is the fact that French has adopted his daughter Naomi from Ethiopia. Here’s what he wrote:
In 2010 we adopted Naomi, our beautiful youngest daughter. She’s from Ethiopia. For those who have not adopted, it’s difficult to fully communicate the immediate intensity of the connection. I remember looking at her sleeping in her crib the night we arrived back in America and feeling indescribably blessed — the same feeling I had with our older, biological kids (just with more jet lag). And she is one incredible, joy-filled little girl. We grow more thankful for Naomi every day. She is the light of our lives, and we pray every night for the strength and wisdom to be the parents God intends for us to be.
This sort of thing prompts this response from Trump’s alt-right supporters:
— Edgar Ray Killen (@RWDS1488) March 11, 2016
If French’s run does nothing but expose the evil of the alt-right, it will be worthwhile.
Now, granted, French doesn’t have multiple children from multiple different women. He doesn’t leave the raising of those children to his wives. He doesn’t say he’d like to have sex with any of his children.
And granted, French doesn’t enable his spouse’s serial sexual abuse of various strangers.
Still, he seems like a good guy.
6. He’s An Alternative. Conservatives who find Trump appalling and Hillary despicable now have a choice. It’s just as easy for us to tell Trump supporters that a vote for Trump is a vote for Hillary – half-true, given that Trump agrees with a large portion of Hillary’s platform and gave money to her – as for Trump supporters to lecture us on party loyalty. It will be fascinating to hear ardent conservative Trump supporters wail over a prospective French run, explaining to other conservatives how the only real conservatives will vote for a serial liar and adulterer with a history of leftism over an Iraq War veteran with a history of constitutional litigation and conservative thought. If Trump loses, it will also be interesting hearing them blame French supporters — all six of us — for the Orange Godking’s failures. Good luck.
French still hasn’t said whether he’ll run. And all my criticisms of a third party run still hold here. But if we’re going to have a third party candidate, French would be a terrific option. So, jump on the French roll or become French toast. Maybe it’s time for a French revolution.