Bill Kristol has been writing, speaking, and tweeting out promises, promises, promises that have had #NeverTrump advocates like myself on the edges of our seats.
Just a heads up over this holiday weekend: There will be an independent candidate--an impressive one, with a strong team and a real chance.— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) May 29, 2016
Yesterday we got the first confusing whispers and a sort-of announcement about who his independent candidate for president might be.I'm traveling, so hadn't realized I'd so upset @realDonaldTrump. I'm sorry the mere mention of an independent candidate has so unnerved him.— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) May 30, 2016
Mitt Romney tweeted: “I know David French to be an honorable, intelligent and patriotic person. I look forward to following what he has to say.”
David French tweeted: "I'm incredibly humbled by and grateful for the many expressions of support -- thank you."
The shock, for many of us, is still wearing off.
Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post writes,
"Let me begin with the obvious: French deserves our thanks and gratitude for his distinguished service. He is plainly a patriot, and a courageous one at that. His writing is elegant, and he is beyond question a thoughtful, serious fellow....Nevertheless, if French is the alternative to the major-party nominees, the task to establish credibility as a presidential candidate will be daunting and widely seen as impossible. As a candidate for House or Senate, he might through hard work and retail politics sway voters, impressing them with his intellect and service record. Having missed the entire primary season, however, and lacking any name recognition or any experience in elected office, his task, at best, becomes extremely difficult."
But to these criticisms, Bill Kristol presciently, preemptively replied:
"Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are manifestly among the worst presidential candidates ever to be presented to the American people by their respective parties. Yet our politicians are paralyzed, the donors are uncertain, and the smart set in general looks on with world-weary gaze and looks down with disdainful aspect at those who would like to provide the American people with a better alternative.
"The American people know better. A high-quality national poll conducted recently by Data Targeting finds an astonishing 58 percent of the public very dissatisfied (34 percent) or somewhat dissatisfied (24 percent) with the current Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. By contrast, only 9 percent of respondents say they're very satisfied and 21 percent are somewhat satisfied. If you add the 11 percent who are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied or who are unsure to the 58 percent who are dissatisfied, you get 69 percent of the public as a pool from which an independent candidate can prospect. And indeed that's why 65 percent of respondents say in answering another question they are very willing (22 percent), pretty willing (10 percent), or somewhat willing (33 percent) to support someone who's neither the Republican nor the Democratic party's nominee. Furthermore, in a ballot test, when given a choice between Trump, Clinton, and an independent candidate, the independent gets 21 percent support, within hailing range of Trump's 34 percent and Clinton's 31 percent—which makes it very likely the independent candidate could get into the fall debates with the two major-party nominees. And possible that he or she could go on to win the presidency."
All true. So it becomes a philosophical battle between the optimists and the cynics. But if you've been paying attention to the #DraftRomney movement, then like me, you likely have an even more far-fetched optimism that keeps your engine running. We are the crazies who dared to hope Mitt Romney would finally, reluctantly, and gloriously be drafted by all of America to become our president. Experience, intelligence, integrity, priorities, civility, spirituality, charity, success, and thoughtfulness all wrapped up in one Energizer Bunny of a man. We found in him the statesmanship and the servant spirit of the founders.
Like Glenn Beck once said,
"We just started to look. And the stories we found, I’m telling you, I apologize to Mitt Romney and his family for being so blind and not seeing who he was. That does not mean I’m going to agree with all of his policies, but I am blind. I have been saying we need to find George Washington, a man of true character and honor and decency. When you watch the show on Friday, you will ‑‑ I’m convinced you will feel exactly the same way I do.”If Mitt Romney was our George Washington in 2012, when people finally started to look at his personal life and to see the kind of man he is, he is even more our George Washington today, as he is repeatedly implored of, begged, pleaded with to take on the burden of another presidential run. Just one more time, please. For the little guy! But like George Washington, Mitt Romney is battle weary and ready to retire.
And yet, when American goodness and principles needed to be upheld, both men have had the same basic response:
"I wanted my grandkids to see that I simply couldn't ignore what Mr. Trump was saying and doing, which revealed a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world."
"Friends warned me, ‘Don't speak out, stay out of the fray,' because criticizing Mr. Trump will only help him by giving him someone else to attack. They were right. I became his next target, and the incoming attacks have been constant and brutal."
"...our presidents time and again have called on us to rise to the occasion. John F. Kennedy asked us to consider what we could do for our country. Lincoln drew upon the better angels of our nature to save the union.
I understand the anger Americans feel today. In the past, our presidents have channeled that anger, and forged it into resolve, into endurance and high purpose, and into the will to defeat the enemies of freedom. Our anger was transformed into energy directed for good.
"Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes. He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants, he calls for the use of torture and for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit first amendment freedom of the press. This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.
"America has greatness ahead. This is a time for choosing. God bless us to choose a nominee who will make that vision a reality."(Read his full speech here.)
(From The Real George Washington, from the National Center for Constitutional Studies)
He hoped, "to pass the remainder of life in a state of undisturbed repose." Before that retirement began, however, he expressed a desire "to offer my sentiments respecting some important subjects... and to give my final blessing to that country in whose service I have spent the prime of my life, for whose sake I have consumed so many anxious days and watchful nights, and whose happiness, being extremely dear to me, will always constitute no inconsiderable part of my own."Our liberty is indeed our precious foundation. And what is liberty where there are no choices?
Believing as he did that the moment was pivotal, Washington felt that for him to remain silent on certain important issues "would be a crime." He then listed four foundational elements "which I humbly conceive are essential to the well-being, I may even venture to say, to the existence of the United States as an independent power":
"First, an indissoluble union of the states under one federal head.
Secondly, a sacred regard to public justice.
Thirdly, the adoption of a proper peace establishment.
And, fourthly, the prevalence of that pacific and friendly disposition among the people of the United States which will induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies, to make those mutual concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity, and, in some instances, to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the community.
These are the pillars on which the glorious fabric of our independence and national character must be supported; liberty is the basis, and whoever would dare to sap the foundation or overturn the structure, under whatever specious pretexts he may attempt it, will merit the bitterest execration and the severest punishment which can be inflicted by his injured country."
As Paul Ryan said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal:
"Think of all the things you get to do in your life, whether it's buying something, whether it's ordering movie tickets, signing up for classes. You name what you can do on this thing, and you want to subscribe to a political philosophy that denies you choices, that denies you the ability to customize your life in things like health care, education, and retirement? So why on earth would a young person, who enjoys the liberty and freedom of today's society and technology, subscribe to a political philosophy that says: "There are smarter people than you who can lord over us in bureaucracies in Washington and make decisions for us on how our economy is run and how our communities are organized"?Most of us are sitting in our living rooms at night scratching our chins, and wondering at the state of the presidential race, KNOWING that this (Trump vs. Clinton) is not the best America has to offer! And so steps forward a brave citizen who has been supporting good men and women, and good principles in his writings for some time, a man who, with his wife, founded Evangelicals for Mitt, and did everything he could to get us our George Washington. Just as Abraham Lincoln honored and revered the goodness in George Washington, David French recognizes and promotes the goodness in Mitt Romney. He recently wrote to suggest a Mitt Romney 2016 candidacy:
"at this moment, American voters face a choice between two historically corrupt, dishonest, and incompetent politicians. . . . Given the stakes of the election, to simply leave the race to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is to guarantee a terrible presidency marked by incompetence and cronyism. There is just hope—however slim—of avoiding this national disaster: America needs a third option."In a passionate rebuttal of the apathy and resignation Americans have expressed during this election, Bill Kristol compares our current prospects to an election in a third world country. And then he demands we take a look at what could be, if we'd open our minds and hearts to decent citizens of this, our beloved nation. In the process, he suggests one man in particular, the very David French who humbly endorsed Mitt Romney just a week earlier:
Take David French, the author of the aforementioned article making the case for Romney. The fortysomething French is a best-selling author, an attorney, and a combat veteran of Iraq. A graduate of David Lipscomb College in Nashville and then of Harvard Law School, his legal practice made him one of the nation's leading defenders of free speech on campus. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including, most recently, Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can't Ignore. In 2007, having volunteered for military service, French deployed to Iraq, serving in Diyala Province as Squadron Judge Advocate for the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, where he was awarded the Bronze Star. He lives with his wife and children in Columbia, Tennessee, and is a writer for National Review.
I happen to know David French. To say that he would be a better and a more responsible president than Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is to state a truth that would become self-evident as more Americans got to know him. There are others like him. There are thousands of Americans who—despite a relative lack of fame or fortune—would be manifestly superior to our current choices. And there are many, many others who stand ready to help whoever emerges to have the basic resources, assistance, and infrastructure to mount a credible effort.
Would such an effort be extraordinary? Yes, indeed. But America is an extraordinary nation. And as our most extraordinary (and one of our most unlikely) president remarked, "I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am a living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father's child has. It is in order that each of you may have through this free government which we have enjoyed, an open field and a fair chance for your industry, enterprise and intelligence—that you may all have equal privileges in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspirations—it is for this that the struggle should be maintained. . . . The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel."
That was Abe Lincoln. Clearly, David French feels as President Lincoln--an unlikely Senator from Illinois who became our most unifying president--did, that the nation is worth fighting for, however steep the hill to the battlefield. Like Abraham Lincoln, David French has studied the law, sought every opportunity to serve in leadership positions in the country, and written copiously about essential freedoms in America. Could it be that what we need today is another Abraham Lincoln? After all, the nation has never been so polarized. Or has it? An articulate lover of freedom with faith in God, respect for the Constitution, and the record to prove it could be just the thing America needs.
One thing is certain. David French is not in this for the glory, but to answer a call nobody else would.
George Washington recorded in his diary, "I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity, and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express, set out for New York...with the best dispositions to render service to my country in obedience to its call, but with less hope of answering its expectations."
Maybe Mr. French is our George Washington, after all. This is what he tweeted:
All the normal political rules apply. The conventional wisdom has been right. An underdog can't win. Right?— David French (@DavidAFrench) June 1, 2016
Please read David French's Memorial Day tribute to our fallen soldiers, Courage is Never Wasted.
Here is an excerpt:
"But I also know that courage is never truly wasted. It returns incalculable value to brothers-in-arms, to the military, and to the nation. We’ve seen throughout history that cowardice is contagious — but so are honor and courage, even (and sometimes especially) honor and courage displayed in a 'losing' cause."Bill Kristol rallies us to support a citizen candidate with real principle and an impressive record of service. Having been denied our George Washington, will we embrace or spurn our Abraham Lincoln?
"So we who refuse to acquiesce in this horrible choice, we renegade citizens who put country and not party first . . . in this respect, and only in this respect, we echo an earlier renegade: We disdain to conceal our views and aims. Let the ruling parties tremble at a popular revolution. We have nothing to lose but our partisan chains.
We have a nation to win."