As Donald Trump stomped his way to the Republican nomination in recent months, Bill Kristol has been stuck on the first stage of grief: denial.
While it becomes ever-clearer that Trump and Hillary Clinton will face off as history’s most unlikeable presidential choices, the so-called wrongest man in politics has repeatedly teased the prospect of an “independent” candidate mounting a challenge—at Kristol’s behest, of course.
At first Kristol was smitten with criminal-justice anti-reformer Tom Cotton, but that went nowhere. Months later, the neocon thought leader backed “The Boy Tweeter of the Platte,” Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse. The energy for that dissipated before it could form. And then it was the revisiting of a Mitt Romney candidacy. Because that worked out so well in 2012.
Over the holiday weekend, the Weekly Standard chief confidently tweeted: “There will be an independent candidate—an impressive one, with a strong team and a real chance.”
And so, as Bloomberg Politics reported Tuesday evening, he appears to be going with the most devastating pick of all: National Review blogger David French. A conservative thinker with such strong name recognition he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page.
He does, however, fit the fan-fiction archetype of a Bill Kristol candidate.
According to his bio, French is a constitutional lawyer who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he was awarded the Bronze Star. He lives in solid-red Tennessee with his wife and three kids. He once contributed to a New York Times best-selling book about fighting the so-called Islamic State widely known as ISIS.
He even has the Romney seal of approval. “I know David French to be an honorable, intelligent and patriotic person,” the former presidential candidate wrote on Twitter. “I look forward to following what he has to say.”
“To say that he would be a better and a more responsible president than Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump,” Kristol recently wrote of French, “is to state a truth that would become self-evident as more Americans got to know him.”
Assuming Americans ever got to know an obscure conservative staff writer, they’d learn that he’s pretty much your average neoconservative thinker: eager for military interventionism abroad; tough on crime; and sneering towards all things “cultural liberalism,” but with a distinctly intellectual posture.
Like a good Kristol-approved third-party alternative, French cheers the acquittal of an officer involved in Freddie Gray’s death; repeatedly parades the widely debunked “Ferguson effect” myth about a “war on cops”; exhibits a particular obsession with painting transgender individuals as “mentally unstable,” “troubled,” and “absurd” people; dutifully deflects the conversation over racial tensions to calling for abortion bans; and seems to believe that gays simply seek to “redefine sin as freedom.”
Perhaps his most shining moment, however, came following the death of beloved rocker Prince. As a nation grieved, Kristol’s champion-in-waiting offered up a verbose essay full of faux-intellectual pomposity—invoking Marx and “post-virtue culture”—to whine about Americans daring to consider the beloved rocker a “hero.”
Because there’s one thing that Americans of all stripes can agree on: musical geniuses are the worst.
Anyway, just because Kristol is allegedly taking French seriously doesn’t mean this bearded intellectual is all too serious about himself.
As recently as last week, French, too, was pleading with Mitt Romney to mount another failed campaign.