During Memorial Day weekend, The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol got under Donald Trump’s skin by announcing, “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.”
It worked. Trump fired off three tweets decrying the possibility of an independent run, including one that referred to Republicans — members of the party he is aiming to lead — in the third person. “[I]f the GOP can’t control their own, then they are not a party. Be tough, R’s!,” he wrote.
But there was no announcement over the weekend. Kristol, who — agree with him or not — has managed to expertly troll people for decades without them catching on, drew attention to Trump’s lack of composure, “I hope my mention of an independent candidate didn’t distract [Trump] while paying respects during whichever Memorial Day ceremony he attended.”
In any case, late yesterday Mark Halperin and John Heilemann reported that Kristol might be convincing conservative attorney David French to launch an independent run. Kristol himself made the suggestion last week, though only the Trump-bitten James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal seemed to notice.
French, for his part, hasn’t announced a candidacy or said anything on the matter as of press time. He’s a man of impressive pedigree — a constitutional lawyer, an expert on religious freedom, author of a book on how to defeat ISIS, an Iraqi War veteran with a Bronze Star — and beloved by all who know him as a charitable and gracious family man. He broke the story on politicized prosecution run amok in Wisconsin, among many other excellent pieces he’s written on culture, philosophy, religion and the law.
The Daily Wire summarized 5 Things You Need To Know About David French:
1. French graduated from Harvard Law School, and served in Iraq in Diyala Province as Squadron Judge Advocate for the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, where he was awarded the Bronze Star. He is a major in the United States Army Reserve (IRR).
2. He lives in Tennessee with his wife Nancy, a New York Times best-selling author, and their three children.
3. He is the past president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), and has defended religious liberty on college campuses, serving as a senior counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice and the Alliance Defending Freedom.
4. He has written the New York Times-bestselling Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore, as well as Home and Away: A Story of Family in a Time of War and A Season for Justice: Defending the Rights of the Christian Church, Home, and School.
5. In 2012 French was awarded the American Conservative Union’s Ronald Reagan Award.
He’s not a candidate, but the media reaction to the mere mention of a possible candidacy explains much about how the country has become saddled with such embarrassing representatives of their respective parties. It’s even more illustrative of why good people don’t run for office in this media environment.
The reaction you see when good men & women try to run for office is why we end up with bad men & women running for office.
Will Antonin (@Will_Antonin) June 1, 2016
Here are three examples of idiotic reactions to the news that David French might run for the top office in our land of self-government.
1) ‘But He’s Happily Married!’
Politico’s Ken Vogel came out of the gate with the declaration that the idea of the outsider candidate was “crazy.” But that was the high point of Politico tweeting on the story. One Kevin Robillard’s immediate journalistic instinct was to go gotcha-hunting. And boy wait until you see what he found!
Except this is the stupidest critique imaginable. It’s about how French and his wife Nancy came up with boundaries for their marriage while David was deployed. They would avoid temptation found on social media. What Puritans!
First off, it’s downright sexist and clueless to say that a husband and wife mutually agreeing to boundaries in their marriage is about the husband not “letting” his wife do something. There’s no command, so why say “let”? And if you know anybody in the military, you know that marital implosion is a big problem facing men and women who deploy. “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been hard on military marriages, with the risk of divorce rising directly in relation to the length of time enlisted service members have been deployed to combat zones,” according to a RAND Corporation study. As for Facebook restrictions, it’s a factor in a sizable percentage of divorces (“Stay Off Social Media (Or Risk Divorce), New Survey Says“).
Maybe Robillard was deployed for a length of time while married and finds such restrictions laughable. But I doubt it. Also, after he tweeted this stupidity, he said that a female reporter said to him, “If I slept with every guy with whom I emailed about politics, I would be a huuuge slut.”
I know journalists are ignorant about most of what they cover, but let’s just go ahead and add “Why do my marriages keep failing?” to the list. It’s not that people in good marriages would cheat with everyone they encounter if there were no rules on how to encourage fidelity, but how to protect one’s self from cheating with just one person. A faithful marriage takes a ton of work and even in happy marriages, one is at risk of failing to be faithful in thought, word, and deed. The best guard against it is to build a culture of trust and to institute practices to avoid temptation. One good word for a marriage without mutually agreed upon rules is “divorced.”
But of all the times to mock people for having a happy and faithful marriage, journalists at Politico are choosing now? Really? David and Nancy French coming out of a deployment with an intact marriage is something we need to highlight and scoff at, deceptively editing their actual story to turn it into some kind of B.S. “War on women” silliness, while Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the top contenders for president? I know the media hate covering it, but Hillary Clinton has been in a marriage with an unfaithful husband whose sexual harassment of women she helped enable for decades. The media aren’t interested in Bill Clinton’s palling around with billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein or blowing the whistle on alleged continued infidelities. They just dutifully quote Hillary Clinton’s claim that Bill Clinton’s most annoying trait is that he reads before bedtime.
As for the media coverage of the twice-divorced, thrice-married Donald Trump, it’s mostly been cowering in fear that he might be mean to them if they bring up character issues or that he might force them to cover the Clintons’ exploits, to their shame.
So it is in this milieu that attacking the Frenches for having a good marriage comes off particularly disgusting.
2) ‘I’m Not Well Read Enough To Know Him’
First place in this category goes to Dylan Matthews of Vox, who made the publication’s ignorance of French the literal headline. I’m not joking:
We get it. You’re 12. You think history began around 2002 or so. You work for a publication that once claimed there was a bridge between Gaza and the West Bank in an article titled, “Everything You Need To Know About Israel-Palestine.” Even worse, the Wikipedia that you rely on to source 100 percent of your stories wasn’t helping you on French. It’s hard! We get it! But still.
3) ‘He’s Written Stuff I’m Not Smart Enough to Consider!’
Matthews of course parroted Robillard’s big scoop on how marriages work. But that’s not all. He also surfed the internet long enough to declare that French’s views do not pass muster with the geniuses over at Vox. A thoughtful piece on women in the military that deviated from the groupthink in the media elite was described as French being “very afraid” of putting women in combat (sigh).
Should French actually run, his nuanced arguments will sail over the heads of a good chunk of our media that are ready at any moment to revert to a “what about your gaffes?” posture with any and all conservative candidates.
Over at The Daily Beast, a staffer went on the gotcha hunt for a few minutes before (pompously!) declaring French a “zero” and a “nobody” whose writings are full of “faux-intellectual pomposity.” An interesting column French wrote on the occasion of Prince’s death about overreaction to pop stars’ deaths was childishly described as “whin(ing) about Americans daring to consider the beloved rocker a ‘hero’.” This despite the fact that the column wasn’t pompous or difficult to understand at all, and French repeatedly praised Prince as a musical genius. It’s so much better to take sides and condemn and play gotcha than to learn from those outside the narrow, rigidly held doctrinal views of the elite media that so many are desperate to conform to, of course.
Perhaps my favorite example was given by Dan Sinker, head of the Knight-Mozilla Open News project. He wrote:
Yes, you found him out, Dan Sinker. You gotcha’d this guy good! Except, a) you quite obviously didn’t read or in any way engage the argument in the piece, which is that identity politics work as the mirror image of white supremacy, and b) you really picked the wrong guy to play gotcha racism with.
David French is known for writing beautifully on race. The piece above is fine, but his critique of conservative reaction to the Trayvon Martin killing in Commentary stands out as a good example.
Further, I know it’s major news now that mainstream journalists are being harassed with racist and anti-Semitic insults on Twitter for not submitting to Donald Trump, but David French wrote about the alt-right movement all the way back on September 17. In response, his multi-racial family was treated to insults and threats. Nancy French wrote on the experience in The Washington Post on September 18, 2015. “What it’s like to be a white conservative on Twitter when you have a black child” simply must be read. It’s horrifying.
French hasn’t committed federal crimes. He’s not facing litigation over fraudulent businesses. He’s not thrice married or in a dysfunctional relationship. He has a coherent political philosophy and is an outsider in every sense. Perhaps most importantly for our purposes, he has not declared a candidacy. Of course the insecure and juvenile Twitter and journalism mobs (but I repeat myself) can’t handle thoughtful engagement with such a man. Far easier for many of them to mock in an effort to feel better about themselves and their failing moral and intellectual frameworks.
Should David French run for office, it’s fine to apply some of that famous scrutiny and toughness that our hard-hitting media have applied to professional politicians such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton or long-time public figures such as Donald Trump. Until such time, the above reactions are a sad testament to a journalism profession designed to yield low-quality candidates such as Trump and Clinton.