The Renegade Party’s Underwhelming #FrenchRevolution

Over the Memorial Day weekend, prominent #NeverTrump leader Bill Kristol tweeted that they had an “impressive” candidate with a “real chance” poised to launch a movement conservative approved independent challenge to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the general election. The NeverTrumpers have taken to calling their efforts the Renegade Party, although they are less a party in the political sense than they are in the sense of being a faction.

Kristol has now confirmed that that potential candidate is National Review writer David French. Despite some happy face NeverTrump cheerleading, the response to this news has been, shall we say, underwhelming. French is not without some impressive credentials. He is a Harvard Law School grad (which is a huge plus with the kind of elitists behind NeverTrump), an Iraqi War vet and the author of several books in addition to his writing gig at National Review. The only problem is, no one outside political obsessive circles has heard of him.

I am not a credentialist, especially with regard to third party candidates, so I’m not going to belittle Mr. French’s qualifications for the office of President. If he is thirty five years old and a natural born citizen, then he has all the qualifications he is required by the Constitution to have. In fact, I was in the process of writing a snarky article suggesting that Kristol was aiming too high in looking for a sitting Senator or Governor or other prominent reasonably current politician, and that he should lower his sights and go after a pundit when news of French’s potential candidacy broke. I was even going to suggest that if Kristol was so concerned that there be a neocon approved alternative in November, then perhaps he should consider running himself. The working title of this piece was Welcome to Third Party Land Mr. Kristol. It is now obsolete.

While I’m not going to bash Mr. French’s qualifications lest my words come back to bite me if I am ever touting a third party candidate in the future, I will comment on what his selection says about the state of NeverTrump. On a post on another site where I write under my occasional nom de internet of Red Phillips, I predicted that the candidate would either be a pundit, a general or an ex-politician who has been out of the game for a while. No active politician or person with much to lose was going to sign up for Kristol’s suicide mission and make himself a pariah with much of the Republican Party and the butt of everyone’s jokes. My guess was that the candidate was going to be conservative pundit Erick Erickson. I was not far off. What French’s selection indicates is that no “big name” was willing to step up so one of the NeverTrump brainchildren had to take one for the team. French is a step down in notoriety from Erickson even, who is a fairly well known quantity in conservative circles.

Despite Mr. French’s lack of name recognition with the general public, those of us who have been following the NeverTrump effort, which are probably just as likely to be Trump supporters as Trump detractors, are familiar with Mr. French. He is one of a group of writers at National Review, that includes Kevin Williamson, David Harsanyi, Jay Nordlinger and French himself, among others, who have devoted themselves obsessively to railing against Donald Trump. One of his more memorable efforts was a whiny piece protesting (way too much) the characterization of Donald Trump as an alpha male which I already commented on in my Real Men For Trump article.

Despite protests that it is about conservative purity or Trump’s temperament and demeanor, NeverTrump is really about keeping the Republican Party safe for the favored policies of the globalist, transnational elite – relatively open borders, “free” trade deals and a meddlesome internationalist foreign policy – against the rising tide of populist nationalism that the Trump inspired rebellion in the Heartland represents. If it was really about conservative purity, then the NeverTrumpers would do the logical thing and get behind and work for the only “more conservative” third party of any national prominence, the Constitution Party and its nominee, Darrell Castle.

I have previously divided Trump’s “conservative” critics into two types. Those who recognize that this is what NeverTrump is really about but talk in conservative movement speak to keep the rubes in line. In other words, shills. And those who do not recognize that this is what NeverTrump (and really movement conservative/neoconservative ideology and dogma in general) is all about. In other words, useful idiots. There is a certain earnestness to French’s anti-Trump pleas that made me until now think that maybe he just was not that smart and fell in the useful idiot category. Now that I realized he went to Harvard Law School and has written academic books on British warfare among other esoteric topics, I see that my really not that smart assessment was off. He could not have graduated from Harvard Law and not recognize the keeping “conservatism” and the GOP safe for globalism aspect of the NeverTrump hysteria. Therefore, he is a shill. He is just a particularly convincing one.

There is a part of me that almost feels sorry for Mr. French. He is like the no name actor who is picked to play some big role whose selection is then panned by critics and fans alike. He is clearly taking one for the team. My instinct is still to ask why Billy Boy did not step up. He is over thirty five and was born in New York and even went to Harvard. What is holding him back? But French already publicly emasculated himself when he wrote his afore mentioned pathetic beta male protest that “Trump really isn’t an alpha male,” so what dignity does he have left to preserve anyway? May the French Revolution continue to underwhelm.

This essay was also published at The Economic Populist.

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