Could Bill Kristol’s Phantom Candidate Become President?
Over the weekend, while you were out having fun, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol doubled down (that seems to be the phrase of the year) on his effort to entice someone (anyone) to run as a conservative Republican against Trump. While everyone else has fallen in line, we expected that Kristol would, too.
But Sunday, Kristol not only said he wanted a candidate, he said he HAS one.
A serious independent candidate will step up to challenge presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and likely Democratic standard-bearer Hillary Clinton, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol suggested on Sunday.
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
The wording is a little fuzzy. Did he mean “heads up over the weekend,” or “there will be a candidate over the weekend”? Since we didn’t hear more from him, is it possible he meant Libertarian Party candidate, Gary Johnson? He officially became the Libertarian candidate “over the weekend.”
It would not be much of a stretch. Libertarians are for small government, low taxes, and fiscal responsibility. And the Libertarian presidential and vice presidential candidates are former Republican governors. Of course, Bill Kristol is the original NeoCon, so he wouldn’t like the idea of a candidate who doesn’t want foreign entanglements.
Trump was not pleased, as evidenced by his twitter feed:
“Bill Kristol has been wrong for 2yrs-an embarrassed loser, but if the GOP can’t control their own, then they are not a party. Be tough, R’s!”
“The Republican Party has to be smart & strong if it wants to win in November. Can’t allow lightweights to set up a spoiler Indie candidate!”
Kristol acknowledges that pushing an independent to run against his own party is unorthodox, but he says it’s an unorthodox year, and extreme measures are required.
The anti-Trump forces were consistently playing defense against the insurgent, relying on a conventional playbook that had stood them in good stead for generations. Trump plowed right through their defenses.
Ironically, Trump is now hoping that the political class remains stubbornly committed to one of its oldest conventions: that an independent candidate cannot win the presidency, that it is foolish to try, and so the only thing left isto acquiesce to Trump.
If the shoe were on the other foot, would Trump give up? Of course not. He’d defy this seemingly inviolable principle and forge ahead. And who knows? Maybe he’d win. If his candidacy teaches us anything, it should be that the conventional rules of politics apply until they no longer do.
By the way, the “phantom candidate” isn’t Mitt Romney, according to his 2012 spokesperson.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is not Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol’s mystery independent candidate for the presidency, Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign’s national spokesman confirmed to Breitbart News on Monday night. . .
Williams technically does not speak for Romney anymore but remains in close contact with many in Romney’s orbit. Two of Romney’s official staffers, Leah Malone and Kelli Harrison, have not responded to inquiries seeking confirmation that Romney is not Kristol’s independent candidate. But for Williams to speak out so affirmatively is a sign that Romney is not even considering such an independent bid, as if he were he would be attempting to realign and reactivate much of his old political network.
The common wisdom is that Kristol is playing with fire, as in this rant from Breitbart, beginning with another Kristol tweet:
He also said, “Those accused of betraying GOP by opposing Trump can take heart from P. Henry 251 years ago today: ‘If this be treason, make the most of it!’”
This fatuous invocation of an American patriot to justify the betrayal typifies the arrogant disregard for political realities shared by all those involved in a defection that could produce even greater disasters than the Obama era’s 400,000 deaths by jihad and 20 million refugees across the Middle East.
A week earlier, a “Never Trump” diatribe appeared in National Review, written by Charles Murray. To summarize why “Trump is unfit outside the normal parameters” to be president, Murray cited these words by NY Times columnist David Brooks:
Donald Trump is epically unprepared to be president. He has no realistic policies, no advisers, no capacity to learn. His vast narcissism makes him a closed fortress. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and he’s uninterested in finding out. He insults the office Abraham Lincoln once occupied by running for it with less preparation than most of us would undertake to buy a sofa … He is a childish man running for a job that requires maturity. He is an insecure boasting little boy whose desires were somehow arrested at age 12.
This is a perfect instance of “Trump derangement syndrome,” the underlying animus that motivates Kristol and his destructive cohorts. Dismissing Trump as an ignoramus and a stunted twelve-year-old is the stuff of schoolyard put-downs, not a serious critique of someone with Trump’s considerable achievements. Yet this is typical of Trump’s diehard opponents on the right. . .
The Kristol attack on the Republican Party and its presumptive candidate Donald Trump is an attack on all Americans and needs to be seen in that light.
Democrats are probably high-fiving. Trump is still fighting with the GOP establishment. The Libertarian Party is polling at ten percent or over. And now, Kristol says he already has another “third-party” candidate set to go.
What those Democrats don’t realize is that Gary Johnson could easily up his numbers to 15%, and an aggressive conservative establishment candidate could easily get 25%. Trump could still get 30% or more. That would only leave 30% for Hillary.
More importantly, and most consequentially, the goal would just be to keep Hillary from getting 270 Electoral College votes, as we said on another page. Then the overwhelmingly Republican House of Representatives would choose their favorite among the top three vote-getters. And that wouldn’t be Hillary or Trump.
Kristol is not as crazy as he may seem. . .