Pardon My French
Daniel J. Flynn
by

He’s bald. He’s bearded. He’s who?

“There will be an independent candidate — an impressive one, with a strong team and a real chance,” Bill Kristol promised over the holiday weekend. The Weekly Standard editor followed the drumroll with a wha-wha-wha.

David French, past president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), possesses no “real chance” to become president of the United States. One wonders if Kristol built up the suspense as a practical joke on the writer for a rival magazine. Not since Geraldo Rivera opened up that vault in Chicago has high drama led to such a massive, bizarre letdown. It’s like finding out that Webster shot J.R.

What he lacks in experience he lacks in money and name recognition. David French enjoys a level of popularity above Eddie Spanish but somewhat below Jimmy the Greek. Even among National Review’s stable of writers, French ranks, at least in terms of reader familiarity, as something of a b-lister — not appearing, for instance, in the list of the magazine’s “notable” contributors at Wikipedia.

Was Jay Nordlinger unavailable?

Fifteen years ago, French’s supporters sought to ban his last name as a descriptive of toast, fries, and other edible delights. Now, for not unrelated reasons, they wish to plaster “French” on billboards and bumperstickers. David French might win more votes from the constituency most zealously backing him if he changed his name to David Freedom.

Trump’s reticence in using the U.S. military as a global policeman, not his incivility or penchant to speak before he thinks, primarily prompts hawks to take a hawkish stance on French’s potential candidacy. But students of war surely know a Little Big Horn when they see one. At best, French makes some Republicans who understandably feel skittish about Trump feel good about themselves in the voting booth. At worst, his sliver of votes withheld from the Republican nominee hands Hillary Clinton the presidency.

Voting as catharsis is for narcissists. We elect presidents to protect our future, not our feelings. And running for president without first running for some other office or running something significant similarly strikes as an advertisement of vanity. And everyone knows this race for the White House is only big enough for one raging narcissist who regards the presidency as an entry level governmental position.

A similar conceit clouds the outlook of the beltway conservatives encouraging this delusional presidential run.

Mistaking the views of a cliquish community inside a 64-mile band of clogged roadway for popular sentiment in the country outside of it, beltway conservatives inflate their influence. They imagine themselves as shaping the opinions of conservatives and quadrennially playing Republican kingmaker. So, imagine the terror of witnessing the rise of a candidate who not only stood them up at their annual CPAC gathering but dared call their bluff on immigration and challenged the orthodoxy of a busybody foreign policy that made the last Republican president and his party terribly unpopular. If nothing else, Trump’s success screams “the emperor has no clothes” at the ruling clique that rules in the way the D&D dungeonmaster imagines he does. French’s failure would further emphasize their impotence.

Trump’s beltway conservative detractors, who have ample grounds to criticize the candidate as a Johnny-come-lately to the Right, overlook their own role in creating the monster they aim to slay. Lockstep support for big-government George W. Bush, the architect of the Massachusetts model to replace the namesake of Obamacare, and the current president’s longtime congressional yes-man John Boehner prompted the grassroots to question their judgment.

David French seems like a good guy and he writes well. He served as an Army JAG officer in Iraq. He did admirable work for FIRE holding college administrators’ feet to the fire on free speech. He writes about Game of Thrones, and ladies with Mario Bros.-mustaches invading the stall next to your daughter, and ISIS, and safe spaces, and much else. He’s married with three kids (beats married with two ex-wives), including an adopted African-American daughter. Like so many of his rival’s supporters and unlike so many of his, French lives in Murica — Tennessee, to be exact (That Murican ’nuff for y’all?).

None of this qualifies him to serve as leader of the free world.

Daniel J. Flynn
Daniel J. Flynn
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Daniel J. Flynn, a senior editor of The American Spectator, is the author of Cult City: Harvey Milk, Jim Jones, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco (ISI Books, 2018), The War on Football (Regnery, 2013), Blue Collar Intellectuals (ISI Books, 2011), A Conservative History of the American Left (Crown Forum, 2008), Intellectual Morons (Crown Forum, 2004), and Why the Left Hates America (Prima Forum, 2002). His articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, New York Post, City Journal, National Review, and his own website, www.flynnfiles.com.   
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