As a general rule, I counsel against optimism. In fact, i tell people that the wise course is to imagine the worst case and then figure that to be the best case. That said, there are reasons to be cheerful sometimes. This story floating around the Imperial Capital is one example.
Republican leaders adamantly opposed to Donald J. Trump’s candidacy are preparing a 100-day campaign to deny him the presidential nomination, starting with an aggressive battle in Wisconsin’s April 5 primary and extending into the summer, with a delegate-by-delegate lobbying effort that would cast Mr. Trump as a calamitous choice for the general election.
Recognizing that Mr. Trump has seized a formidable advantage in the race, they say that an effort to block him would rely on an array of desperation measures, the political equivalent of guerrilla fighting.
There is no longer room for error or delay, the anti-Trump forces say, and without a flawlessly executed plan of attack, he could well become unstoppable.
But should that effort falter, leading conservatives are prepared to field an independent candidate in the general election, to defend Republican principles and offer traditional conservatives an alternative to Mr. Trump’s hard-edged populism. They described their plans in interviews after Mr. Trump’s victories last Tuesday in Florida and three other states.
The names of a few well-known conservatives have been offered up in recent days as potential third-party standard-bearers, and William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, has circulated a memo to a small number of conservative allies detailing the process by which an independent candidate could get on general-election ballots across the country.
Among the recruits under discussion are Tom Coburn, a former Oklahoma senator who has told associates that he would be open to running, and Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who was suggested as a possible third-party candidate at a meeting of conservative activists on Thursday in Washington.
Bill Kristol is not a dumb guy. He is not much of an American at this point, but he is not stupid. His interest in America is only as a source of men and money to attack the Muslims. That’s what neo-conservatism has been reduced to in the post-Cold War era. They will go along with any crackpot scheme that lets them throw bombs at the muzzies.
Still, Kristol is not stupid. He know there’s no chance he could even launch a third party, much less stop Trump from getting the nomination. This is proof of that. He’s hoping to deal himself back in the game with this largely worthless threat. The hope is that Team Trump, through an intermediary, will make nice with these guys, maybe promising gigs in the Leviathan if he wins.
An important component of the commentariat is the fiction of having influence. Kristol get paid largely on the myth that he is a mover and shaker in Republican Party politics. He made millions off taking credit for Sarah Palin being named McCain’s running mate. Trump is putting the family business at risk so Kristol is scheming for a way back in and this is his gambit.
This suggests that the pros are now coming around to the idea that Trump will not only win the nomination, but win the general election so they want in on the action. I have no idea how this game of chicken will play out, but the numbers suggest Trump is in a position to wait and let these guys vent their spleen for a while longer. They want in so he just needs to win and then make a deal.
There’s always the possibility that Kristol has simply lost his fastball. That happens to all of us. He is closer to being worm food now than his prime. The fact he is talking about comical losers like Perry and the near-dead Coburn suggests maybe all of them have lost their marbles, but that’s not the way to bet. Kristol is the Hari Seldon of neo-conservatism and even in his dotage, he probably has more on the ball than 90% of the schemers in the game.