Conservative journalist Bill Kristol has been in the news lately, thanks to his attempt to arrange for a more traditionally conservative challenger to counter the bellicose rhetoric coming from the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, former reality show star Donald Trump. Would Bill Kristol run for president? It's an interesting question, and one that deserves analysis.
After teaching political philosophy and American politics, Kristol cut his teeth as chief of staff to Ronald Reagan's secretary of education, William Bennett. He then became Dan Quayle's chief of staff when he served as vice president under George H. W. Bush. After Bush lost his bid for another term, Kristol became a founding member of The Weekly Standard. He is currently the editor of the publication, which counts Australian media magnate Rupert Murdoch among its financiers. Given all this, it should also come as little shock that Kristol has been a regular contributor to Fox News for years.
Recently, the political commentator has been making headlines himself. First, there were reports that Kristol was meeting with Mitt Romney, the one-time presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor. Then, Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska had his name dropped alongside, or possible independently from, Romney. Now, his fellow writer (and an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran) David French's name is on everyone's lips.
But could all of that just be misdirection while Kristol himself prepares to make a last-ditch bid for the presidency? That might be a stretch. Although it wouldn't be outside of his skill set to run for the White House — the man is arguably more qualified than He-Whom-I-Will-Not-Name — if anything, it still is too much, too soon.
If Kristol did decide to make his first entree into electoral politics this year, he would probably have more success in a supporting role. Vice President Kristol, anyone? But in all likelihood, he'd be able to better serve his interests by facilitating an independent run than by actually getting his own hands dirty. It runs the risk of coming off like a vanity project that doesn't have legs beyond an initial few news cycles.
There is also the question of whether or not independent voters have been sufficiently courted. Trump and Sanders both have been able to motivate that demographic; the idea that either of them will start shedding their fervent core supporters isn't that plausible. Rather, Kristol and co. seem to be trying to corner the market on what Nixon called the "Silent Majority"; those who supposedlydon't speak their opinions or are involved, but come together under the guise of patriotic duty to save the day. Yet another almost unbelievable development in a cycle that has been anything but typical.