Seventeen Candidates Not Enough for Bill Kristol

I’m beginning to wonder if Weekly Standard editor William Kristol is becoming a parody of himself, driven by his remarkable record of faulty predictions to make wilder and wilder forays into foolish speculation. The latest exhibit is a column suggesting that the 2016 Republican presidential field just isn’t large enough. Seriously, I guess:

[W]hat if come October all we have is Bushies lacking all conviction, Trumpers full of passionate intensity, and a bunch of uninspiring also-rans? I devoutly hope this isn’t the case. But what if it is?

Shouldn’t Republicans be open to doing what Democrats are now considering? That is: Welcoming into the race, even drafting into the race if need be, one or two new and potentially superior candidates? After all, if a new candidate or new candidates didn’t take off, the party would be no worse off, and someone from the current field would prevail. If the October surprise candidate caught fire, it would be all the better for the GOP–whether he ultimately prevailed or forced one of the existing candidates to up his game.

Who could such a mysterious dark horse be? Well, it’s not as if every well-qualified contender is already on the field. Mitch Daniels was probably the most successful Republican governor of recent times, with federal executive experience to boot. Paul Ryan is the intellectual leader of Republicans in the House of Representatives, with national campaign experience. The House also features young but tested leaders like Jim Jordan, Trey Gowdy and Mike Pompeo. There is the leading elected representative of the 9/11 generation who has also been a very impressive freshman senator, Tom Cotton. There could be a saner and sounder version of Trump—another businessman who hasn’t held electoral office. And there are distinguished conservative leaders from outside politics; Justice Samuel Alito and General (ret.) Jack Keane come to mind.

Alito for president? Alito for president?

Surely, Kristol’s looking to expand the field to an extent where anything’s possible, up to and including a Kristol candidacy. Or why not just draft a certain former two-term vice president of the United States who is available? And I’m not talking about Poppy Bush.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.