The impact of Donald Trump's blistering campaign has the grand poobahs of the GOP shaking in their boots so far. His outspoken xenophobia has revved up the very extreme right wing base to volcanic heights, but has made the party apparatchiks very queasy.
Bill Kristol, who was the one that campaigned for Sarah Palin to be John McCain's V.P. choice in 2008 after meeting her on a NRO Alaskan Cruise, is one of those nervous Nellies and he's hoping for an October surprise candidate to magically appear and change their fortunes. You'll never guess who he's rooting for. (OK, you know because it's in the title of my piece, but it's still so wacky that I'm eager to see something like that happen.)
On the other hand, it may be that the lesson of the Trump surge—like that of the shorter-lived Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann boomlets in 2011—is that the rest of the field isn't what it should be. We'll have a better sense of that in a couple of months. But what 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?
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.↓ Story continues below ↓
None of them now plans to run. None of them wants to run. None of them may be required to run for the sake of the country. But isn't it worth at this point pushing the door a bit ajar?
Jack Keane is about as dry a candidate as you can find. Not that Trey Gowdy or Tom Cotton running for the presidency in 2016 is not funny in of itself, but Judge Alito? Hahahahahahahahahah
Scott Lemieux hopes it does really happen:
“Tested” doesn’t help much given the “failed.” Also, seriously, Trey Gowdy? [Insert Banghazi acrostic here.]But all this is a sideshow. I present to you know the most correct thing that Bill Kristol will ever write:
And there are distinguished conservative leaders from outside politics; Justice Samuel Alito…
Let me be clear: I cannot possibly endorse this more strongly. Alito should run. He should be the nominee. The discussion should be over. And needless to say the ticket should be balanced with the nation’s most prominent African-American conservative. ALITO/THOMAS ’16! Make it happen.