Who is David French? And why is he running?

Yesterday, news leaked that David French is Bill Kristol’s mystery candidate. He has not yet declared himself a candidate, but he is Kristol’s man. French is a veteran of the Iraq war, a recipient of the Bronze Star, and a constitutional lawyer. He’s the author of seven books, an adoptive father, and a stalwart conservative. He is not a career politician. He also happens to be one of my favorite writers—which is why I link to his National Review articles continuously.

In 2014, French delivered a commencement speech for a Christian home school group. The address says everything you need to know about why French would volunteer for the meat grinder of a presidential campaign. And make no mistake. That is what this campaign is going to be for him and his family. You should read the whole thing, but this excerpt says it all:

Embracing our responsibilities means leading with our actions, not just our words. Your words do not make you good. Your words do not make you virtuous. Your words do not make you admirable.

We live in an era where people say, with a straight face, that they are fighting for “social justice” by doing things like “speaking out” with a . . . hashtag. Yep, a hashtag. Or an Instagram post. Or a Facebook share.

Don’t confuse speaking with doing. There’s no shortage of Christians who wring their hands declaring, for example, that the church doesn’t do enough for widows and orphans, for the least of these. Wringing one’s hands about the church’s deficiencies — even apologizing for them to your secular friends (something that does nothing for the church but everything for you) — doesn’t put food in a single mouth.

Think the church doesn’t do enough for widows and orphans? Then care for widows and orphans.

Think your generation doesn’t do enough to serve your fellow man? Then serve your fellow man.

I’ll never forget when the reality of my own deficiencies hit me between the eyes. I was living in Philadelphia with my wife and (then) two kids — we have three now — and life was good. We had a great penthouse apartment, I had a great job “speaking out” for constitutional liberties like free speech and religious freedom, and — while not by any means wealthy — we certainly had enough money to enjoy life.

One evening I was reading the newspaper and came across two stories about the Iraq War. It was 2005, and the war was going badly. Sectarian violence was spinning out of control, and Army recruiting was suffering. It seemed that not many people wanted to join the military and be shipped off to fight a losing war.

The first article detailed the Army’s effort to recruit older soldiers. I read it, looked at my wife in disgust, and said something like, “America is just too soft to fight a long war.”

I kept reading on to the second story — describing a firefight in an Iraqi town — and read how an officer was wounded (a man about my age) and used a reporter’s satellite phone to literally call home, to tell his wife and two children that he was hurt but that he’d be ok.

That’s when my conscience stopped me cold. America wasn’t too soft to fight a long war. I was too soft.

And I had no excuse. Think about that wounded officer. Did he love his wife less than I loved my wife? Did he love his kids less than I love my kids? Yet he was risking everything, and I was risking nothing.

So I enlisted. I became a JAG officer in the United States Army and deployed to Iraq as part of the Surge in 2007 — attached to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

And that brings me to my next point.

When you do speak, speak humbly from experience, not proudly — secure in the rightness of your opinion.

When I was your age, I knew a lot more than I know now. I was a voracious reader — my parents still have pictures of me sitting on the floor with encyclopedias fanned out around me — and my reading taught me what I needed to know. And oh how I lorded that knowledge over my less well-read peers.

In hindsight, I must have been moderately insufferable.

I thought I knew about the homeless, until I spent night after night in shelters in Nashville, talking to them, sleeping next to them, and making meals.

I thought I knew about inner cities, until I mentored a kid from the projects in East Nashville and gained just the smallest insights into his world.

I thought I knew I knew how to help the poor, until my wife and I reached out to the poorest and most desperate members of our community, naively certain that our love, concern, and money was enough — enough to change lives.

And I thought I knew about war, until I went to fight, lost friends, and saw the reality with my own eyes.

By God’s grace, I pray I’ll never think I know as much as I once thought I did.

Finally, as you humbly embrace the privilege others have given you, as you embrace your responsibilities by emphasizing doing over speaking and — when you do speak — speaking humbly from experience rather than proudly from opinion, your most critical responsibility will be to depend.

Depend completely on God.

On November 22, 2007 — remember that date — I flew into Forward Operating Base Caldwell in Diyala Province, Iraq, to start my deployment.

I was terrified.

What felt a bit like a heroic adventure from a distance felt foolish and scary up close. As I looked over the shoulder of the door gunner into the dark Iraqi night, I saw tracers arc across the night sky, and it felt all too real.

So I prayed. Hard. I asked God for peace, for assurance that I would make it home and that I would hold my wife and kids again.

No assurance came.

I prayed throughout my deployment. Every night when I fell asleep, every time a friend and brother fell, every time I put on my gear (we called it “battle rattle”) to go outside the wire.

No assurance came. No assurance ever came.

A year later, when I was home, I must admit that I was struggling — struggling with grief at lost friends, struggling at re-integrating with a family that got along quite well without me, and struggling with winding down from the stress of life and death decisions to the non-stress of whether to take my coffee decaf at Cracker Barrel.

I prayed once again, prayed once again to feel God’s presence, His comfort.

As I prayed, I was reviewing the paperwork for our adoption. We were in the process of adopting a little girl from Ethiopia, and we had just received our referral. We were sobered. When she was abandoned to the orphanage, she was terribly malnourished. At two years old, she weighed only 14 pounds.

But — no matter her condition we loved her, instantly.

As I examined her medical information, I came across her birthday.

November 22, 2007.

The very day that I was praying to God as I flew into Iraq, worried whether I would see another day, God was preparing the next phase of my family’s life — in a tiny village in southern Ethiopia, thousands of miles away.

God knew His plan for my family. And He knew that I just needed to trust Him, to depend on Him.

And so do you. Unlike any person you know, He will never fail.

As you look up to the miles ahead, in your life’s race, be thankful for the legacy of service and sacrifice that’s equipped you for the challenge, resolve to run it with honor and perseverance, and understand that your ability to endure and finish comes only from God, a God who loves you and orders your every step in the marathon to come.

Read the rest here.

I have said before that whoever has the courage to confront Donald Trump would be a hero and a patriot. That man is David French.


  • Sally Vaci

    Thank you for this. If Mr. French decides to run he will do so with my full support and daily prayers. I see that the Alt-Right (All-wrong) minions have already devised a flash term to describe the little girl from Ethiopia whom God placed in the path of David & Nancy French – as explained so beautifully above. The word is “niglet” and speaks for itself. And it underlines the pressing need for such a man as David French to enter an election that has so far been a race to the bottom of the sewer.

    • Ezra Thomas

      That term is what the alt-right, who are mostly all white supremacists and racists, use to refer to black children. That’s the kind of “anti-pc” language you’ll see in the comments section at websites like Breitbart and other alt-right corners of the internet.

  • steve hays

    Thomas Sowell recently floated the strategy that if a third-party candidate can take enough votes away from Trump and Hillary, that would throw the decision into the House of Representatives. Although I doubt the House would pick a great president, it could hardly do worse than Trump (or Hillary).

  • Judi

    Wow, he does sounds like he’s just what our country needs…bottom line, Hillary can’t win. That’s how I’ll vote.

  • Bonnie Dunagin

    This is a wonderful story of how to face our fears, take in challenges, do those things we can do instead of complaining how people aren’t Doing! Always praying for direction in our lives, always striving to do what is God’s Will.

    Thank you for this story! God bless.

    • Paulette

      Paulette McCoy …. it would be a lot better than the two crooks and liars that we have now. I say that Mr. French is more of a man than Trump could ever think of. Thank you Mr. French for your service to both our country and to our Lord and for your love and caring and compassion. That little girl was indeed blessed to have you.

    • Gus Nelson

      Matt: As an attorney of 28 years, I can assure you that the stereotypes you may have of lawyers that would result in your comment are very likely, as with most stereotypes, only partially correct and very often inapplicable in specific cases. Yes, lawyers can often overthink things, but then again, too many people in my experience fail to think at all, which, ironically, leads to their need for lawyers who can actually think! Everybody hates lawyers until they really need a good one.

  • Carolyn Delahoussaye

    Great guy. Great guys, though, enter primaries and campaign. I cannot see Hillary win so will vote for Trump.

  • Connie Miller

    May God Bless this man. I do not know him but judging solely from this read, I can say he would be a man well worth knowing. My opinion matters little but I believe he would a good leader and would lead by example. None of this “Do as I say, not as I do” garbage. I love my country and I want peace and security for future generations and I know in my heart it will not happen with Hillary .

  • buddyglass

    As a useful tool for teasing what kind of president French might be, where is there “daylight” between him and Ted Cruz?

  • Tom

    Sounds great but he will never win. Do you really think he has a chance, Denny? It’s been about 170 yrs since a third party has won…….I’m struggling to understand this seemingly Christian view that wants to vote for people who they know will never win-how does this make sense or work out?

  • Jeff Sams

    I hope that David French is the answer to the prayers of many believers, an option that we can vote for in good conscience. My thoughts and prayers are with the French family. May God richly bless and use them and may He have mercy on our ailing republic that has been so mightily used by Him.

  • Steve Rempe

    In a few paragraphs, David French reveals himself to be the Anti-Trump (humble and generous); the Anti-Hillary (sincere, taking responsibility), and the Anti-Sanders (self-sacrificial, non-reliant on others, ever-reliant on God). His getting elected would be the longest of long shots. Fortunately, I believe in miracles.

  • Andrew Lindsey

    Why are conservatives looking for David French to run for president, rather than throwing support behind Darrell Castle, the Constitution Party candidate? Since the presumptive GOP candidate is unacceptable, wouldn’t it be better to go with an established third party?

  • Edward Dougherty

    While I will agree that Mr. French has many admirable qualities, he loses me when he accuses those (such as myself) who oppose our wars in the Middle East as “soft”. I deeply resent that.

Comment here. Please use FIRST and LAST name.