I've always been fascinated by the way that party elites meet behind closed doors to pick a presidential candidate long before the primaries begin. The selection of George W. Bush as GOP standard bearer in 2000 occurred almost completely out of sight. Bill Kristol, in the course of urging Republicans to let the primaries play out without doing has, offers a tantalizing glimpse:
We know the superiority of spontaneous order to central planning. But too many GOP bigwigs in Washington who claim to have read Hayek have succumbed to the fatal conceit. They’re meeting nonstop trying to determine for us all now, a year before the first primary—with limited information as to relevant candidate skills and almost no knowledge of next year’s political environment—who the best presidential candidate would be.
Democratic capitalists admire Schumpeter for explaining the virtues of creative destruction. But too many donors to the party of democratic capitalism are huddling in New York this winter figuring out if there isn’t some way to short-circuit this kind of healthy—if messy, to be sure—competition among entrepreneurial candidates testing their skills and their messages.
Sadly, Kristol devotes the rest of his editorial to repeating his simple competition-is-good over and over. A more detailed glimpse into these backrooms -- which Kristol is surely privy to; having access to such backrooms is the essence of Bill Kristol -- would actually be interesting. Who are these bigwigs? What candidate or candidates do they support? What methods are they proposing to short-circuit the primaries?