Peter Beinart misses the point:
In scorning Kristol and Romney because their anti-Trump efforts aren’t likely to succeed, the media is surrendering to the logic of Trump himself.
The reason why so many people instantly responded to the David French “news” with ridicule was that it was a risible idea on its face. Whatever French’s merits, he is so little-known and lacking in resources that he would have a vanishingly small effect on the election. He wouldn’t even be a significant protest candidate against Trump, but would demonstrate only how little support there is for a “full-spectrum” movement conservative alternative. It’s the silliest version of an already silly idea, and even (or perhaps especially) those that respect French have said so.
Critics of this idea weren’t “surrendering to the logic of Trump,” but were simply acknowledging how pointless the anti-Trump Republican protest effort has become. None of that is to approve of Trump’s success, much less to pretend that winning is all that matters, but to deride Kristol as the stubborn fantasist that he has long been. Kristol imagines that a protest candidacy still has a “real chance” in the same way that he thought Trump had peaked ten months ago and didn’t think that sectarian violence would be a problem in Iraq: he is reliably misinformed and wrong about whatever he’s talking about. Romney’s intervention against Trump was likewise criticized for being more likely to aid Trump among Republican voters. It was therefore worse than useless if the goal was to thwart Trump. Pointing out the haplessness and incompetence of elite anti-Trump Republicans doesn’t imply any sympathy for Trump’s view of the world or his political success to date. It just means facing up to the obvious political realities that those same Republicans have stubbornly refused to acknowledge for months.