Tuesday, April 21, 2009


There was a bit of interest in the blogosphere today about this:

Gary Johnson for President?

Bill Kauffman reports that Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico, is thinking about a run for the presidency in 2012. Kauffman compares him to Gov. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), two libertarian heroes.

Yes, as a congressman Sanford opposed the U.S. intervention in Kosovo under a Democratic president; Gary Johnson opposed a Republican president’s war upon Iraq. Sanford reluctantly endorsed McCain in 2008; Johnson emphatically endorsed Ron Paul. Sanford has potential on civil liberties; Johnson, like Paul, has the guts to call for the legalization of marijuana and an end to the drug war.

An antiwar, pro-legalization libertarian for president? Sounds like a real change of pace, right?

Yeah, but when I read this I had a vague memory that I couldn't quite call up of an anecdote from a few years ago that made Johnson seem a bit more of a recognizable presidential type. It took me a while, but I finally found it. It's from mid-2000:

Politicians are usually so coached and cloistered that the window of truth remains tightly shut. But every once in a while, it opens a crack.

Such was the case in Albuquerque the other day when New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, a Republican, was introducing his friend George W. Bush, the Texas governor and the GOP's presumptive nominee for president.

... The New Mexico governor began his introduction of Bush before a crowd of 600 by saying, "I'll tell you a story.''

Here's what Johnson then revealed:

"At one of these governors' conferences, George turns to me and says, 'What are they talking about?' I said, 'I don't know.' He said, `You don't know anything, do you?' And I said, `Not one thing.' He said, 'Neither do I.' And we kind of high-fived."

Celebrating ignorance with a high five.

Now, that's the real George W.

And if that's the real Gary Johnson, maybe -- alas -- he wouldn't be, given our standards until recently, such an odd choice for president after all.

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