Thursday, September 29, 2016


Give Gary Johnson credit: unlike his brother in ignorance Donald Trump, he seems really upset that he doesn't have the minimal knowledge base he needs to do the job he seeks.

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson on Wednesday had another "Aleppo moment" as he struggled to name a single living foreign president that he admires.

MSNBC's host Chris Matthews pressed Johnson to name any foreign leader "of any country in any continent" that he respects or looks up to at a town hall event.

Johnson loudly exhaled as he struggled to think of a name.

"I guess I am having an Aleppo moment," he said before offering "the former president of Mexico."

But when Matthews asked "which one," Johnson said he couldn't remember the name.

"I am having a brain freeze," Johnson answered as his running mate, Bill Weld, came to his rescue by mentioning Vicente Fox.
Tom Hilton has defended Johnson, arguing that Johnson wasn't drawing a blank, but was thinking of Fox and couldn't come up with his name. Well, maybe -- but in that case, he could have named another leader somewhere on earth, given that he's, y'know, hoping to be president of a country that has to engage with the entire world. Knowing about other world leaders and forming opinions about them is kind of a requirement for the job.

Or it used to be. Republicans have called that standard into question over the past 36 years. Ronald Reagan was the first modern Republican presidential nominee -- a guy unashamed of his own ignorance and proud of his reliance on simplified versions of complex ideas. Twenty years later, the Republicans gave us George W. Bush. Those two, at least, believed in hiring cabinet members and aides who knew their stuff, however deficient the aides might have been in other ways. But the GOP holy fools of recent years seem as if they wouldn't even work with well-informed people, and certainly don't know much of anything themselves: Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Ben Carson, and now, obviously, Donald Trump.

We're supposed to think that all these people were "presidential" because, while they might not have known who headed the government in Lebanon, or been able to find the country on a map, they believed fervently in some Great Idea or other -- freedom, the glory of God, Making America Great Again.

Johnson -- a former Republican governor -- is in that category. (His big idea, I guess, is "freedom.")

Let's not forget this moment from the summer of 2000, when George W. Bush was running for president and Johnson was a fellow governor and surrogate:
June 6 -- Boosting his friend George W. Bush to reporters, Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico recalls a conversation they had at a conference on state government. ''George turns to me and says, 'What are they talking about?' I said, 'I don't know.' He said, 'You don't know a thing, do you?' And I said, 'Not one thing.' He said, 'Neither do I.' And we kind of high-fived.''
It's still true.


luckyyou said...

He also could have said "I'm a libertarian, I don't admire government leaders, I admire entrepreneurs, people who create wealth and freedom, blah blah blah...."

Knight of Nothing said...

That NYT Collins piece from 2000 - nice find, but... good god.

Green Eagle said...

I thought a lot more of Johnson's latest flub until it occurred to me to try to come up with a world leader that I admire. Not so easy. Oh, I guess there's Pierre Trudeau, but I'm not sure a minor leaguer is really eligible for MVP. Finally, I remembered that the only thing that counts in life any more is being a "job creator," so I'm going with Kim Jong Un, because he's created so many jobs for comedians.

William F. Glennon said...

This is the man who's going to tip swing states to Trump, thanks to the youth vote. Because Hillary is a corrupt war-monger, they're going to help elect an actually-corrupt real war-monger.

Tom Hilton said...

Yeah, there's enough additional evidence of his general ignorance that I'm probably wrong about that.

And as others have pointed out, there's also the point that libertarianism is so impracticable that there aren't any ideologically acceptable world leaders. I retweeted a meme from someone with a photo of Johnson and a caption something like "asking a libertarian about his favorite world leader is like asking a vegan how they like their steak"--which is kind of true. Only after I RT'd it did I realize the person who had originally tweeted it was a libertarian who approved of this attitude.

Unknown said...

It's easy to dismiss Johnson as a harmless idiot but he's still espousing awful policies.