Earlier this political season, I criticized Green Party nominee Dr. Jill Stein for her scary anti-science pandering. She made a hard pitch for disaffected Democrats and faded into the background amid her controversies, despite an overwrought debate night stunt.
Gov. Gary Johnson did not suffer the same fate. He was featured in a prime time town hall interview on MSNBC this week, and it was a complete train wreck, because Johnson doesn’t appear to know much about anything. The spectacle would’ve been funny if Johnson weren’t polling well enough to make him a spoiler candidate who could get Donald Trump elected. Plus, this isn’t even the first time he’s been a disaster.
In the gaffe seen around the world earlier this month, Johnson asked a horrified MSNBC anchor, “What is Aleppo?”
While the average voter could be forgiven for not identifying the Syrian city, anyone wishing to be our Commander-in-Chief should know we’re discussing a center-point of global attention in the ongoing Syrian Civil War. Joy Behar openly told Johnson to his face during a later interview that she viewed his ignorance as disqualifying.
For those still considering a Johnson vote, the MSNBC town hall should have been sobering. Johnson spent an hour being generally bumbling as a presidential candidate, albeit highly amusing as a talking head. He was asked by Chris Matthews to name his favorite world leader. Johnson could not do it. He struggled and, in a stunning comment, claimed he was having another “Aleppo moment.” One was already too many.
Johnson never did remember the name of the leader he was trying to recall on his own. Running mate Bill Weld helped him to the answer he was trying to reach, which was Mexican ex-President Vicente Fox. Never mind that Fox left office ten years ago. Weld managed to inadvertently make a bad moment worse for Johnson when he was asked the same question and, without hesitation, named German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
This dynamic continued throughout the entire night, where Johnson seemed lost on how to show basic competency while Weld tried to look serious. In one exchange, Matthews had to ask Johnson if he was kidding when he suggested that not wearing helmets could lead to an influx of needed organ donations. In another “Huh?” moment, Johnson went on a bizarre rant in support of the infamous New York City large soda ban while seeming to either not understand it or be able to comprehend the question Matthews was asking about the intersection of Libertarian values and government regulation.
Johnson didn’t even seem to care about the Libertarian platform itself and openly took an opposing position on drugs. Given the size of the Libertarian Party, this is not like a major-party candidate taking a diverging position from a compromise platform incorporating disparate voices. Johnson’s divergence was head-scratching, but less so than his cavalier attitude about it.
That word sums up the problem of Gary Johnson: cavalier. He seems indifferent to the seriousness of the job. Johnson possesses an odd overall lack of respect for the role's weight, like a child running for class president.
He actually seems like a nice guy. If I had to sit down and have a friendly conversation with any of the candidates, he’d be a top contender. The same cannot be said for his qualifications to be president.
In an election where the most qualified candidate in contemporary history is facing off against an authoritarian Oompa Loompa who threatens to destabilize the entire planet, the choice is crystal clear. This isn’t the year for a protest vote, especially for a candidate who can’t be bothered to remember and understand basic facts about the contemporary world.