The Chicago Tribune Must Have Been Stoned To Support Gary Johnson

I have read Chicago Tribune editorials for almost half a century. The Tribune's September 30 editorial endorsing Gary Johnson for President of the United States is the first one that ever caused me to consider cancelling my subscription - not just because I disagree with the editorial, but because it was so bizarre in its reasoning. See

I can only assume that Gary Johnson, who until recently was president and CEO of the company Cannabis Sativa, Inc., and who proudly admits that he frequently used marijuana himself, must have gotten the Tribune's editorial board very stoned for them to have written that editorial.

Like Donald Trump in the recent presidential debate, the Tribune's editorial board got off to an O.K. start. They began by astutely observing that the Republican nominee is "a man not fit to be president of the United States." Trump, they noted, "has gone out of his way to anger world leaders, giant swaths of the American public, and people of other lands who aspire to immigrate here legally." Adding that Trump is "bombastic and self-aggrandizing," they concluded that he has "neither the character nor the prudent disposition for the job." In short, Trump is "not fit to be president of the United States." So far, so good.

Clearly on a roll, the Tribune editorial board then turned to Hillary Clinton who, they sensibly observed, "is undeniably capable of leading the United States." Moreover, "electing her the first woman president would break a barrier that has no reason to be." In short, Clinton's election would be an historic milestone in our nation's all-too-reluctant recognition that women can actually lead. Whereas Trump "couldn't do this job," Clinton, the Tribune's editors boldly proclaimed, clearly can. A good, rational, sensible analysis.

But that's when the drugs took hold. In the next several paragraphs the Tribune's editorial board launched into a mindless rant that would put even Fox News to shame. Because Clinton would "greatly increase federal spending and taxation" and has raised "serious questions about honesty and trust" -- the editorial board "cannot endorse her" either.

After analyzing her spending and taxation plans, the Tribune's editorial board concluded with horror that eight years of a Clinton presidency "would raise the national debt by $200 billion." Horrors!! What a nightmare! ("Pass the joint.") The current national debt is just under $19 trillion. Thus, according to the Tribune's editors, a Clinton presidency would shockingly increase the national debt by . . . 1%!

How does this 1% increase in the national debt over eight years compare to, say, Ronald Reagan, whom the Tribune endorsed twice? In his eight years in office, Ronald Reagan increased the national debt by almost 200%! George W. Bush, whom the Tribune also endorsed twice, increased the national debt by roughly 80%. But the Tribune can't possibly endorse Hillary Clinton, because she would increase the national debt by . . . 1%. ("Exhale, guys. Exhale. You have to do it the way Gary showed us.")

The Tribune editorial board then launched into a scathing attack on Hillary Clinton's honesty and integrity, echoing and even expanding upon the trumped up charges of scandal, lack of integrity, and dishonesty that have been exhaustingly repeated by Republican scandal-mongers and desperate "journalists" who will do almost anything to thrill their readers and viewers. The plain and simple fact is that, as she has conceded, Hillary Clinton has made some mistakes, and those mistakes raise legitimate questions about her judgment. To be honest, some of those mistakes have made me cringe, but none of them is even remotely disqualifying.

None of us, after all, is perfect. Not Tricky Dick Nixon (of Watergate fame), not Ronald Reagan (whose Iran-contra scandal overwhelms anything done by Hillary Clinton), not George W. Bush (whose dishonest invasion of Iraq led to the current tragedy in the Middle East) -- but the Tribune editorial board managed enthusiastically to endorse all of them twice. Hillary, though, well, "she's a corner-cutter" who can't be trusted -- even though, as the Tribune editorial board conceded, she "is undeniably capable of leading the United States."

So, where did all this leave the Tribune editorial board? Rather than choose the lesser of two "evils" -- presumably Hillary Clinton -- they encouraged citizens to vote for "a principled candidate" -- the libertarian Gary Johnson. It apparently does not matter at all to the Tribune's editors that Gary Johnson is demonstrably unfit to represent the United States to the world. This is man, after all, who was unable to name a single leader of another nation -- and whose instinct in that moment was to say he was having another "Aleppo moment," a lighthearted reference to a previous embarrassing lack-of-knowledge moment in which he could not even recognize the name of the most newsworthy and most brutalized city in Syria. It is enough, apparently, that Johnson offers an obscure and largely incoherent "agenda" that "appeals . . . to the Tribune's principles."

While conceding that this sweet but utterly unqualified candidate has no chance of winning, the Tribune editorial board rejects "the cliché that a citizen who chooses" a candidate who cannot possibly win "is squandering his or her vote." After all, such a vote sends "a message about the failings of the major parties and the candidates."

With all due respect, this is absurd. As the Tribune concedes, there is a huge difference between Trump and Clinton. One is qualified; the other is not. But by the Tribune's lights, neither is "good enough." So why not "send a message" to that effect to the major parties by casting a vote for a wholly unqualified third-party loser whose greatest achievement in life, apart from manufacturing and selling marijuana, is that he served as the governor of . . . New Mexico?

If a citizen wants to "send a message" to the major parties that she's not thrilled with their candidates, she should write a letter, sign a petition, march in a demonstration, or post on Facebook. But she should not increase the likelihood of electing as President of the United States a candidate the Tribune itself condemns as "not fit to be President of the United States."

The stakes in this election are much too high for such simple-minded reasoning. Imagine the difference in this nation over the next four years with a Trump presidency versus a Clinton presidency. Unless you think there would be no difference that matters -- a position that the Tribune itself does not endorse -- it would be reckless, irresponsible, and dangerous to squander one's vote in this manner.

A great many people have said that, in light of the sheer stupidity reflected in the Tribune's already infamous editorial, they will cancel their subscriptions. I won't do that. I know many members of the Tribune's editorial board, and I like and respect them. But, guys, stay off the weed next time you write an important editorial! And once you come down from your high and stop all the giggling, it might be nice for you to try a do-over.