I freely admit that I am a Gary Johnson supporter. I still hold out hope, however faint, that the Commission on Presidential Debates will bend the rules and let him (and Green Party candidate Jill Stein) debate. I cling to my belief that a debate appearance will expose him to all of the undecided voters, as well as to the voters who plan on holding their noses while they vote for Trump or Clinton, and he’ll actually pull off a miracle and steal this election. It’s a long shot, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
Unfortunately, these days it appears that Gary Johnson is his own biggest enemy. Simply put, the man can’t stop putting his foot in his mouth. Beginning with his famed “What’s Aleppo” moment in early September, the Libertarian candidate has made a series of verbal gaffes that the mainstream media has seized upon as evidence that the outlier is not fit to be president of the United States.
The Johnson Parade of Verbal Gaffes began on September 8, when Johnson appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show. Host Mike Barnicle asked him what he would do, as president, about Aleppo. Johnson famously responded, “What’s Aleppo?”
— Robert Ariail (@RobertAriail) September 16, 2016
I’m willing to give The Johnson a pass on this one. After all, until a few years ago, few Americans who weren’t historians had never heard of Aleppo (at one time the melons that grew around the city were the envy of the Roman Empire). It’s one of those places you learn about for a high school Geography test and then forget about. And what with the myriad of places caught up in the multitude of Middle Eastern conflicts that U.S. is involved in, it’s no wonder that the formerly-obscure Syrian city slipped his mind.
Further, considering that Johnson’s default foreign policy position can most succinctly be described as “stay the hell out of it,” he can be excused for momentarily flaking when the pressure was on.
Ignore Climate Change Because The Sun Will Eventually Destroy The Earth
Johnson actually said this in 2011, but in an election year, everything you’ve ever said or done is going to come back to haunt you. So last week, Mother Jones dug up some statements Johnson made five years ago that are leaving voters scratching their heads today.
“Long-term consequence of our existence in the whole scheme of things is the sun is getting closer to the Earth and that at a point in the very distant future, the sun will actually encompass the Earth. So global warming is something that’s going to be inevitable.”
I’m not even going to begin to try to suss out what Gary was going for here. Perhaps he was being hyperbolic? Perhaps he truly believes that the best response to climate change is to ignore it?
For what it’s worth, Johnson’s official position of Climate Change is less than clear. While he admits that man-made global warming is probably a real thing, he offers little in the way of solutions other than keeping the government out of it.
There are better ways to express that than saying that we should ignore it because the Sun is going to swallow us all some day anyway.
Whatever This Bizarre Tongue Thing Was About
Back on September 21, Johnson was being interviewed by MSNBC reporter Kasie Hunt about his then-likely exclusion from the upcoming first presidential debate. The point Johnson was trying to make was that he could have stood on the debate stage and done something idiotic, or done nothing at all, and he still would have come off with a huge boost in poll numbers simply based on his visibility.
That’s what he was trying to say, anyway. What actually happened was this.
This is, quite possibly, one of the most cringe-worthy things I have ever witnessed in 30 years of watching presidential campaigns. And I was there for Howard Dean’s famous scream.
Can He Name A Single Foreign Leader He Admires?
The latest Johnson gaffe came Wednesday night when the former New Mexico governor appeared at an MSNBC town hall. Asked to name a single world leader he admires, Johnson came up blank, according to NBC News. About all he could do was sigh audibly, stare at the camera blankly, and admit failure.
— Vox (@voxdotcom) September 29, 2016
Fortunately, he had a good attitude about it, calling Wednesday’s blanking an “Aleppo moment,” referring to his early-September failure to remember what Aleppo is.
Do Johnson’s Verbal Gaffes Matter?
All politicians make mistakes — they’re human beings. It’s just that politicians have their brain farts on the public stage, and with the pressure on. Dan Quayle famously forgot how to spell “potato.” Rick Perry said he wanted to eliminate three cabinet positions, but could only come up with two. Joe Biden asked a man in a wheelchair to stand up. In other words, Gary Johnson is not the first politician whose mouth moved faster than his brain, and he won’t be the last.
In a larger sense, though, you have to consider whether his series of brain farts is evidence that he’s not qualified to hold the office of President of the United States. You must ask yourself, then, if verbal gaffes matter more than decades of the failed War on Drugs, or if verbal gaffes matter more than the lives of innocent men, women, and children who are caught up in Middle Eastern wars that we can’t win. You have to ask yourself, do you care more about brain farts than the possibility of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in the White House?
Sure, Gary Johnson trips over his own tongue far too often, but it’s a flaw that shouldn’t disqualify him from being President.
[Feature Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]