Thursday, September 29, 2016

Gary Johnson is having a rough time. Completely flubs a question on foreign leaders.

Gary Johnson with USA Today staff. USA Today

While on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Mathews, Gary Johnson seemed unable to name a world leader he respected. USA Today. After being asked repeatedly if he had a living leader that he respected Johnson struggled to name one. Conceding that he was having another "Aleppo moment", he eventually settled with the former president of Mexico. When asked which one, Johnson said he was having a "brain freeze" until his VP pick, Bill Weld, suggested Vicente Fox, who has tangled with Donald Trump. Johnson then said that his choice was indeed fox while Bill Weld said that Angela Merkal was his. Johnson's campaign downplayed the gaffe saying that the media is out to get the candidate and took the opportunity to bash Donald Trump.  

My Comment:
I know I am picking on Gary Johnson a lot lately, but that was pretty extraordinary. Gary Johnson has had a string of gaffes like this, and this one looks worse considering it follows his "Aleppo" situation where he totally blew a question about the Syrian city. To follow that gaffe up with this extremely similar one is not good.

And it's not even that this was a difficult question. I am guessing if someone asked me the same question I would be able to answer it in much less time (Off the top of my head, King Abdullah of Jordan, Shinzo Abe of Japan and even Vladimir Putin of Russia). And if my choice of world leader was Vicente Fox, I would remember it, if, for no other reason, because he has been in the news lately for tangling with Johnson's opponent, Donald Trump. That shouldn't be that difficult to remember.

But Johnson totally flubbed it. And his VP pick, Bill Weld, wasn't much help. Though he did come up with the correct answer for Johnson, his own answer, Angela Merkel, is, quite frankly, a terrible one. Though Vicente Fox at least has tangled with Trump, Merkel is a hugely unpopular figure, both in Germany and Europe, for her role in the migrant crisis. Merkel might have been an acceptable answer before all that happened, but it is an insane choice right now.

And before you say "well Clinton and Trump would have flubbed it as well", I think that is just stupid. Clinton was first lady, a senator and a secretary of state. In all of those rolls she met and worked with world leaders. As much as I dislike her, she would not have flubbed this question. Obviously.

Neither would Donald Trump. Though he doesn't have the experience Clinton does, he has been making waves by meeting with world leaders. All Trump would have to do is mention Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi or even Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, all of which give Trump foreign policy cred. To say that he couldn't come up with one of those guys for that question is just stupid.

It's getting pretty obvious that Gary Johnson doesn't have either Trump's or Clinton's foreign policy credentials. When he was asked about Aleppo he didn't even know the most important city in Syria where a huge, bloody battle is occurring. And now he doesn't know a single world leader to mention during a town hall, until his VP pick covers for him. It really makes you wonder how a Johnson Presidency would look like? If Vladimir Putin invaded Europe or some other stupid thing, would Johnson just ask his staff "President who?"

Plus he could have covered the error better. Saying that he was having an "Aleppo Moment" was playing into the media's hands. Perhaps the moment would have passed unnoticed if he hadn't done so. He could have also could have played it off as a criticism of Donald Trump. Something like "The Mexican President that got into it with Donald Trump... can't think of his name, Bill, who was that? Oh, Vicente Fox, of course, yeah he's great", would have been a non-issue.

These flubs and gaffes with Johnson also make me wonder about something else. Gary Johnson smokes pot and has done so for years. Though he has recently quit during the campaign, he has smoked it regularly. Doing so could cause memory issues if he was a heavy user. It could also be that he just doesn't know foreign policy that well, but either way, it doesn't look good for him.

I do have to wonder something though. Gary Johnson was quietly ignored through pretty much the entire campaign. Nobody cared about his 10% of the vote until now. Why now though? I think that Hillary Clinton's campaign realized that Johnson's support pretty much exclusively comes from people that might otherwise vote for her. It's mostly former Bernie Sanders supporters and younger millennials, not GOP voters. Johnson isn't taking all that many votes from Donald Trump, for reasons that I detail in this blog post. Since they figured out that Johnson is drawing votes away from Clinton in an incredibly close race, her staff has put the press on notice. If Johnson screws up, they need to cover it.

Which makes me worry, am I helping Hillary Clinton by covering this story? I'm on the record as a Trump voter, so by covering this does that make me some kind of traitor? I don't think so. I do know quite a few people that want to vote for Johnson and I think they deserve to know that their candidate is making mistakes like this, even if it hurts my guy. I can't see most of them voting for either Clinton or Trump, so I guess I am encouraging them to stay home since their candidate is pretty terrible too.

 I'm also on the record as not liking Gary Johnson for the direction he is taking the Libertarian Party. I had way more respect for them when they were right libertarians instead of Democrats 2.0, so I'm feeling so much Schadenfreude right now. It was impossible to resist. I won't forgive Johnson for taking the party to the left on gun control, which was supposed to be one of the party's signature issues. As far as I am concerned he deserves 0% support. Same as Hillary Clinton.

Of course, even if Johnson was at Jill Stein's 2% support, I still think that this particular flub would have gotten coverage. It's fairly extreme to not have a snap answer for a simple question like "who is your favorite world leader?" Almost any politician would have that answer down pat, but for whatever reason Johnson did not. Hell, I can see that question being asked to a small town city council person, and they wouldn't flub it either. Though I doubt many of his supporters will care, it's still a major mistake that might turn off potential anti-Clinton, anti-Trump voters. And the series of gaffes that Johnson has had will probably destroy his goal of reaching 15% in the polls and getting federal funding for the Libertarian Party, let alone his presidential aspirations...

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