The Presidential nominee of the party whose convention featured a fat naked guy running around on stage found himself being the focus of the news this week, and not in a good way. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”—you know, that astute, objective news commentary show with a co-host who says Hillary Clinton is, like “awesome!”— there was this exchange between Libertarian Party candidate, Gov. Gary Johnson and one of the show’s panelists, Mike Barnicle:
Barnicle: “What would you do if you were elected about Aleppo?”
Johnson: “And what is Aleppo?”
Barnicle: “You’re kidding.”
Barnicle explained that Aleppo is a once thriving city in Syria that is ground zero for the country’s civil war. Johnson replied, “Got it,” and provided the wisdom that “With regard to Syria I do think it’s a mess.”
He elaborated, but as CNN’s Frida Ghitis wrote, ” Who cares what Johnson thinks about Syria now? He knows nothing about it. His opinion is meaningless.”
Well, not exactly meaningless. What his failure to have an informed opinion on a major foreign policy crisis like Syria means is that Gary Johnson is lazy, lacks seriousness, and is failing his duty to he party and the nation, which is to provide a realistic, responsible, genuine alternative to the candidates of the two major parties, both of whom are spectacularly unfit to serve, unfit for office, and embarrassments to the democratic process who call into serious question the long term viability of both our form of government and the nation itself.
Did I sugar-coat that too much?
A majority of voters don’t like or trust either candidate, even with the news media abandoning all fairness and professionalism to portray Donald Trump as Hitler and Hillary as a poor, maligned, misunderstood leader despite all evidence to the contrary. A third party candidate with charisma, competence, energy and skill could, conceivably, provide the public with an option that would allow them to vote in November without wanting to keep paper bags over their heads forever more. This is not just an opportunity to become a significant historical figure, but a heroic one. When this horrible national ethics train wreck began to define itself in July, Johnson knew the challenge that faced him. In just a few months, he had to dazzle nauseated Democrats and humiliated Republican alike. This meant around the clock study and thought. And Johnson’s response to this challenge?
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. He snoozed. He knows he’s just running a symbolic campaign, so why sweat it? This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Act like a third-rate candidate, and everyone will see you as a third-rate candidate, even though the effort to be just a second-rate candidate might give the electorate hope.
Johnson’s spinners—-yes, even third-party candidates have spinners—argued that Johnson showed character, a feature that has been nearly completely absent from Campaign 2016 so far, in his exchange with Barnicle. He didn’t fake it, like Trump would. He didn’t lie, like Hillary would—“Oh, you mean “Aleppo” the city! I’m sorry, I thought you were talking about one of Marx Brothers I had never heard of!”
That’s certainly faint praise. Okay, Johnson’s not a faker or a liar–nor, like Jill Stein, his Green Party counterpart, an anti-vaxxer and a Truther. He’s also not trying very hard.
To know what Aleppo is didn’t require arcane foreign studies. (We know how unimportant libertarians think foreign policy is.) It required paying attention. It required reading newspapers and watching TV. It required that Johnson work to be qualified for the job he was seeking, so those rejecting the two major parties’ candidates as the dreck that they are could see that he was a real candidate for the office, not just a “none of the above” choice, like Harambe the Gorilla.
He couldn’t be bothered. At this moment of leadership vacuum and despair, Gary Johnson didn’t care enough to to the grunt work necessary to be electable.