Is it unethical to fail—even to fail miserably? Is it unethical to volunteer for the impossible, nation-saving mission and fall on your face, perhaps by inadvertently igniting a grenade you are carrying and blowing your head off? Can we fairly deride the baseball player who strides to the plate with a chance to win the big game, and then looks like a Little Leaguer as he helplessly strikes out on three pitches without getting within a foot of the ball?
Maybe not. Still, when the stakes are high and a hero is needed, taking on the assignment when one lacks the acumen, skill and character to carry it off is at very least incompetent and irresponsible.
With Donald Trump attracting most of the media attention as the now completely politicized mainstream media devotes itself to defeating him by any means possible, and Hillary Clinton finding spectacular new and strange ways to make her own candidacy seem shaky even as the news media tries to bolster her, every interview, every second of air time, every opportunity to dazzle (because dazzling is the only chance a third party candidate has) is crucial for Gary Johnson. If he doesn’t know that, he’s an idiot. Since I assume he is not an idiot, and must know that he has to make every viewer who watches him who is not under the spell of Donald Trump or a true believer in Hillary Clinton say, “Hey! There’s a candidate on the ballot who is smart, informed, honest, dignified, healthy and rational with experience in executive governing!” Admittedly, this is difficult. There is no margin for error, and it is extremely difficult to appear brilliant and prepared unless one is brilliant and prepared.
Still, to presume to run for President of the United States is an assertion of remarkable ability, and to make that assertion without such ability is wrong, indeed horribly wrong. “Does anyone know CPR?” The intrepid volunteer steps to the fore and says, “I do!” and then proceeds to kill the stricken stranger because he doesn’t know CPR as well as he thought he did. “The pilot and co-pilot are unconscious! Can anyone fly the plane?” “I was a pilot!” says a confident passenger, who then takes the controls and power-dives the aircraft into the ground, because he’s more than a little rusty.
The Libertarian Party and its nominee have–I guess had is the proper word now—a once in a century opportunity, with both major parties betraying the public and nominating candidates who are unfit for the Presidency, and millions search for a way out. If they couldn’t do better than this, they should have left the job to someone who might have.
I have no idea what’s going on in the video above. NBC News’s Kasie Hunt was interviewing Johnson today how different things might be if he were allowed to participate in the upcoming debate between Clinton and Trump. Mid-answer, Johnson’s tongue emerges between his lips and he proceeds to try to talk, sounding for all the world like someone winning a bet by giving the Gettysburg Address while the tip of his tongue is between his fingers. It’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen any interview subject do, and also one of the funniest. Peter Sellers losing control of his Nazi arm in “Dr. Strangelove” was hilarious—
—but a renegade tongue is even better, or would be if it were in a movie comedy. Unfortunately, this was real, and it makes Johnson look ridiculous. If such an episode happened to Hillary Clinton, the incident would be presented as smoking gun proof that she had brain damage. (Watch Hunt’s face when this happens. She looks like she expects his head to crack open to reveal a tentacled alien inside; it’s a combination of fascination
Johnson seems like a nice guy, and he definitely has been unlucky, but we needed him to be better than nice. His country needed him to come through and be a hero, and he had to know that. Knowing that, he was obligated to do better than he has–who couldn’t do better than having a tongue go rogue during a TV interview?—and provide a plausible alternative to Clinton and Trump.
Now all we are left with is the faint hope that Trump will have the self-control to avoid doing a Gary Johnson imitation today.
I am not optimistic.