There are many good reasons not to vote for the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee. Mark Ames once described Gary Johnson as “a sponge absorbing just about every bad right-wing idea,” and the evidence is convincing. His office is co-located with a right-wing Republican polling firm in Salt Lake City; Roger Stone, the crackpot conspiracy-wrangler now advising Donald Trump, worked for Johnson’s 2012 campaign.
But now we have a new reason to disregard Johnson’s third party bid: he’s clearly unprepared to discuss world events, much less handle foreign affairs as commander-in-chief.
That was obvious after an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today. Asked by Mike Barnicle what he would do about Aleppo, a subdued Johnson failed to recognize the name of the besieged city in Syria.
“And what is Aleppo?” Johnson asked.
“You’re kidding,” replied an incredulous Barnicle.
But Johnson wasn’t kidding. He had to be prompted with the fact that Aleppo is in Syria, whereupon he started gibbering his way through a now-familiar answer that “regime change” was at fault for the humanitarian nightmare in the war-torn country.
Watch, via MSNBC:
WATCH: Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson asks Mike Barnicle, “What is Aleppo?” https://t.co/BcG5hufHYf
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) September 8, 2016
My rush transcript of Johnson’s eventual answer:
With regard to Syria, I do think that it’s a mess. I think that the only way we deal with Syria is to join hands with Russia to diplomatically bring that to an end, but when we’ve supported the opposition and the Free Syrian Army, and the Free Syrian Army is also coupled with the Islamists, and then the fact that we’re also supporting the Kurds, and…it’s just a mess. And this is the result of regime change that we end up supporting, and inevitably these regime changes have led to a less-safe world.
The US is already engaged with Russia to try and end the war, so Johnson failed to say exactly what he would do differently about the complicated and perilous situation that exists in Syria right now. He’s got no new policy tools, no suggestions, no clear understanding of the players involved.
But Johnson sure knows whom to blame for this mess: the Obama administration, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in particular, because they backed “regime change” instead of supporting the homicidal dictator whose army is crushing the people of Aleppo right now. See how that works?
Being against “regime change” isn’t a policy. Assuming that Johnson was able to broker a peace, how would he convince Bashar al-Assad not to take reprisals against former rebels? How would he convince former rebels to trust their hated autocrat? These are serious and sobering questions that he’s not prepared to answer.
And that’s why he doesn’t belong on a debate stage with Clinton and Trump. There has been much loose talk lately of lowering the bar for third party participation in the presidential debates, but this is just one area in which he would merely echo Trump’s talking points without adding anything new to the forum. Gary Johnson can only make things worse by participating.
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