The presidential candidate was unable to name a single world leader he admired.
Gary, c-mon now.
We all have mental lapses. We all have those days when names, dates, and details don’t rise to the surface with their usual buoyancy. The gears whirl in vain, entirely fruitless—it’s an off day. And, contrary to popular belief, Presidential candidates are people too.
So should we excuse the occasional cortex cramp? Absolutely we should.
The stress is immense, the hours are relentless and the pressure to be perpetually sharp can ravage the human psyche. With all this said, Gary Johnson needs to be able to speak on Aleppo, the city at the center of the Syrian civil war, and he needs to be able to name a world leader he admires.
Last night, during an MSNBC Townhall event with Johnson and his running mate William Weld, host Chris Matthews, relishing in his signature verve, asked, “Who’s your favorite foreign leader?” Johnson then repeated the question back to Matthews as though he didn’t understand it. Matthews, sensing that Johnson was stalling, clarified the question as if he’s was asking a third grader, “Any one of the continents, any country, name one foreign leader that you respect and look up to. Anybody.” Then Weld attempted to jump in and rescue Johnson by stating, “Mine was Shimon Peres.” But Matthews wanted no part of Weld’s answer and continued to elaborate, “You gotta do this…anywhere. Any continent. Canada, Mexico, Europe, over there. Asia, South America, Africa—name a foreign leader that you respect.”
Johnson, still unable to come up with a single example, references his previous Syria-centered gaffe saying, “I guess I’m having an Aleppo moment in the former President of Mexico.” Matthews responded with an appropriately bombastic, “But I’m giving you the whole world! Anybody in the world you like. Anybody. Pick any leader.”
The moment then just sits there, before morphing into an invisible bald eagle breathing down Johnson’s neck, sporting a scowl of disappointment. Somehow, he is still unable to answer one of the easiest questions a presidential candidate can get. He’s unable to think of the name of the former Mexican President Vincente Fox, and this is the part we can excuse, sometimes names just fall out of our heads, it happens. But when that happens, you have to be able to shift, you have to be able to dip into an organized, mental well of foreign leaders and come up with at least a handful that you admire in some capacity.
As with the Aleppo gaffe, there is just no positive way to spin this—it’s entirely disqualifying.
This is prerequisite stuff.
Gary Johnson seems like a decent guy, but a decent guy does not a president make. Having a deep understanding of the world and how it functions, knowing the intricacies of military conflicts, and being informed on any up-to-the-minute developments that affect the United States and our allies is a massive part of the job Johnson is applying for. There’s a lot of on-the-job training as president, but there’s a baseline that needs to be met and the former Governor of New Mexico hasn’t met it.
by Jesse Mechanic