Gary Johnson earlier today was a deer in the headlights when asked about the city of Aleppo.
“What would you do if you were elected about Aleppo?” said panelist Mike Barnicle on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
“And what is Aleppo?” asked Johnson.
“You’re kidding?” asked Barnicle.
From there, the media exploded with headlines and commentary suggesting that Johnson was done. Not knowing what Aleppo is was somehow the death knell of the Libertarian’s time in the spotlight. Funny enough, the press itself didn’t seem to care about Aleppo until they could use it to beat Johnson over the head with it. Furthermore, due to the press’s relative silence on Aleppo, it’s highly doubtful that anyone else seems to know what it is as well.
Just like the New York Times, which thought it was the “De Facto Capitol of the Islamic State.”
It was just fixed, but NYT report on Gary Johnson not knowing what Aleppo is initially confused it with Raqqa pic.twitter.com/ivkG8gGOsI
— Robert Mackey (@RobertMackey) September 8, 2016
There’s even been a solid uptick in Google searches on Aleppo itself.
Johnson has since said his flub proved he was human. From Politico:
“This morning, I began my day by setting aside any doubt that I’m human. Yes, I understand the dynamics of the Syrian conflict — I talk about them every day,” Johnson said in a statement to POLITICO. “But hit with ‘What about Aleppo?’ I immediately was thinking about an acronym, not the Syrian conflict. I blanked. It happens, and it will happen again during the course of this campaign.
“Can I name every city in Syria? No. Should I have identified Aleppo? Yes. Do I understand its significance? Yes.”
Of all the flubs this election season, this one is probably the most innocuous, not even remotely on par with Trump not knowing who the KKK was. Yet the media would like to pretend that this is somehow the end of Johnson’s presidential aspirations. Like this is somehow the iceberg that will sink his ship.
I think the reports of Johnson’s campaign’s death are greatly exaggerated. For one, I find it funny that this overblown media hype about a town in Syria the media has hardly touched on is coming on the heels of Clinton’s drop in in the polls, essentially tying her with Trump. Report after report has stated that Johnson is bleeding Clinton of votes slightly more than Trump. With the race narrowing, Clinton will scrape the bottom of whatever barrel she can find to widen her margin as much as possible.
I even made the case that Clinton would have an interest in inviting Gary Johnson on stage to defend herself, and win back some of her vote fair and square, seeing as how Johnson is bleeding her of votes that would be hers in any normal election. Due to the DNC’s actions, many of the Bernie Sanders voters have moved towards Johnson, who has been actively courting them since Bernie was pushed out by the DNC. As it turns out, Johnson’s efforts paid off, and would be Democrats have migrated toward the Libertarian party.
So now we have media outlets turning something of a molehill into a mountain, and blowing up about Johnson, claiming this should disqualify him as President. I’d like to remind everyone his opponents are a woman who helped create the Syrian conflict, and the other guy would probably say “the Leppos are a wonderful, beautiful people.”
As a guy who has openly stated I’m voting for Johnson, I’m not afraid to criticize him when he needs to be criticized, but getting worked up over this seems silly. Should he have been sharper about Syria? Yeah. What candidate shouldn’t? Should I be worried that he wasn’t able to talk about Aleppo at the drop of a hat after hardly anyone has talked about it? Absolutely not.