Gary Johnson asks ‘What is Aleppo?’ in response to question about Syria; Politico reports campaign scrambling to minimize fallout

Politico writers Louis Nelson and Daniel Strauss reported the following today:

Asked what he would do about the Syrian city of Aleppo, the region at the center of that nation’s civil war and refugee crisis, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson responded by asking, “what is Aleppo?”

“What would you do if you were elected about Aleppo?” MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” panelist Mike Barnicle asked the former New Mexico governor during an in-studio interview Thursday morning.

“And what is Aleppo?” Johnson responded.

“You’re kidding,” a stunned Barnicle replied, to which Johnson answered that he was not.
Barnicle explained to the Libertarian candidate that Aleppo is “the epicenter of the refugee crisis” in Syria, giving Johnson enough information to finally answer the question.

Read the rest of the Politico article here. 

Johnson’s gaffe is making the rounds on social media, and other mainstream media outlets have seized on his “blank out.” The campaign did its best to minimize the gaffe, and even released a statement on the incident:

johnsongary

Johnson’s running mate, Bill Weld, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a think thank including a roster of high-profile individuals that has advocated for a neoconservative foreign policy incompatible with Johnson’s public opposition to “regime change”. However, Weld did not give speeches at the last two Johnson campaign rallies (in Milwaukee and Des Moines, respectively). Johnson had previously named the former Massachusetts governor as his “co-president.”

139 thoughts on “Gary Johnson asks ‘What is Aleppo?’ in response to question about Syria; Politico reports campaign scrambling to minimize fallout

  1. Thomas Knapp

    It doesn’t take much to “minimize the gaffe.”

    I’ve seen some mountain out of molehill shit about Johnson. I’ve even been accused of making some mountain out of molehill shit about Johnson. But as mountain out of molehill shit goes, this takes the cake (pun intended).

    Running for president is not a geography quiz.

  2. Anthony Dlugos

    This can be turned into a positive if the campaign plays its cards right. Step 1 is no more apologies.

  3. Krzysztof Lesiak Post author

    Johnson should know more about the world than the average pleb. Top position in the world they say, correct? Syria has been in the news – maybe not in the “American news” – but still, in the news, since at least 2011. Aleppo has been mentioned many times.

    Johnson himself admitted it was a serious gaffe, as is seen in the second video.

  4. AMcCarrick

    This is what happens when candidates aren’t permitted to get security briefings.

    Any legit libertarian doesn’t watch the news because they know it’s all a bunch of bullshit spun to fit the narrative of each “news” channel.

    The only correct answer here is Aleppo is none of our business… not our country not our problem. Which is kind of inferred from his answer.

  5. Darcy G Richardson

    Like his detractors in New Mexico always said, as governor he may have vetoed a lot of legislation, but he never bothered to read any of it.

    That’s not governing.

  6. Darcy G Richardson

    Aleppo has been mentioned repeatedly in the mainstream media — the evening news and daily newspapers — for weeks upon weeks. There’s simply no excuse for Johnson’s ignorance.

  7. Thomas Knapp

    “Johnson should know more about the world than the average pleb.”

    And he probably does. I suspect that somewhere in the neighborhood of 90% of Americans would, like Johnson, ask “what’s Aleppo?”

    I could tell you what Aleppo is, but if you showed me a map of Syria with no city names I couldn’t pinpoint its location for you. And I work at a foreign policy web site which covers the war in Syria every day.

  8. robert capozzi

    AD, please expand on the not apologizing angle.

    If handled properly, I think GJ’s humility could be a strength.

    I’m mostly off the grid, so I didn’t know Alippo, and I consider this to be a really minor gaffe, if at all.

  9. Thomas Knapp

    The best way to handle it, if Johnson was adept at this stuff — he isn’t — would be to shift blame to the media for expecting him to be an egghead who knows the location and importance of every hamlet on the globe. That seemed to work fairly well for Bush. Gave him a tiny bit of “regular guy” tinge. And Johnson really should have grabbed that smirking idiot who asked the question and then played the “you’re kidding” routine and dragged him down the hall for a swirlie in the nearest commode.

    Since Johnson can’t pull all that off, just apologizing for not having memorized the entirety of Wikipedia had to do.

    But make no mistake, all of it is bullshit. Calling it mountain out of molehill attributes far more importance to it than it deserves.

    In making fun of Johnson, the New York Times made themselves look even dumber than him — they lectured him that Aleppo is the capital of the Islamic State (it isn’t — Raqaa is).

  10. robert capozzi

    At the risk of going go all Andy, I might even say this has the feel of an orchestrated takedown. John Heilemann chasing GJ into lobby, really?

  11. Be Rational

    Gotta wonder how Gary spends his time.

    Aleppo is such a major issue that it has been used for weeks by CNN and others as an hourly news promotion to get viewers to watch their various news shows. Reporters are using their coverage of the war there as major career stepping stones.

    Gary, you didn’t know?

    Damn ask us.

  12. Darcy G Richardson

    “At the risk of going go all Andy, I might even say this has the feel of an orchestrated takedown.” — Robert Capozzi

    Seriously, Bob? Ask Gary Johnson anything but a softball question, and it’s some sort of orchestrated attempt to destroy his candidacy?

    Give me a break. The crisis in Aleppo has been all over the news for quite some time now.

  13. Anthony Dlugos

    RC,

    It just seems to me that it’s a wonkish foreign policy question, one that the average voter could care less about, and people like the interviewer are by now conditioned to think is vital.

    To me, Mr. Knapp is getting at it here: the great mass of voters do not care about Aleppo. Why not just say that in some way?

  14. Darcy G Richardson

    Well, it is a humanitarian crisis that a President should at least be aware of, whether or not he or she might be willing to do something about it. Johnson clearly isn’t. Just saying…

  15. Be Rational

    Aleppo is not a wonkish policy question. Knowing the names of all the factions and where their strongholds aer and who their leaders are – that would be a wonkish policy question.

  16. Darcy G Richardson

    “It just seems to me that it’s a wonkish foreign policy question, one that the average voter could care less about…” — Anthony Dlugos

    It’s only a “wonkish” question if your targeted constituency is the lowest or most poorly informed segment of the American electorate.

  17. Be Rational

    Gary is finally getting coverage though, so maybe this gaff will help with name recognition.

    At least we know why the Johnson campaign doesn’t advertise on the major network broadcast news in targeted states …

    … Apparently neither he nor his manager knew that there was major network broadcast news.

  18. Tony From Long Island

    I haven’t watched the clip because I felt sorry for him when I read it.

    I know what Aleppo is but I also could not point it out on a map of Syria.

    I think his humility is a strength. I like that he owned it immediately.

    Trump could have said last night “of course the Generals know more about ISIS than I do. It was a figure of speech . . ” but he was his usual arrogant and egotistical self. I like that Gary is not that at all.

    There is no doubt he should be knowledgeable about the situation in Syria. Even a “purist” anarchist should KNOW what’s going on in the world (even if they think its not our problem). But he is correct that he would be surrounded by experts giving him briefings.

    He’s very close to losing my vote, though.

  19. Anthony Dlugos

    The average voter does not care.

    I’m not arguing damage wasn’t done. He should have known what Aleppo is. But to me not only is this easily overcome, I’d use it as a chance to go on the offensive regarding Libertarian foreign policy. My worry in this case is that I don’t know if Johnson has that in him.

    Tens of millions of voters do not give a shit about Aleppo. Not one shit.

  20. Darcy G Richardson

    “At least we know why the Johnson campaign doesn’t advertise on the major network broadcast news in targeted states …

    … Apparently neither he nor his manager knew that there was major network broadcast news.” — Be Rational

    That might have been the best comment ever on IPR.

  21. Anthony Dlugos

    “It’s only a “wonkish” question if your targeted constituency is the lowest or most poorly informed segment of the American electorate.”

    In other words, the tens of millions of average voters outside the Beltway who think Aleppo is dog food. Exactly.

  22. Massimo

    This is frankly shameful. Any aspiring president of the US should have at least the knowledge of the world that comes from regularly reading, say, The Economist. I can’t imagine Ron Paul not to be able to answer that question immediately.

    As much as it pains me to say it, I start to think that Gary is not presidential material.

  23. Anthony Dlugos

    Yea, but Ron Paul is an 80-year old softcore racist homophobe hocking ready to eat meals in preparation for the apocalypse now.

  24. George Phillies

    It has been apparent since the Florida debate that the candidate knows very little about a great deal. Astute viewers will have noticed that when he was asked serious questions on some of the town halls, he would immediately pass the questions off to Weld.

    However: http://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/2016/09/07/gary-johnson-says-this-plan-from-90s-will-create-invincible-national-defense.html

    Gary Johnson Says This Plan From the 90s Will Create an ‘Invincible National Defense’
    During an interview on Cavuto: Coast to Coast, Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson reacted to Donald Trump’s plan for more military spending and explained how he would make an “impenetrable and invincible national defense.”

    The notion that it is *possible* to have an invincible national defense is just plain crazy, and has been plain crazy since the mid-1950s. Readers who differ are referred to the later of our now-declassified war plans with Russia, such as Half Moon.

  25. Tony From Long Island

    Senor Dlugaos stated: ” . . . . Tens of millions of voters do not give a shit about Aleppo. Not one shit. . . . ”

    Really? Tens of Millions? Tens? I think not. You really think there are that many people lacking human empathy in this country? You many not want US soldiers there to help, but not to care about what is a terrible humanitarian crisis is a different story.

    To me it is completely a UN issue (as with most international situations in my opinion). The UN should be leading with a force consisting of every possible nation that will assist (including the U.S.).

    But to say that tens of millions of people here “do not give a shit” about what is happening in Aleppo is likely untrue. If it is true, it’s a really sad commentary on society.

  26. Darcy G Richardson

    “In other words, the tens of millions of average voters outside the Beltway who think Aleppo is dog food.” — Anthony Dlugos

    Yep, apparently that’s Gary’s constituency.

    Thank God my dog only eats Purina Mighty Dog — the chicken, egg & bacon country platter. She won’t eat anything else, and she’d never, ever vote for a Libertarian like Gary Johnson.

    She was a stray when she adopted me at six months of age and she loves other strays— cats and dogs alike. She’s older now, but she’s the coolest dog I’ve ever had.

  27. Dave

    If the American people cared about this sort of stuff, the two major party nominees would not be Hillary “Like with a Cloth?” Clinton and Donald “Take the oil and build the wall” Trump.

    I personally don’t care at all. I’m sure President’s Obama and Bush know a great deal about Syria and the mid east. They had the best advisors from the best schools. And they helped to cause a huge clusterf*ck over there. So, as they say, “book learnin'” ain’t everything.

  28. Thomas Knapp

    “Really? Tens of Millions? Tens? I think not.”

    I agree. Out of the US population of a little more than 300 million, I would be surprised if as many as 30 million knew what the hell Aleppo is, and if half of those 30 million gave a shit about it. So the correct answer to “how many Americans probably don’t give a shit about Aleppo?” is probably “hundreds of millions.”

  29. Tony from Long Island

    Darcy, better keep it a secret that your dog is a registered voter or the republicans will accuse you of (non-existent) voter fraud.

  30. Anthony Dlugos

    Tony,

    Let me flesh out my point here…if I’m Johnson, I’m definitely NOT coming out and saying that no one gives a shit. What’s going on there is tragic.

    I’m just arguing that the campaign team needs to take into account that very few if any voters are gonna make their decision based on the candidates’ Aleppo policy. Most voters would agree with him if he gave some variation of the…”why is this our business?” routine.

    Damage control is necessary. This is not a fatal blow.

  31. Be Rational

    Gary Johnson: ‘What is Aleppo?’

    CNN-2 hours ago

    (CNN) Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson stumbled while answering a question about the Syrian refugee crisis on Thursday, …

    Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson: ‘What is Aleppo?’
    Politico-5 hours ago

    Politics|’What Is Aleppo?’ Gary Johnson Asks, in an Interview Stumble
    Highly Cited-New York Times-4 hours ago

    WATCH: In Morning Interview, Gary Johnson Asks ‘What Is Aleppo?’
    Opinion-NPR-3 hours ago

    Gary Johnson Wants to Be President, Doesnt Know What Aleppo Is
    International-Daily Beast-4 hours ago

    Questioned on Syria Crisis, Gary Johnson Draws a Blank; ‘What Is …
    Blog-Wall Street Journal (blog)-4 hours ago

    *****
    Yup. He finally broke through. He’s gettting covered now.

    Another great thing about running broadcast TV ads is that your media team gets to edit before you run them.

    *****
    But, I’d have to agree that tens of millions of voters don’t care at all about Syria, or even know what Aleppo is. That doesn’t make me feel any better about the world, Americans in general, this campaign or the shame of having a LP candidate make such a flub.

  32. Thomas Knapp

    “That doesn’t make me feel any better about the world, Americans in general, this campaign or the shame of having a LP candidate make such a flub.”

    Well, I agree with all that.

    But anyone who didn’t know Johnson was completely clueless before he flubbed a question about Aleppo wasn’t paying attention.

  33. itdoesntmatterttomuch

    So many elitist and/or autistic comments in this thread, I don’t know where to start. Yeah, actually I do. I think Knapp got it in the first comment.

  34. Darcy G Richardson

    “Darcy, better keep it a secret that your dog is a registered voter or the republicans will accuse you of (non-existent) voter fraud.” — Tony from Long Island

    She’s always barked at our African-American mail carrier, so the Republicans here in Jacksonville have always believed — mistakenly, as it turns out — that she’s one of their own.

  35. Anthony Dlugos

    As I have mentioned to Mr. Knapp before, commiserate with any of you over a bottle of whiskey I will that we don’t have a better candidate.

    Stay off the kratom pipe if you think we had a better option in Orlando.

  36. Thomas Knapp

    Is kratom smoked? The only two times I’ve used it I took it as a drink.

    “Better” is a term of subjective valuation.

    I agree that Derrick Michael Reid would not have been a “better” choice than Johnson by almost any set of criteria.

    By MY criteria, Perry, McAfee, Petersen or Feldman would all have been much better choices.

  37. robert capozzi

    woah, GJ knows about some of the basic issues in Syria, he just didn’t know the name of Aleppo. He gets a D- in geography. He diagnosed the problem–nation-building and interventionism. He’s sketchy on a solution because anyone who thinks there’s solution has been hanging around with Be Rational too much! 😉

    Know-it-all-ism — especially closed-minded know-it-all-ism — is an epidemic.

    Step back: Is Aleppo-Gate worse than Trump’s long list of horrors? Do you buy HRC’s amazing and shifting stories about her emails and the interrelationship with the Clinton Global Initiative? Her piss poor performance as Sec’y of State? And on and on?

    Aleppo could be Quayle’s misspelling of potato. Or, in this wacky year, it might just be a breath of fresh air. See GJ on THE VIEW today.

  38. Chuck Moulton

    I agree: they are making a mountain out of molehill. Most voters don’t expect candidates to know every city and world leader. I only knew about Aleppo because I watch 60 Minutes.

    But on the plus side, maybe it will motivate more debate prep (for the main stage with Trump / Clinton or for the consolation stage with Stein / Castle).

  39. Shivany Lane

    To begin with, yeah he could have been confused, you have to keep a lot of stuff in your mnd when running for President and in reality, Bush the Junior knew nothing, he just had people working for him who did.

    Secondly, Thomas, while i really , really hate to disagree with you, my 82 year old friend who is not political at all knows where and what Aleppo is. However he does spend much of his time watching Fox news so he has the skewed story about the what. Still he could answer that question.

    Thirdly, AMcCarrick, on the Rachel Maddow show, she asked the representative from the team that gives the security briefings if they are going to start also giving them to third party candidates. He acknowledged that since Johnson was polling so high, they were condisering it. I don’t think that would have made a difference, however, I wanted to put that out there since many of you missed it before when I mentioned it.

    And finally, he pays his campaign advisors enough for them to keep him educated on the important things. Remember Sarah Palin? She was briefed by her team, and she had a team, every day on everything going on around the world. Since one of Johnson’s “selling points” is that he is some cannabis king, he really, really needs to step up his game so that he does not look like he has been huffing (sorry he does edibles) his own product. He needs to be sharp and quick. Laid back may be OK for a governor, this is for an office where with a few button pushes you can annihilate the world.

    We have the stoner vote. We need the serious adult vote.

  40. Be Rational

    Mr. “Potatoe” Head never recovered from his spelling flub. His political career ended that day.

    ****

    There may be no good solution to the problems in Syria – but every candidate for any Federal office this year should know what Aleppo is, where it is, and why it’s important.

  41. Don Wills

    This is addressed to all of the apologists for GJ. George Phillies got it right when he wrote –

    “[GJ] knows very little about a great deal. Astute viewers will have noticed that when he was asked serious questions on some of the town halls, he would immediately pass the questions off to Weld.”

    He’s a horrible candidate. He speaks poorly. He is uninformed. He IS NOT Libertarian.

    Those of you who support GJ because he’s the LP candidate are no better than Ds who support Hillary or Rs who support DJT because she/he is on their team. 🙁

  42. Darcy G Richardson

    “I agree: they are making a mountain out of molehill.” — Chuck Moulton

    C’mon, Chuck. He’s supposedly running for president of the United States. War-torn Aleppo has been in the news for months. Doesn’t Gary Johnson ever read a newspaper?

  43. robert capozzi

    cm, they damn well better lock him down with both pithy facts, elegant rhetoric, and delaying/deflecting tactics.

    Cut the radio ad spending to do so, if need be!

  44. Anthony Dlugos

    Don checking in from the Hysterical
    Faction of the Radical Clubhouse.

    I’d recognize that absolutism anywhere.

  45. JamesT

    I feel like GJ did an ok job in 2012 and was vaguely informed. Spent the next three years getting high. Realized no one high profile was running for LP nod and decided he out to do it but didn’t want to. Since he didn’t want to waste his time he got his old buddy Bill to run cause he’s desperate for media approval. The media gave him a pass cause they thought he took more votes from Trump. Realized, finally, he takes more votes from their beloved Hillary. Now the teeth are out. This will be the first of many. I wonder if he’ll even get the 1% of 2012. He clearly didn’t want or prepare to run this time around and now it’s finally showing. But that said I doubt most Americans give a crap what Aleppo is. Just political jockeys. But most Amerians don’t vote.

  46. Shivany Lane

    Mr. “Potatoe” Head never recovered from his spelling flub. His political career ended that day.

    ****

    And don’t forget Gore saying he invented the internet, which is partially true.
    And Gore’s “LockBox”.

    ****************

    Oh and the Dean Scream that we now know what digitally enhanced to make it sound scarier and more maniacal

    *******************

    Then there was the Pizza Man’s Uzbekibekibekistan

    ********************

    Or Sarah Palin with her, what newspapers and magazines do you read , “All of them”.

    **********************

    The big two parties have the money and the infrastructure to send in a clean-up team to make sure it is spun any way they want. Apparently Gary Johnson needs a new team.

    As a footnote: John McAfee would not only be able to tell you where and what Aleppo is, he has possibly been there. He would then be able to tell you what happened there at least last week if not yesterday. And as icing on the cake, I have NEVER seen John give a blank stare and have to be explained anything. He would have an answer, maybe not an excellent one, but at least a good answer to that question. And he was the CRAZY one.

  47. robert capozzi

    br: every candidate for any Federal office this year should know what Aleppo is, where it is, and why it’s important.

    me: They do now! This may have been the first time anyone labeled it “Aleppo,” vs. the more standard Syrian Civil War or its equivalent, and made it into a gotcha, and then banged the drum all day about it.

    Then again, Trump has caught up to Clinton again, so the apparatchiks might be getting desperate.

    AD, actually Don is more of a free thinker, was an early reformer IIRC, and I think is more of a Paulista. I don’t agree with his conclusion, which looks false on its face, given how well GJ is doing in so many state polls. GJ is doing poorly in the Wallace 68 states, which is dragging his averages down.

  48. Jill Pyeatt

    This IS a mountain out of a molehill.

    I believe Gary did very well on The View, despite having to sit right next to the hateful and woefully dumb Joy Behar. I’m hoping to find a video of it soon.

  49. Rebel Alliance

    Johnson should’ve heard about Aleppo, but it’s excusable that he didn’t.

    A lot of reporters in the media are full of themselves, and expect everyone in the country to sit riveted in front of their TVs or computer screens every day, lapping up every precious word they say or write.

    It’s not possible for someone to know everything. And Johnson has obviously had his hands full with certain time-consuming activities over the past year.

  50. Thomas Knapp

    Anthony,

    Ten years ago, Don Wills was … well … you. He left the LP because we weren’t “serious” about nominating any and every Republican claimant to fame or riches who came down the pike. IIRC, he went so far as to found a new, “serious” party in Wyoming that got precisely nowhere.

  51. Anthony Dlugos

    Mr. Knapp,

    Are you telling my I’m gonna be still posting here on this website in 10 years?

    For gods sake, pass the kratom pipe.

  52. George Phillies

    A safe answer is to focus on a different pair of words in the question, namely “do about”.

    Do about? Do about? That’s the problem with the Democrats and Republicans. They see an issue, and they immediately want the government to do something about it. And what is the most important part of ‘do about’? It’s the money that is sucked out of your wallet and into the federal treasury and finally into the hands of their campaign donors and campaign donor companies. And, with great regularity, do about is not only about throwing away money but about sending our young men and women to strange foreign countries so they can die in pointless wars and be brought home in a box.

  53. Thomas Knapp

    I’m not interested enough in Johnson to sit through an episode of The View.

    That said, I DID sit through MSNBC’s “Commander in Chief Forum” last night, mostly because I was kind of hoping Clinton would have one of her seizures, or maybe even stroke out and expire, right there on stage, and/or that Trump would whip it out and urinate all over Matt Lauer.

    Anyone who thinks that Clinton or Trump is anywhere in the same universe as fit for command of the US armed forces is smoking felony amounts of crack.

  54. JamesT

    I thought he came off okay. He just always comes as goofy and a bit clueless. I think his success is more a reflection of how bad the other two are.

  55. dL

    “We have the stoner vote. We need the serious adult vote.”

    The serious adult voice is the fatal conceit. A conceit that has killed upwards of a quarter of million people and resulted in millions of war refugees. The serious adult voice, the one that thinks it can intervene in the affairs of another country because it can point it out on a map on television, is a WAR CRIMINAL.

    If only the world was run by stoners, junkies and freaks. It would be a lot better place. Stoner Gary Johnson is his best quality.

  56. Thomas Knapp

    Anthony,

    I’ll pass your question on to my dad, Mr. Knapp.

    It’s been a looooooooong time since I’ve seen Don Wills post anywhere. Glad to know he’s still alive, to be honest. Like Gunnery Sergeant Hartman says, Don is silly and he’s ignorant, but he’s got guts and guts is enough.

  57. robert capozzi

    GP, well put. ISIS is not our greatest national security threat. The $20 trillion debt is.

  58. Jill Pyeatt

    TK said: “That said, I DID sit through MSNBC’s “Commander in Chief Forum” last night, mostly because I was kind of hoping Clinton would have one of her seizures, or maybe even stroke out and expire, right there on stage,”

    Same here, and I confess to being disappointed when she didn’t.

    I can’t wait to see how many people don’t apologize to me for ridiculing my criticism of her health over the past year.

  59. dL

    I wouldn’t know Aleppo from a hole in the wall. I doubt many Americans without ties to the region–outside of Sothwestern asian scholars and/or geography buffs–would be any better informed. That is, if you are not watching the screens, like I don’t. I used to be a bit of a satellite/cable news junkie, but I gave it up b/c I don’t have the stomach for endless state war propaganda. Pravda, Inc. Those who watch it appear to be more or less on crack to those who no longer watch it. Seriously. 15 years of continuous war. No end in sight. Whenever I happen to catch a cable news segment on someone else’s TV, I am bit shocked of how much it resembles a bad 80s Arnold dystopian flick(like the Running Man).

    That Johnson was unaware of Aleppo means he is not getting his head filled with beltway crack security briefings. That’s a plus for me. Unfortunately, the chirping crackheads will probably cajole him to further sink into the cesspool groupthink of war criminals, looters, liars and thieves otherwise known as Washington, DC.

  60. RandomVoter

    FWIW, it seems like Johnson really, really screwed up here. But he isn’t helped by an idiotic media that will jump at a chance to “disqualify” a third-party candidate. The media is really failing in their responsibilities once again, this time because they are overly willing to report on a third-party candidate’s gaffes, and not willing enough to include third parties in their everyday coverage. This afternoon NPR ran a story about this gaffe in their national headlines, heard by millions. Why isn’t there equal coverage when Johnson says something informed? I realize that they’re covering it because it’s unexpected, but it also serves to make our democracy that much more dysfunctional–that’s all most voters will hear about Gary Johnson today or even this week.

    Just look at this clip from MSNBC later in the day to see the ridiculous double standard. On the one hand, the questioner asks if this disqualifies Johnson from the debates. On the other hand, he takes Trump’s ridiculous statement about “the generals” at face value.

  61. robert capozzi

    br: Mr. “Potatoe” Head never recovered from his spelling flub. His political career ended that day.

    me: Yes, that’s how recall it, too. Difference was: DQ was persistent in his ignorance. GJ owned it.

    Many pols survive gaffes. What’s so attractive about GJ is his humility, particularly in light of the arrogance of his rivals.

    I note that the always-competent Chairman Nick put out a graph of “ALLEPO” web searches, post the Morning Joe takedown. Through the roof! Evidence that many of us were also failed that geography quiz.

    This could be a lemons into lemonade kinda moment.

  62. robert capozzi

    http://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/08/gary-johnsons-syria-gaffe-could-help-one-major-candidate-more-than-the-other.html

    This article illustrates how the media works. The header says “Syria gaffe,” but there was no “Syria gaffe.” Instead, there was an “Aleppo gaffe.”

    Notice that they say how HRC does better in 2 way vs 4 way races. By all indications, NBC wants HRC to win, so let’s take down GJ with an obscure, weird question. Now, yes, GJ probably should have known the name, but even the phrasing was odd. If Barnicle had said, “What would you do about the civil war and civilians atrocities in Syria, GJ would have probably handled the question just fine.

    That Scarborough piled on, and they kept piling on as the show went on, tells me there was an agenda there. I would not be surprised if they had another gotcha had Aleppo not tripped up Honest Johnson….

  63. steve m

    Former US Ambassador to Iraq under the Obama Administration picks the wrong city as the “Capital” of ISIS in Syria while complaining about Gary Johnson’s lack of Syrian Geography knowledge.
    That explains a lot our problems in Syria and Iraq. The former US Ambassador Christopher Hill thinks that the besieged Syrian city is the capital of ISIS. The actual ISIS “capital” in Syria would be Al-Raqqah well to the east of Allepo.
    Now if a career foreign officer of the Ambassador level who represented the US in the next country over makes this kind of mistake I am going to have to giver Gary a pass even though I cringed when I read it.

    https://youtu.be/TCDozQ_OsnU

  64. Don Wilks

    TK – not silly and not ignorant. Ran for Governor in 2014 and got 6% of the vote, more than the LP and CP candidates combined. Ask Andy.

  65. Gene Berkman

    I think most people know there is a crisis in Syria, brought on by a repressive government using extreme means to fight insurgent groups, some of whom are also quite brutal. But few people would immediately identify the Syria crisis by an unexplained reference to a particular city. I watch CNN and MSNBC every day and I have not really heard the word Aleppo until this morning. Honest.

    Hilary says “you can look it up on a map.” Is that what she says to the bomber pilots before they go on a bombing run over Syria? Maybe Gary Johnson could not see the immediate meaning of the question about Aleppo, which was really a question about the Syria crisis. But Hilary Clinton has a bigger problem, not knowing that US military intervention in the Middle East has taken a bad situation and made it much worse. All the trivia questions in the world don’t make up for that kind of ignorance.

  66. Thomas Knapp

    Don,

    But you were so SERIOUS. The reason the LP wasn’t WINNING was because it wasn’t as SERIOUS as you.

    How is 6% WINNING anywhere outside Charlie Sheen’s mind or SERIOUS anywhere outside yours?

  67. Thomas Knapp

    The question was pretty obviously structured for “gotcha purposes.”

    What will you do about Aleppo?

    What will you do about supercalafragilisticexpialadocious?

    How will you handle the henway?

    Any time you see the major party candidates asked questions about Syria the questions get pretty clear framing.

    If I didn’t happen to work for Antiwar.com, I’d assume, like others have said they assumed, that Aleppo was a dog food or a prescription medication.

  68. Anthony Dlugos

    Gene,

    I just listened to the exchange.

    I’m a Johnson supporter, so take it with your grain of salt, and Gary should know where Aleppo is, but that sure was a curious way to ask a question about the Syrian civil war.

  69. Anthony Dlugos

    You work for Antiwar.com.? That’s a good site. I like that site.

    Now I’m wondering why Gary even apologized.

    Damnit this nice guy routine better work.

  70. Thomas Knapp

    Yes, I’ve worked for Antiwar.com for years (starting as a volunteer, now accepting pay but keeping it below minimum wage), doing minor stuff (comment moderation, setting up stuff for social media feeds, etc.). They publish my stuff sometimes, too.

  71. Shivany Lane

    Yes, this is a mountain out of a molehill, who cares if the future POTUS knows where or what Aleppo is. Well I care but I am a political wonk.

    I did my own informal survey today. Stopping people randomly on the street and asking them the same thing. Keep in mind that they were walking down the street and not in an interview that had been set up to discuss politics.

    My question was, “if you were President, what would you do about Aleppo?”

    over 50 % of them knew what and roughly where Aleppo was, meaning they knew it was in Syria and was creating a refugee problem in Europe. The other ones had to ask where it was, however, the ones who didn’t know, did not stare at me with a blank stare and say, what is Aleppo. the common question was… “Aleppo, is that the city in Syria or the Middle East somewhere?”.

    But so what. who cares, it really is minor in the grand scheme of things. My issue is with the way he has that blank stare like his head is a cloud. Shrubby Bush used to do that before he would come out with some kind of weird saying, like “Dead or Alive”.

    As George Philies has pointed out to us, the Johnson campaign spends a small fortune on political advisers and campaign advisers. If you are making apologies for GJ for this little molehill, this is the minor leagues. If he gets in the debate, that is the major leagues and there will not be time to try and figure out what the question is. That’s why Obama lost the first debate with Romney. Either he needs a new team, or they need to have a fire lit under their feet.

  72. George Dance

    So, what’s a leppoe?

    There’s a big difference in not recognizing a word,when it’s spelled out on a page (which it is, for all the people having a hoot about it), and when asked about it with no context, so one doesn’t even know if it’s a common or proper noun.

    The only reason I’m pointing that out is because, of course, that point is going to be completely buried: this will go down in history as “Gary Johnson didn’t know where Aleppo was”, or something similar.

  73. Don Wills

    Here’s my history for readers like Anthony who might save some time in their learning curve going down the freedom trail (err.. rabbit hole).

    In the 2007-2008 election cycle, I had retired and decided I should get into politics. I’d been a big fan of Ron Paul for many years. Joined the Wyoming GOP. I founded the Wyoming chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus. Worked like crazy to get Ron Paul one delegate from my county. Saw the Wyoming Republican Party from the inside at a high level. Was appalled. Then after I saw what they did to deep six us Ron Pauler’s, I vowed to never darken the GOP door again, and to never, ever call my self a Republican.

    2009-2010 Wyoming Libertarian Party chairman. Got it cleaned up and found some candidates. Attended the 2010 National LP convention. Figured out the LP was a complete waste of time until they figure out if they are in favor of taxation (ie. government) or are anarchists. Ran away from the LP as fast as I could.

    2011-2012 Founded the Wyoming Country Party on the assumption that third parties were fine, except that the LP were philosophically flawed (they don’t agree with themselves on what they stand for). Got the party qualified and on the ballot. I was the candidate for US House. Got less than 2% of the vote so ballot qualification evaporated (in Wyoming you only get one try). Figured out the problem wasn’t the LP – it was the concept of third party that was flawed.

    2013-2014 Got on the ballot as independent candidate for governor. Result was far superior to anything the third parties in Wyoming had ever done. And I’m an outsider, having only lived in Wyoming for 9 years at the time.

    In essence, I’ve been running my own (anecdotal) political test for the last 8 years. Here are my conclusions:

    Third parties exist because they have a single issue that keeps them together. The LP is drug legalization. The CP is abortion. The reality is voters think they are crazy. But neither voters nor third parties are the problem.

    My conclusion (today) is that the problem is that a single winner, first-past-the-post system of elections with a separately elected executive leader (president/governor) virtually guarantees that two and only two parties can exist. Until the system of elections is changed, nothing will change.

    So, IMHO, the only election that actually matters this year is Question 5 in Maine – adopting IRV for *all* elected offices. Without a significant change like IRV, third parties, real or virtual, are a complete waste of time. But with IRV, the power of all political parties will diminish, and hopefully in the far distant future, that influence will disappear.

    The only other possible explanation for my few data points is that self-government is simply not sustainable, and the experiment that Jefferson, Madison, et al embarked on is in the process of self-destructing. I hope that this explanation is wrong, but the more I learn, the more likely it seems to me to be reality.

  74. Thomas Knapp

    “Third parties exist because they have a single issue that keeps them together. The LP is drug legalization.”

    Obviously you didn’t spend enough time in the LP to get a handle on what drives it.

    Drug legalization is, generally speaking, always in the top three or top five issues for the LP.

    Drug legalization is OCCASIONALLY at the top of the list.

    The next time it’s the LP’s single issue will be the first time it’s the LP’s single issue.

  75. Andy

    Don, I think a big part of the reason that you did better in the 2014 Wyoming Governor’s race that the Libertarian Party and Constitution Party candidates did is because you actually ran a campaign and the others did not do much of anything when it came to running a campaign. The same went for independent candidate for US Senate, Curt Gottshall, who ran that same year and received around 8% of the vote.

    I worked on the petition drive to put Don and Curt on the ballot (they were not running together, but just happened to be running at the same time, so they coordinated with each for their petition drives for ballot access). I, along with some other petition circulators who worked on that drive, handed out lots of Don Wills for Governor and Curt Gottshall for US Senate cards to people, and we told people to check out their websites. Getting those cards out to lots of people probably made somewhat of a difference.

    The Libertarian Party has had candidates for Governor and US Senate who have gotten 5-10% of the vote, and a few even got more than 10% of the vote, so I do not think it is a case of running as an independent is better than running as a minor party candidate. I think that vote totals have more to do with the following factors:

    1) The amount of time, money, and effort put into a campaign.

    2) The market conditions of the election.

  76. steve m

    “It has been apparent since the Florida debate that the candidate knows very little about a great deal. Astute viewers will have noticed that when he was asked serious questions on some of the town halls, he would immediately pass the questions off to Weld.”

    As the CEO of a very small high tech company…. I figured out there was no way I could know everything…. that is why you hire key people to cover everything you don’t know and then you listen to them. So yea, if Gary knows Bill has a better answer then give it to Bill.

    Mr Knapp…. there are times you are completely right. This is one of them.

  77. Don Wills

    Andy – you could be right, but the results are actually irrelevant to my conclusion which is that

    3rd parties are NOT a problem, but are also NOT a solution, with respect to trying to dismantle the monopoly that the Ds and Rs have over our government. The problem is structural and impossible to overcome without major change to our system of elections. IMO, adoption of Maine Question 5 is the one change being decided this year that could be a solution if widely adopted.

  78. Pingback: Johnson Reaches 9 Percent, All Time High in Real Clear Politics Poll Average | Independent Political Report

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  80. Be Rational

    “Many pols survive gaffes. What’s so attractive about GJ is his humility, particularly in light of the arrogance of his rivals.
    I note that the always-competent Chairman Nick put out a graph of “ALLEPO” web searches, post the Morning Joe takedown. Through the roof! Evidence that many of us were also failed that geography quiz.”

    “This could be a lemons into lemonade kinda moment.” = RC

    *
    Yes, this could indeed be spun into a positive. Let’s hope they can swing that. Use the gaff to get attention, be humble, explain your EDUCATED views (lots of prep needed) and score on the rebound.

  81. robert capozzi

    The day after, this will be an interesting test. There have been MANY things that DJT and HRC have not known about in this cycle, many questions about their character and judgment. And yet some in the media jumped GJ for not knowing Aleppo.

    Being as objective as possible, I would think that fair- and open-minded voters would say, What’s the big deal about not knowing the name of a city in Syria?

    At this stage, let’s keep in mind that the media is held in low regard. Most are onto their profound biases. Even other media have jumped on this, with the NYT completely fucking the story up, having to correct it twice.

    Of course, most don’t drill down that deep into media-land. They might just see GJ…gaffe…Aleppo…disqualified. My guess is most might say, I don’t know Aleppo, either. Don’t like Trump or Clinton. Who is GJ?

    In-crowders, in-crowder wanna bes, or those who enjoy villification, might well fall into the Salem Witch Trial mindset, and shout Disqualified.

    ****

    Were I coaching GJ, I might show him vids where he gets the deer-in-the-headlights look, as he did with Aleppo. He needs I think almost neurological training for these moments, where he seems to float into space with a blank stare.

    If he feels his Inner Deer coming on, he needs some sort of lifeline. I’m not sure what that might be. Could be something like a question: Can you be more specific? Or even, I’m sorry, I’m running for president against the two most unpopular candidates of all time, so I’ve got a lot on my mind. Please rephrase the question.

  82. Anthony Dlugos

    RC,

    Good post. I was thinking much the same things.

    Because of the disdain the general public has for the main stream media and Johnson’s willingness to admit he messed up, this not only might not be a fatal blow, he could use the additional media coverage to his advantage. I’ve already seen clips of a few media folks saying they thought it was a gotcha question..

    That being said, he’s only going to get one bite at this apple; another gaffe demonstrating a lack of knowledge and that one may be fatal.

    His honesty undid him here. Trump would have blustered right through it about “I would handle Aleppo so good you wouldn’t believe,” and of course that includes even if he had no idea what Aleppo is. Hillary (again, in the scenario where she had no idea what Aleppo is) would have handled it like a political/legal pro, drawing out information before she called her shot. Johnson answered it the worst way possible: admitting ignorance. Think Hillary would have fallen for that? No damn way.

    Johnson’s campaign clearly can’t just educate him on Aleppo and the Syrian civil war; the next gotcha question is gonna be about something else. He definitely needs some kind of safe phrase to pull out of his quiver when he gets a question like this, or even an issue he knows something about, but needs time to think about his response (say, the drug war). I don’t care what the phrase is. “Please clarify,” “what do you mean by that?” “In what respect.” I don’t care what it is, but he needs to keep saying it in these situations until he has his bearings or obtains the necessary information without demonstrating ignorance on a topic.

  83. Massimo

    I am sorry, but I still think this was a gaffe of epic proportion and showed that Johnson is not prepared for the task. It is true, as mentioned above, that maybe only 30 millions of Americans know about Aleppo, but among those there are the guys that we should convince. People that understand economics, know the difference between liberal in American sense and classical-liberalism, know the role of TR in the Spanish-American war and the start of American imperialism. These are intelligent, educated people curious about the world. They subscribe and devote hours per week to read the WSJ, the NYT, the Economist. They are now wrong and misguided, but part of them can be swayed. Our message, in economics, on imperialism, on personal liberty, is often complex and always against the statism inculcated in school and in the mainstream media. You need a rational, calm discussion (or many), rooted in facts and history, to convince people. These guys have the intellectual tools and the curiosity to expose themselves to discussion and eventually accept our message. And once they are with us, they can sway a lot of other people, because these are the opinion leader in their communities, they will bring with them Trumpists and good-faith Berneds.
    If we work only with stoned kids and preppers, we will always be in the fringes. We need these people, and they can’t imagine as president a guy that does know as much as them about a very political issue that has been in the press for 4 year now. Because Aleppo is for Syria what Sarajevo and Srebenica was in the Balkan wars, it is its symbol. And they will think that even they, humble lawyers and school teachers and doctors, know it.

  84. robert capozzi

    AD, GJ has said he will make more gaffes. Everyone makes gaffes all the time, except BR, who is always right! 😉

    To err is human, after all. Running for prez is a pressure-cooker of epic proportions. I do think GJ should be a bit smoother in recovering from his gaffes, but that takes practice and great staff work.

    So, I disagree that his next gaffe will be fatal. DJT (especially) and HRC are gaffe machines, although both recover quite differently.

  85. Election Addict

    Either he had a brainfart or his advisors haven’t mentioned it to him. He only gets his information from certain people, I gather. And yes, anyone with an opinion on Syria ought to know by now, even if roughly, what Aleppo is, just as anyone with an opinion on the middle east ought to have some idea of what wahhabism is, anyone with an opinion on Ukraine ought to know what Donetsk is, anyone with an opinion on the US ought to know at least three countries they’ve invaded.

  86. Be Rational

    AD, GJ has said he will make more gaffes. Everyone makes gaffes all the time, except BR, who is always right!

    … Wow. A groupie.

  87. robert capozzi

    “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”
    -Charles Spurgeon

  88. Massimo

    Well, if Robert starts with quotes, I’d like to submit the Rothbardian classic:

    It is not a crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all a specialized discipline and one that most people consider “a dismal science”. But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economics subjects remaining in this state of ignorance.

    Or paraphrasing what an old university teacher of mine told me about differential equations and my lack of understanding of basic calculus: “to run for the presidency of the US without knowing what Aleppo is, is like looking for whores without having functioning balls.”

  89. Thomas Knapp

    People get exercised about the strangest things.

    Johnson/Weld run against, rather than for, the LP? Crickets.

    Johnson doesn’t instantly recognize the name of a city halfway around the world? Armageddon!

    This thing started out being trite and dumb. The dumb to trite ratio seems to be steadily increasing.

  90. dL

    Off topic: but a bit of irony in the line “you’re kidding” coming from Mike Barnicle.

    #theCandidate
    #greatMoviesOfThe70s

  91. Krzysztof Lesiak Post author

    “That said, I DID sit through MSNBC’s “Commander in Chief Forum” last night, mostly because I was kind of hoping Clinton would have one of her seizures, or maybe even stroke out and expire, right there on stage, and/or that Trump would whip it out and urinate all over Matt Lauer.” – TLK

    LOL! That was funny, Thomas.

    One of the things I love most about IPR are the comment threads. It was cool being reminded of the Wyoming Country Party, and Don Willis should feel good about himself that he got 6% of the vote, by all means a respectable showing for third party candidates.

    The GOP War Room threw this clip onto their channel.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hrAVCAwTl0

    Having rewatched the clip a a fair number of times by now, it is apparent that they were out to get him. The polls are tightening, and if it is the case that Johnson is taking more from Hillary (Sandernistas) than from Trump, than it’s no surprise that he may become a target of the mainstream, corporate media’s wrath. If he can keep taking away from Killary zealots, then heck – I have no problem at all with Johnson getting 10 or even 15%. If that can help propel Trump to victory, then I wish “TeamGov” the optimal percentage.

    I’m still sticking with my prediction of 3% for the 50 state ticket – Johnson won’t be in the first debate and it’s extremely unlikely he’ll weasel his way in to the second or third. He’s just nowhere near that 15%.

    If Johnson will go to the Free & Equal debate in late October, then I hope Stein will mop the floor with him on foreign policy and show no mercy. It would be entertaining to see Johnson look sheepish on prime-time television and show his ignorance and predisposition for cracking under pressure – not physical of course, I did like him in 2012 when I first found out about his impressive accomplishments – but mental pressure as it relates to an intense political debate situation. Johnson should read a little and learn some vital things. “If you tell the truth, then you don’t have to memorize anything” is an okay soundbite, but in order to tell (what you perceive to be) the truth, you actually have to KNOW something first.

    Hopefully, Castle will be invited to on the mainstream media. The closest he got was Alex Jones in 2009. Chuck Baldwin got on Lou Dobbs in 2008, Castle should do everything he can to get on Faux News or something this year – even five minutes will let hundreds, if not thousands of people here about him for the first time.

  92. Thomas Knapp

    Krzysztof,

    I don’t share your support for Trump, but I agree with the overall theory:

    Johnson hurts Clinton more than he hurts Trump. Not so much on the basis of issues positions as on the historical fact that Republicans and Republican-leaning voters usually end up either supporting their nominee or staying home, while Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters do occasionally decide, in non-trivial numbers, they can’t hold their noses and end up going off the reservation (sometimes for Republicans, sometimes for third party candidates).

    To the extent that Johnson is seen as hurting Clinton to a degree that can’t be remedied by ignoring him (and presumably media organizations can read poll crosstabs and reach reasonable conclusions on that), he’s probably going to be attacked from here on out.

    I could be wrong, but I expect that Johnson/Weld will hold out to the bitter end for “mainstream recognition” rather than “lower themselves” by debating Stein, Castle et al. That might even be the right answer if the main consideration is keeping the money coming in.

  93. Andy

    If Johnson does not debate Stein he is a hypocrite and a coward.

    If Castle qualifies for enough ballots to have a theoretical shot at winning the election, Johnson should debate him as well.

  94. Anthony Dlugos

    The only way Johnson should debate Stein is if its on a stage where Trump and Clinton are too. Ditto for Castle, although that has zero chance at happening.

    Frankly, this isn’t a Libertarian-centric comment. I’d give the same advice to Stein. In fact, if we are to agree with the Greens on any issue, its to refuse participation in any debate that does not include the dinosaur party candidates.

  95. Thomas Knapp

    As to whether or not Johnson should debate Stein or Castle other than on the “big league” stage:

    Debating Stein alone might have been a bad idea vis a vis optics early on when the campaign was still able to create the impression that Johnson and Weld just might be about to break into the big leagues.

    Now that it’s obvious to anyone who’s paying attention that the wheels have come off that notion, debating Stein would probably be the smart move politically — that is, if the goal is to maximize attention, engagement and votes..

    But it would be the dumb move if the goal is to keep getting the checks rolling in from people who aren’t paying attention so that Ron Nielson can afford to fill his new boat up with beer and snacks and maybe a large screen TV and a reproduction Wurlitzer jukebox before he hitches it to his new truck and drives out to his new vacation home for the post-campaign break.

    I don’t see hypocrisy or cowardice entering into the calculation.

  96. Thomas Knapp

    Oh, I forgot to address debating Castle:

    Gary should only debate Castle if he is also going to debate my mom, the local Cub Scout troop, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and other people who have no impact on, and nothing urgent to say about, politics.

  97. Anthony Dlugos

    A) Considering the unpopularity of the dinosaur party candidates, I’m with Johnson that I would not panic if he misses the first debate, or even the first and the second debates. I would continue hammering home the message that there is no good reason to keep us out. I concede that for this point, I’m refusing any debate Stein separately as a function the horrifically bad candidates of the two major parties THIS cycle.

    B) Even if the major party candidates were not so bad, I would STILL argue that the LP (and Green Party, for that matter) should still refuse any debate that does not include the dinosaurs because I don’t want to be setting any precedents. I don’t expect the Demopublicans to get any more popular going forward into future elections. Hence, time and public support is on our side; there is no reason to make any deal. Given that, you maximize attention with that approach, not with deigning to be a part of a minor-league debate.

    On the other hand, I’m with you on Castle. No debating theocrats unless we are going to include al-Baghdadi.

  98. Andy

    Johnson should debate any candidate who qualifies for enough state ballots to have a theoretical chance at winning the election. This is an argument that LP candidates, including Johnson himself, have made for years when it comes to debating the D’s and R’s, so it would hypocritical for Johnson to not debate any candidate who fits this criteria.

  99. Anthony Dlugos

    Wrong. The argument that the LP and Johnson have been making is that we should be part of the CPD-sponsored main debates. The argument is not that we would debate ANY candidates that fits that criteria. Its that any candidate that fits that criteria should be a part of the main debates.

  100. Andy

    First off, you are wrong, and second of all, why should Johnson complain if Clinton and Trump are too chicken to debate him if he is too chicken to debate Jill Stein and Darrell Castle?

    Given Johnson’s debate performances at LP state conventions leading up the 2016 National Convention, as well as his debate performances at the national convention, I can see why he is afraid to debate Stein and Castle, and I am not so sure that it is a good idea for him debate Clinton and Trump if they do decide to let him in because he is quite frankly not that good of a debater, The lat thing that the LP needs if for Johnson to get on a national stage and have another meltdown or another clueless Aleppo or WW II question moment where he can’t answer the question.

  101. Anthony Dlugos

    I’m not wrong; you’re wrong. The argument in the legal papers and in the court of public opinion where the LP and the Johnson campaign is making the argument is that anyone who is theoretically able to win the White House should be in the main debates. Nowhere is the LP making the argument that we’ll debate anyone who is mathematically eligible, no matter how obscure the debate is.

    Main debate or nothing,

    You are also wrong about Johnson’s debate performance. Most see his performances as real and genuine. Its only the Losertarian Caucus that wants a crazy person on stage screaming hysterically at everyone about legalized heroin for kids and such nuttiness.

  102. Be Rational

    “The argument that the LP and Johnson have been making is that we should be part of the CPD-sponsored main debates. The argument is not that we would debate ANY candidates that fits that criteria. Its that any candidate that fits that criteria should be a part of the main debates.” – AD

    Correct.

    It is logical and not hypocritical to demand inclusion in the CPD debates for any qualifying candidates while refusing to debate anyone outside of the main debates.

    It is also logical and not hypocritical to call for lowering the support threshold to 10% or even 5% along with ballot access in enough states to reach 270 EVs, even if this would still exclude all the other minor party candidates.

  103. Andy

    This reminds me of a pro fighter who ducks opponents so they can hold onto their title longer. The Libertarian Party candidate for President SHOULD BE a person who is willing to take on all comers.

  104. Be Rational

    Non sequitur , Andy.

    What title does Gary Johnson have that he can keep by not debating?

    ***
    If you want to use a boxing reference, GJ is a fighter who outranks all but the top two fighters after the current champ has retired, so he is holding out to face the only other contenders for the title.

  105. Robert Capozzi

    AJ, why?

    What campaign itinerary items should they stop doing? Address the reputation-lowering aspect of the most qualified debating unqualified comers, please.

  106. Thomas Knapp

    “Johnson should debate any candidate who qualifies for enough state ballots to have a theoretical chance at winning the election.”

    As I’ve pointed out more than once, that number of state ballots is: Zero.

  107. Thomas Knapp

    “Its only the Losertarian Caucus that wants a crazy person on stage screaming hysterically at everyone about legalized heroin for kids and such nuttiness.”

    Sigh. You were doing so well for a little while there. Sorry that the voices in your head started up with the weirdness again. Hopefully you can get your medication adjusted even on a Saturday.

  108. George Dance

    Andy: “Johnson should debate any candidate who qualifies for enough state ballots to have a theoretical chance at winning the election. This is an argument that LP candidates, including Johnson himself, have made for years when it comes to debating the D’s and R’s, so it would hypocritical for Johnson to not debate any candidate who fits this criteria.”

    Or it may be a matter of honoring one’s own agreements. When researching the CPD debates, I’ve found there’s another criterion for inclusion, one that never seems to get mentioned: in order to go into their debates, a candidate has to sign a contract that he/she will not engage in any other debates, for anyone.

    Fair and Equal, which invites the Democratic and Republican nominees as well, has tried to get around that by holding their debates after the CPD debates are over; though so far with no success.

  109. Andy

    Thomas Knapp
    September 10, 2016 at 12:48
    “Johnson should debate any candidate who qualifies for enough state ballots to have a theoretical chance at winning the election.”

    As I’ve pointed out more than once, that number of state ballots is: Zero.”

    Getting on enough ballots to have a theoretical chance of winning the election, without having to be a write in candidate, is a pretty big accomplishment and shows that a candidate is serious. This should be enough criteria for debate inclusion.

    I can understand not taking the time to debate candidates who are only on one or a few ballots, or who are write in candidates, during the course of a campaign, but as a general principle, Libertarian Party candidates should not shy away from debates.

    I engage in political debates with people on a very frequent basis, both in person, and online. I expect the same standard of being willing to debate politics from the candidates of the party of which I am a member. If a candidate is too chicken to debate, they should not be candidates.

  110. Andy

    George Dance said: “When researching the CPD debates, I’ve found there’s another criterion for inclusion, one that never seems to get mentioned: in order to go into their debates, a candidate has to sign a contract that he/she will not engage in any other debates, for anyone.”

    1) Has Gary Johnson signed this contract? If not, it does not even apply to him.

    2) This is a stupid, unjust rule, just like many of the other stupid, unjust rules that the CPD has, which we as Libertarians ought to oppose.

  111. Anthony Dlugos

    Andy,

    “I engage in political debates with people on a very frequent basis, both in person, and online. I expect the same standard of being willing to debate politics from the candidates of the party of which I am a member.”

    That’s your problem. You shouldn’t compare your coffee house “take all comers” debates to the conditions under which the LP ticket should debate any more than you should compare the “lick any guy in the joint” belligerent drunk at the local bar to the decisions of the a professional boxer who has to consider the implications of each of his professional fights for the furtheance of his career.

  112. Thomas Knapp

    “Getting on enough ballots to have a theoretical chance of winning the election, without having to be a write in candidate”

    Well, now you’ve already added an exception. How does your exception not constitute hypocrisy, while another does?

    And of course it is theoretically possible to be elected without appearing on any ballots OR being a write-in candidate.

    “Has Gary Johnson signed this contract? If not, it does not even apply to him.”

    Whether he has signed it or not, if he debates Stein tomorrow and then somehow miraculously resurges to 15% before the first Big League debate, the CPD will still say “sorry, we only invite candidates who meet the threshold AND who go by the rules, and one of the rules is ‘no debates but ours.’ Here’s a copy of our home game, thanks for playing.”

  113. George Dance

    Andy: “George Dance said: “When researching the CPD debates, I’ve found there’s another criterion for inclusion, one that never seems to get mentioned: in order to go into their debates, a candidate has to sign a contract that he/she will not engage in any other debates, for anyone.”
    1) Has Gary Johnson signed this contract? If not, it does not even apply to him.

    Not that I know of. I suppose he’ll be asked to sign only if he meets the other qualifications; but I’m sure his campaign is aware of it, and so I think he won’t be making any other debate commitments until the CPD thing is settled.

    2) This is a stupid, unjust rule, just like many of the other stupid, unjust rules that the CPD has, which we as Libertarians ought to oppose.

    Agreed. But if it’s a question of refusing to sign, or getting on the debate stage, I expect him to hold his nose and sign.

  114. Be Rational

    “Agreed. But if it’s a question of refusing to sign, or getting on the debate stage, I expect him to hold his nose and sign.”

    Might work better if he holds a pen.

  115. Shivany Lane

    The CPD is a company. It is not the government.

    We, as Libertarians, believe in the free market, thats a fact. As I understand it, the government should stay out of the free market.

    How is it that we as Libertarians should oppose the CPD given the above facts. I am not being snarky, I am just wondering why we oppose the FDA, the EPA, the IRS and many other alphabet soup organizations because they prevent the Free Market from functioning, yet here we are, trying to prevent the Free Market from functioning.

  116. Thomas Knapp

    Shivany,

    The CPD is not a company.

    The CPD is a mechanism for allowing companies to contribute massive amounts of money to the Republican and Democratic parties in a way that gets around the campaign finance laws those two parties have buried the other parties with.

  117. steve m

    The commission on presidential debates is a 501(c)(3) corporation that as such is a non-profit and to avoid paying taxes has fairly specific rules it must abide by. If it were to violate those rules it could lose its non-profit status which would mean people or corporations that donate to it could no longer write of those donations against their income.

    From the IRS

    Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.
    Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.
    On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

  118. robert capozzi

    sl: I am just wondering why we oppose the FDA, the EPA, the IRS and many other alphabet soup organizations because they prevent the Free Market from functioning, yet here we are, trying to prevent the Free Market from functioning.

    me: It’s rather simple. The CPD is not the free market. In a stateless society, there would be no CPD, since there would be no president! We don’t “buy” a president, we elect him or her. It’s an extra-market function at best that the CPD serves, and it serves only two institutions…the Rs and the Ds.

    To be clear, as a lessarchist, I personally don’t “oppose” the FDA, EPA, or IRS. I do certainly believe that health and safety could be more efficiently protected than the current FDA and EPA do, and I also believe tax revenues could far more efficiently, with much lower compliance costs.

  119. Shivany Lane

    I stand corrected. Though the CPD does have many of the trappings of a corporation it is indeed a 501(c)
    It has a board and it is funded by corporations and other donors.

    I looked at the board members and they seem diverse enough. One of them is Reverend John I. Jenkins, President, University of Notre Dame.

    It still seems like a company that the Free Market would take care of. If the Red Cross was not fulfilling it’s duties as well as say, UNICEF, then more people would donate to UNICEF. Corporations would stop backing the Red Cross and they would begin to lose their funding so they would cease to operate. Could we not do that with the CPD? Start a new debate organization 501(c) that is more inclusive and maybe even operates it’s debates in a more advanced way by taking advantage of new technologies and not limiting itself to just the 3 major networks. It could live stream as well as be on television and the radio. If we build a better platform then the old archaic one would cease to exist, or at least not be as popular. It seems to me that the CPD has a monopoly and that is what we should be arguing in the courts.

    Of course we don’t have time to pull together anything for this year, I am looking further out into the future. For this year, perhaps we can organize a boycott of the CPD debates and also a boycott of any organization who supports them or advertises with them. This has worked in the past and I believe we could make it work if we could pull together enough supporters. As a 501(c), are they not required to reveal who has donated to them? I’m just throwing out ideas here.

    We got Rush Limbaugh off of many radio stations with our organized efforts of boycotts and letters to CEOs and the stations that carry him. That is just one example of it working.

    And yes, I am not stupid. I know that everything in this country is corrupt and runs on greed and power. And I am still learning how to be a Libertarian. So many flavors there are. I am still just an apprentice so I hope that people will forgive me if I stumble.

  120. steve m

    The Way I see the Presidential Debates is that it is untaxed political advertising. Why should I have to pay taxes on the money I donate to a candidate if the other side gets to buy its advertising with before tax dollars? What ever the rules of the game is… they should apply to all parties.

  121. robert capozzi

    SL, the presidency is a monopoly position. We only have one at a time. That’s nothing like the market for radio broadcasters, where there is a multitude of what economists call “substitution goods.”

    In the market — if you want to call it that (it isn’t one) — for president, the CPD represents a regulatory “barrier to entry.” This regulatory body is made up of agents for a cartel, one that is protecting its access to this market by excluding new competition.

    Setting aside anarchoL theory, most Ls believe that government’s only useful function is to serve as referee, to maintain a rule of law, and to provide for a pure national defense.

    Personally, I’m skeptical that a precise L legal argument will be 100% satisfying. Sometimes, we should consider appealing to a general sense of fairness. Here we can pretty much resort to whatever rhetoric we want.

    It’s simply unfair that the Rs and Ds can set the rules of the game AND who gets to play the game.

  122. Shivany Lane

    That I did not know. I knew he was suing them but did not know on what grounds the lawsuit was.

    My momma didn’t raise no quitters. I am not a quitter. I do know when I am out gunned and on the wrong side of popular opinion. Rather than anger anyone else I have decided that as much as I really do enjoy politics and the debating and learning and exchange of ideas and opinions, I don’t know if there is room for someone like me in this tent.

    I have met some wonderful people here in the Libertarian party and I hope that we can remain friends, or at least acquaintances. I have been lied to as well by people I trusted. I have also had people lie about me to people I truly care about and that is the most inexcusable of all. I have always tried to live by my principles, principles that I thought this party shared. I may be back later when the hatred and anger towards our opponents reaches a more bearable and sane level. I will not have blood on my hands.

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