When asked about the Syrian city of Aleppo in an interview on MSNBC last night, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson responded with a very stupid, “what is Aleppo?”
Aleppo is a city facing a refugee crisis after being ripped apart during the Syrian Civil War, and anyone running for president should already know that. As the New York Times noted, this was very reminiscent of an incident at a June convention, when Johnson asked another scintillating question when ushered into a room named after Harriet Tubman: “Who’s Harriet Tubman?”
(Quick digression: As Tom Scocca pointed out, the Times also has no idea what Aleppo is, having called it “the de facto capital of the Islamic state,” “a stronghold of the Islamic state,” and “the Syrian capital” in earlier versions of the story, all of which are incorrect.)
It would be worrisome that Johnson didn’t know about Aleppo, or Harriet Tubman, but only if he were a serious candidate. He’s not, and that opinion has nothing to do with the fact that he won’t get enough votes take a single electoral votes. That opinion has everything to do with some of his other beliefs and political desires, which can be found without looking very hard. Such as:
—Improving the economy by eliminating corporate taxes.
—No federal funding of stem cell research.
—Private prisons are good.
—School vouchers are the way to go, and the Dept. of Education should be abolished.
—The government shouldn’t bother trying to fix climate change.
—At the same time, fracking is great if the government regulates it.
—Wants to cut 43 percent from the federal budget, which is hilarious and impossible.
—People carrying guns reduces crime and mass shootings.
—Health insurance should be entirely free market.
—Voted against raising the minimum wage to $5.65 (!!) in 1999.
—Looks to Ayn Rand for his governmental philosophy, actually gave his fiancee Atlas Shrugged to explain his beliefs.
—Wants to raise the retirement age to 75.
—Wants to privatize at least a portion of social security.
—Wanted to ban burqas before retracting his position.
—Raised the debt as governor of New Mexico, now insists that he’ll end the national debt.
Look, not everything the guy says is batshit, and he’s certainly no worse than Donald Trump. But when you look at the sum total of his beliefs, and the beliefs of Libertarians in general, you see a solid reason why they can’t crack 10 percent nationally, and hopefully never will. (Though, to be honest, Johnson is more like a Republican pretending to be a Libertarian, and the purists kinda hate him). It’s fine to make a big deal about Aleppo, because it does prove that Johnson is an uninformed crackpot who shouldn’t even be allowed to Google the White House. But when it comes to his overall incompetence, Aleppo is just the tip of the iceberg.