Gary Johnson: “I’m an Idiot”

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson briefly spoke to Guardian reporter Paul Lewis just after he participated in an interview with HBO's Vice News and, well, this happened:

"I could hear some loud voices just then," Lewis joked. "Is it the same questions? You get the same questions again and again and again?

"I'm an idiot," Johnson responded. "Really. I'm the dumbest guy that you've ever met in your whole life."

"I'm trying to work out if that's sarcasm or not," Lewis replied.

"It is," Johnson said. "I hope it's sarcasm." [...]

"Why are you even interviewing me? I don't get it," Johnson fired back. "If I'm doing so poorly, is this to preside over a funeral here? It's not a funeral, it's a celebration."

I don't think there's anything I can add to this. It's already perfect.

The "same question" Johnson was apparently asked was about Aleppo. Johnson kicked off his moronathan tour last month during an appearance on Morning Joe when he asked "what is Aleppo?"

  • Eric Antonissen

    Self deprecating sarcasm folks. Nothing more substantial than that. He is clearly getting frustrated with some of the inane repeated questions from reporters much the same as I am tired of the Aleppo reference. He apologized, took responsibility, said he should have known. During the same interview he clearly understood what was going on in Syria and outlined his take on the situation. That part of the clip somehow never gets watched. Trump did not know what the nuclear triad was and apparently Hillary did not know what the little “c” meant in official government communications. Or worse, she tried to dupe us into thinking that she did not know. So we have a guy with a proven government and business track record who doesn’t do pop quizzes well, a bombastic rich man-kid who would be king, and a superficially wonky, deceitful, dare I say corrupt, and poor decision making former Secretary of State…. I’m thinking it seems inane to require a President to know everything but I do want that person to have good intuition and judgment.

    • ninjaf

      Superficially wonky? Puh-lease! Everyone has described her as prepared for every meeting they have had with her, and used it to both praise and cudgel her. At least give her the courtesy of being honest about her ability to soak up information.

      No one is saying everyone needs to know EVERYTHING to be president. Every interview I have seen of Gary Johnson has some cringe-worthy moment in it, starting with the first time I saw him on Bill Maher. Not all of the moments reach the level of the Aleppo gaff (how about his comment that we don’t need to worry about global warming because the planet will collide with the sun in a billion years, anyway?) but he has proven to me with his own behavior that he is not prepared to run this country. Before we even get into his adherence to the dogma of Trickle Down Economics and unregulated capitalism.

      • Eric Antonissen

        I completely concur that she has the reputation of being well prepared and has the ability to soak up information. And I don’t dispute that point. She has demonstrated, during the debates for example, to recall information usually correctly in that high pressure environment. Also, her ability to deliver rehearsed quips/lines such as her self-comparison with Lincoln on having a public and private position on banking issues is also impressive, if not a bit wooden. She has a sharp mind for recall, no argument. But, and this is a big but, I do not equate rote memorization skills with synthesis skills. This is what I mean when I wrote superficially wonky. I have seen her type of person too much in the work place and elsewhere. They seem to have a command of the “facts” but no real understanding of the reality and moreover, no real understanding of what to do next. It is like a chess player that knows how each individual piece moves on the board and knows where each piece has been but has little to no idea how to formulate a winning strategy from that point forward. Or as another example, it is like a student trying to write their thesis and looking at all their data and not being able to see the patterns and what they all mean. Or more colloquially, not being able to see the forest for the trees.

        To your point about Johnson’s interview skills, I would have to also concur in that he does not cut an impressive figure or commanding presence. He lacks that “star” quality but frankly, its overrated. As far as Lincolnesque comparisons go, Lincoln also lacked “star” quality as a candidate. If the Aleppo gaffe is the high point of Johnson’s folly he is head and shoulders above the rest. There is no question that he blew that pop quiz and, to his credit, he owned it. What is more important, however, was not the answer to the pop quiz that someone with excellent rote memorization skills would nail, but rather what his overall view was on the situation in Syria and what the US should be doing. He answered that harder question well. Of course, that doesn’t rate a sensational headline or airtime so the public is left with an unfair characterization of the man.

        I cannot speak with any authority about his specific answer on the global warming statement. I know that the current du jour thinking is that man made induced climate change, particularly temperature rise and sea level rise, is largely man-made. I also know that the last comment “largely man made” particularly the “largely” part is hard to validate despite the IPCC concensus. I say this with some understanding of the challenges because I hold a doctorate in physical oceanography. In any event, the US has been curbing emissions at a rapid rate, emerging economies like India and China currently lead the world in new solar power generation. Not because it is mandated by the government but because it is the most cost effective and fastest way to get power generating capacity up and running. The coal industry has been dying a natural market death.

        Regarding Trickle Down Economics, this is not the Libertarian view. Their concept is a national sales tax with a prebate for lower income families. The concept is that people with more money tend to spend more buying things and thus would tend to pay more taxes than people who have less. So the upshot is, in principle, the rich would get taxed more on average than people of lesser means. So it is not regressive on its face particularly because of the pre-bate for low income earners. This is not traditional trickle down where the upper income tax rates are cut in the hope that it will spur more investment and jobs – does not work well as we see in Kansas and Louisiana especially when compared with California. In any event, while this is the Libertarian ideal, this is not a reality that will come in to being in a Johnson Administration as he indicated because it would never pass the Congress given the various lobbyist groups and the lack of term limits. Instead, I would expect prudence in government expenditure in a Johnson/Weld administration just as they acted as governors.

        Regarding unregulated capitalism, I am not sure what you mean here. I think that is a misrepresentation of his position. He supports the role of the EPA for example.

        Don’t get me wrong, I don’t support all of his positions by any means. Perhaps the most important concerns for me are in the area of foreign affairs, fiscal discipline although I do support infrastructure expenditures, simplification and fairness in the tax code, and healthcare reform, sensible drug law reform, and equal rights. I don’t trust Hillary or Trump in the areas of foreign affairs, fiscal discipline, tax code reform, and drug law reform – specifically marijuana use (no, I don’t use it). Obamacare is too much of a Rube Goldberg device to fix and is in a death spiral. Just so you know, I was a big initial supporter of Obama’s plan but he caved too much in the legislation process and I saw its demise coming. Very sad. When it was signed into law it was not worth the paper it was printed on as far as its long term viability goes. Either we should have went with Bernie’s universal single payer or we need to go the other way with full disclosure of price and quality as suggested by Johnson. We need to get the incentives of patients, providers, and insurers aligned.

  • waspuppet

    “I’m an idiot. Really. I’m the dumbest guy that you’ve ever met in your whole life.”

    Yeah; you’re up there. Not because you don’t know what’s going on in Aleppo — I barely do either. But because you think you can be president without knowing it. THAT’s dumb.

  • Aynwrong

    Donald Trump isn’t the only one humiliating America in front of the entire planet. I want this election over.

  • muselet

    Gary Johnson insisted he’s “not a dummy,” then went on to demonstrate that he’s a dummy.

    An almost-perfect own goal. Well done, Mr Johnson.


  • Georgie

    Well, no words for Mr Johnson,I’m sure this is him later today:

  • Draxiar

    His donors must be so proud of their wise and careful decision.

    • Christopher Foxx

      They are. That’s the tragedy.