On Morning Joe today, Mike Barnicle asked Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson what he would do about Aleppo. Johnson’s reply was, “What is Aleppo?”
We’re done here. Johnson should withdraw from the race, go home, and never show his face in public again.
When did running for President become a big joke? When did it become something you do on a whim, just because? The Libertarian Party is receiving more attention than usual this year since they have a superficially serious ticket, and since the two main candidates are unpopular. Turns out, though, that Johnson has managed to avoid hearing about one of the most horrible human tragedies in recent memory, not to mention one of the most pressing foreign policy questions for the next President. Serious candidate indeed.
Meanwhile, for the last several elections the Republican primary has had an extensive clown car. You see, many Republican politicians think it’s just fine to use a Presidential election to sell a book, to jack up their speaking fees, to extort money from credulous followers, or to angle for a Fox News show. That’s how you get jokers like Newt Gingrich, Ben Carson, or Mike Huckabee running for President.
Do I need to point out that there is nothing comparable to this on the Democratic side? You have to go back to Lyndon LaRouche to find such an utterly unworthy candidate. There is a reason Trump ran as a Republican, and it sure wasn’t ideological conviction.
Speaking of Trump, did you catch the “Commander in Chief” forum yesterday? Trump expressed his undying love for Vladimir Putin. What a strong leader, he says. He tells us that all we need to do to defeat ISIS is to “take the oil.” This, apparently, is simple to do. He brushed off rape in the military by saying, in effect, that boys will be boys. And he told us that Obama has consistently done the opposite of what top intelligence officials have told him to do, a fact he inferred from the body language of his CIA briefers.
Shades of the Jackson Park Express.
It’s hardly worth the trouble to rant about this, or to lament that so many voters seem unable to see through Trump’s act. Let’s move on to the press. They have picked up where they left off in the nineties, a period during which every move Hillary made was given a sinister interpretation. At the forum yesterday, moderator Matt Lauer spent ten minutes of a thirty minute interview hammering her about her e-mails. He then spent most of the remaining time cutting her off every time she tried to give an answer that was more than two sentences long. When it was Trump’s turn, Lauer mostly rolled over and had his belly rubbed.
I watched some of Brain Williams’s MSNBC show tonight. He opened by telling us that both candidates were “under fire” for their performance at the forum yesterday. It quickly became clear that Trump was under fire because everything he said was stupid and deceitful. Hillary was under fire for not smiling enough.
I mostly watch MSNBC. That’s the liberal news channel. Yet virtually every host and commentator knows that as soon as Hillary’s name comes up they are required to discuss the “ethical cloud” under which she labors and to remind us of how little the American people trust her. It’s like a tic with them. Never mind that in every case the &ldqou;scandal” is either fake, or so trivial that it would not be news for any other politician. These are the Clintons we’re talking about, meaning their slightest move gets reported with the presumption of guilt.
Let’s move over to the left now. Bernie Sanders briefly interrupted his daily routine of admiring self-regard to reprise his role as useful idiot for the right. Now he’s joining the chorus clucking about the Clinton Foundation. Remember that the “scandal” here was that certain people who donated to the Foundation, a highly successful charity let us recall, were subsequently given a few extra seconds of face time with the State Department than they might otherwise have gotten. Of course, there is not even a ghost of quid pro quo, and the examples trotted out by the press as insidious and worrying are laughable on their merits. But never mind! Having no actual impropriety to report on, it’s nice we can count on the media, and Sanders, to lecture endlessly about appearances.
Incidentally, when Colin Powell behaved in exactly the same way, it was treated as admirable by the press.
And we still have Sanders’s preening supporters to deal with. These were the geniuses who, in defiance of all recent American history, thought it was a crackerjack idea to nominate for President someone who recoils from the word “capitalism.” Jerry Coyne, for example, has been doing post after post about how awful Hillary Clinton is. He sometimes uses phrases like “mendacity and sleaze” when discussing them. In this post he seems genuinely annoyed that so many of his fellow liberals think he should tone it down a bit:
Yet still I’m told either that Hillary Clinton is pure and untouchable, without a whiff of scandal to her name, or that I should simply shut up about the rumors of scandal and appearances of conflict of interest (note that I’ve never said she’s been convicted of anything, just that she puts herself in problematic situations that could have been avoided). I’m told to keep quiet about her “forgetfulness” about her emails, about her lies about having been under “sniper fire” in Bosnia, about her huge personal emoluments from giving speeches to Wall Street, and so on.
Rumors of scandal? Appearances of conflict? This is Jerry’s bill of particulars? This is what works him into a froth?
What is wrong with him?
Trump bribed the attorney general of Florida to have an investigation dropped. He ran a fraudulent university that was specifically designed to bilk vulnerable people out of their money. He routinely screwed contractors out of their money because he knew the contractors couldn’t afford to fight him in court. In his business career he dealt so deceitfully with so many different banks that absolutely no one will lend him money any more. He refuses to release his tax returns because he knows it will show that he has been lying about his net worth and charitable giving. He routinely retweets Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. And he goes out on the trail and just makes it up as he goes along. Almost everything that comes out of his mouth is a bald-faced lie.
If rumors and appearances make Hillary guilty of “mendacity and sleaze,” then what language is left for Trump’s bill of particulars?
We sure are lucky Jerry Coyne is here to protect us from Hillary’s perfidy. What a courageous truthteller he is!
When I compare Hillary to some Platonic ideal of the perfect candidate she falls short. But when I compare her to the genuine mendacity and sleaze of the Republican leadership, the corrupt press corps bent on her destruction, and the self-righteous bloggers who offer nothing to rival her impressive record of genuine public service, she suddenly seems a good deal more impressive.
Mostly, though, I give up. The election will play out however it plays out, and regardless of who wins the country will continue to limp along pathetically as it has for two decades. Whatever.