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Thursday, September 08, 2016

What is Aleppo?

Gary Johnson is getting flak from the media today for not being able to answer a reporter's question, "What would you do about Aleppo"?

I can't see this harming him.

First, most Americans could not have answered that question. Frankly, I could not. Yes, I know where Aleppo is, but what am I supposed to do about it? It was a deliberate "gotcha" question. If the reporter were being honest, he would have asked "what would you do about the Syrian refugee crisis"?

It being a gotcha question, it says nothing about Johnson's fitness for office. Moreover, since most Americans would not know what the significance of "Aleppo" here was, they are not likely to hold it against Johnson. Instead, his not knowing humanizes him, makes him look like a regular guy. That's a plus, not a minus.

Besides, the question being despicable, I think Johnson gets some sympathy out of it. After all,  anyone a dishonest press does not like can't be all bad.

Finally, Johnson trails badly on grounds of name recognition and press coverage. Really, given his qualifications and that of his running mate, and the general dissatisfaction with the two leading candidates, he should be doing much better in the polls than he is. In this situation,  for him, almost any sort of publicity is good publicity. That the press shows it cares so much about him is sure to boost his status.

Better than that, Johnson did not try to fudge his way out of not knowing. The typical politician's response would have been to try to give the false impression that he understood the reference. He might have said "In what regard, Ed?" or, "Certainly not what the present administration has been doing." Either of which would sound good regardless of what Aleppo happened to mean.

Instead, Johnson apparently did not even consider this kind of dodge. Instead, he immediately, and sincerely, asked "What is Aleppo?" I think this gives him huge credibility, as someone who is talking straight instead of trying to put things over on the folks, in a year when that seems to matter more than usual.

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