It would be interesting to see how many Americans know what Aleppo is, let alone where it is. I would suspect the vast majority don’t even know it is a city, let alone the fact it is in Syria and it is center of the current refugee crisis in the country. I’ll admit if someone brought up Aleppo outside of a context of discussing Syria it is quite possible I wouldn’t have immediate recognition either (especially if I haven’t had a proper amount of caffeine). It wasn’t that long ago that 30% of Republicans polled wanted the United States to bomb Agrabah, the fictional kingdom in Aladdin.
Your average voter is probably ver bad at geography. I don’t even want to think about what the average voter knows about current affairs compared to say what they know about pop culture. That would probably be a depressing venture.
Does that excuse a presidential candidate though? Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson had this uncomfortable moment on MSNBC.
.@mikebarnicle: What would you do, if you were elected, about Aleppo? @GovGaryJohnson: And what is Aleppo? https://t.co/ZbqO5RAEsk
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) September 8, 2016
Johnson’s question “What is Allepo?” was meant with disdain… “you’re kidding?”
Really? Because you stumped him on a geography question at the butt crack of dawn?
What is more important that a candidate be able to list all of the cities involved in the Syrian refugee crisis or that he has thought through a position on it? Listening to his answer once it dawned on him that this was a question about the Syrian refugee crisis it was obvious he was not clueless on the issue since he knew the players who were involved.
Whether you were satisfied with the direction he would take the United States that is a different question and that is the question voters should ponder.
All presidential candidates, in particular ones who are getting media attention, should bone up on different issues they know they will get questions on. We need to know they have a basic knowledge. I think it’s unrealistic to think that every candidate is going to be an expert on our “most pressing issue.” Oh, and it shouldn’t need to be said, but journalists aren’t experts either, even though many feign to be.
Those insinuating that Johnson is stupid because he asked “what is Aleppo?” need to lower their noses. You don’t get to be a two-term governor and you don’t build a business like he did before running for office by being stupid.
I have concerns about Gary Johnson, but this isn’t even on my radar.
Update: Johnson made the following statement about this morning’s interview.
This morning, I set aside any doubt that I’m human. Yes, I understand the dynamics of the Syrian conflict – I talk about them every day. But hit with “What about Aleppo?” I immediately was thinking about an acronym, not the Syrian conflict. I blanked. It happens, and it will happen again during the course of this campaign.
Can I name every city in Syria? No. Should I have identified Aleppo? Yes. Do I understand its significance? Yes.
As Governor, there were many things that I didn’t know off the top of my head. But I succeeded by surrounding myself with the right people, getting to the bottom of important issues, and making principled decisions. It worked. That is what a President must do.
That would begin, clearly, with daily security briefings that, to me, will be fundamental to the job of being President.
Just a note Johnson, unlike Trump and Clinton, does not receive security briefings since he is not a major party candidate.
Also want to point out that the New York Times, in its snootiness, got several facts about Aleppo wrong and they had the internet and editors to help.
So I think we can cut Governor Johnson some slack here.