Everyone agrees that Gary Johnson, who is pretending to be an actual candidate for the presidency under the banner of the Libertarian Party, humiliated himself this morning by not knowing what “Aleppo” was. The New York Times immediately read his embarrassing gaffe into the record. It wrote:
“What is Aleppo?” Mr. Johnson said when asked on MSNBC how, as president, he would address the refugee crisis in the Syrian city that is the de facto capital of the Islamic State.
“What is Aleppo?” Mr. Johnson said when asked on MSNBC how, as president, he would address the refugee crisis in the Syrian city that is a stronghold of the Islamic State.
Aleppo is also not a stronghold of the Islamic State. Here is a concise account of the state of the politics of the fighting in Aleppo:
In Aleppo, the forces fighting the government range from groups with American backing to factions that until recently were officially affiliated with Al Qaeda. The Islamic State is not a player in the city.
That is from a story on the Times’ website today, written by Anne Barnard, who has been steadily covering the horrors of Aleppo for the newspaper. It is about a chlorine gas attack against civilians in the city yesterday, probably perpetrated by the government. The chemical weapons sickened some 120 people and killed two, including a 13-year-old girl.
If you follow Barnard’s Twitter account, you wake up every morning to a fresh roundup of war crimes and other atrocities being perpetrated across Syria, in unending violence that has made a mockery of every pretense of international order or human rights doctrine. What is happening in Syria is a stain on civilization.
And, clearly, it’s too much for the New York Times campaign desk to keep up with. The Times writes about a dire and ongoing failure of foreign policy, and the people who are covering presidential politics for the Times don’t read it. Mistaking Aleppo for the Islamic State capital is a particularly glib and reductive error to make, suggesting an inability to conceive of the multi-sided debacle in Syria as anything beyond terrorist villainy.
Finally, on the third try, somebody straightened it out:
“What is Aleppo?” Mr. Johnson said when asked on MSNBC how, as president, he would address the refugee crisis in the war-torn Syrian city.
What a dummy, that Gary Johnson! How can you consider yourself seriously involved in politics if you don’t even know what Aleppo is?
Here’s a Google Trends graph for “Aleppo” in the past week:
That line stayed flat through yesterday’s chlorine gas attack. The only thing that got people to care about Aleppo was the chance to make fun of someone for accidentally admitting that he didn’t care about Aleppo.