The Chicago Tribune is clearly unconcerned that Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson didn’t know what Aleppo is, couldn’t identify a single foreign leader for Chris Matthews and was clueless about the identity of Harriet Tubman.
It’s endorsed him for president. It’s either journalism courage and candor or, perhaps, its own Aleppo moment.
A day after USA Today “disendorsed” Donald Trump, a longtime bastion of Midwest conservatism rebuked both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and went with Johnson as the most qualified to be president.
“We would rather recommend a principled candidate for president — regardless of his or her prospects for victory — than suggest that voters cast ballots for such disappointing major-party candidates,” it writes in an editorial that some critics will surely see as less a matter of honor than an abdication of making the real choice at hand.
“With that demand for a principled president paramount, we turn to the candidate we can recommend. One party has two moderate Republicans — veteran governors who successfully led Democratic states — atop its ticket.”
“”Most people are Libertarian,'” Johnson told the Tribune Editorial Board when he and Weld met with us in July. “It’s just that they don’t know it.”
Most people probably do know, however, the long-woeful but now revived Cubs have a better chance of winning the World Series than its largest hometown paper of endorsing any Democrat.
Its backing of a Democrat, hometown candidate Barack Obama in 2008, was a first for the paper. It endorsed him again, for re-election, in 2012. But he was the local guy and the support was an unavoidable anomaly.
It now reverts back to ideological form by heading rightward and giving Johnson’s flagging campaign a mini-boost in an age when newspaper endorsements’ have minimal impact.
“What we’re recommending will appeal less to people who think tactically than to conscientious Americans so infuriated that they want to send a message about the failings of the major parties and their candidates.”
As for Trump, it says he’s unfit for the job. “The mystery and shame of Trump’s rise — we have red, white and blue coffee mugs that are more genuinely Republican — is the party’s inability or unwillingness to repulse his hostile takeover.”
When it come to Clinton, it rationale is somewhat circuitous.
It openly concedes that, compared to Trump, she is “undeniably capable of leading the United States.”
“Electing her the first woman president would break a barrier that has no reason to be. We see no rough equivalence between Trump and Clinton. Any American who lists their respective shortcomings should be more apoplectic about the litany under his name than the one under hers. He couldn’t do this job. She could.”
So what’s the problem? Here, the paper’s generally bedrock aversion to big government and taxation is a primary impediment.
It cites “her intent to greatly increase federal spending and taxation, and serious questions about honesty and trust” for its refusal to back her.
It’s clearly enthused about Johnson, however.
“Every American who casts a vote for him is standing for principles — and can be proud of that vote. Yes, proud of a candidate in 2016.”
The Tribune’s own building is famous for about 150 pieces of stone embedded in the façade. They are from all over the world, including Westminster Abbey, The Parthenon, The Great Wall of China, The Great Pyramid at Giza, The Colosseum in Rome, The Kremlin, the Sydney Opera House and The Taj Mahal.
If Johnson were elected, an obviously needed education on world leaders might include checking out the building and trying to link those famous sites with current presidents, kings or prime ministers.