Gary Johnson (And His Neighbor's Dogs) Might be Having a Moment


Even before former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson's "shovel-ready work" (or lack thereof from Obama) quip, a handful of media was still paying attention to his presidential campaign. They're paying a bit more now, mostly thanks to the vital question of whether Johnson lifted the joke from Rush Limbaugh or not. (Slate's Dave Weigel, of course, was already paying attention.)

CBS News dubbed the joke one of the wins from the Fox News/Google debate. Johnson himself, however, was the only candidate not personally relevant enough to be included in the night's winners or losers column.

Count GQ for inclusion in the Gary, we remembered you were still running before you made a dog poop/Obama economics joke column. They did a nice write-up of Johnson for their November issue. The author, Lisa DePaulo pulls off a non-slobbering political profile, (Esquire, take note) that also avoids condescension, in spite of the focus being mostly on the moments where Johnson and his tiny entourages have their credit cards declined and the numerous times Johnson is not recognized in hotel rooms and at a bike shop. The latter, however, might be where the most athletically legit presidential candidate in recent memory should be campaigning:

The guys send Gary downstairs to have his seat adjusted. Five minutes later, they follow him down the steps.

"You climbed Mount Everest?" Turns out they've been doing a little Googling.

"I did." He's very Zen about this. "Cool. And you smoked pot?"

"I did," says Gary.

He's fiddling with the bike. But they want to know more about Mount Everest. And how he plans to fix the economy. And handle the deficit. "This is what I love about New Hampshire," says Gary, and happily outlines his main—and most radical—position: to slash the federal budget by 43 percent. That's the number it would take to erase the deficit right now. This can be done, he says. Ya think? And he'd do it by, among other things, eliminating the Department of Education (he says he'd give all those billions to the states, minus 43 percent, and let them decide what's best, because "this whole idea that Washington knows best? That's why we're bankrupt"); bringing our troops home, particularly from all peaceful countries (he's thinks it's absurd that we have tens of thousands of troops in Europe); and "rebooting" the federal tax code with a "fair tax" that would abolish the entire IRS ("Imagine that!") and would tax consumption, not income, "because it's, well, fair."

Now the bike-store guys want to know whether he thinks he can beat Obama. "My contest is in the primary," he tells them.

"That sucks," says one of the guys.

"Yes, it does. But life's a journey."

He squeezes the tires. "Looks good." Then he lifts the bike and carries it up the steps. He is halfway out the door to the parking lot when suddenly he stops and turns around. "Listen," he says, "I only mentioned that president thing so you wouldn't think I'd steal your bike." Brinck and Matt simultaneously roll their eyes. He's apologizing for mentioning "that president thing"?!

"It's okay, man. You got our vote."

Read the rest here. 

Outside Online has a similar profile of Johnson, which points to the man's political credibility (he was a popular governor, after all), asks why he's getting no attention, and then probably answers the question with quotes like this:

It's the substance of his ideas that matters, he insists, not the style. I asked him if he'd ever considered getting a media coach. "No," he said. "Then people wouldn't be seeing me. They'd be seeing someone else's idea of me."

A familiar name also opined on Johnson in the same article:

"Gary represents the future that we want to live in," says Nick Gillespie, the editor of the libertarian magazine Reason, "which is a world where all sorts of interesting mixing is going on, and where people are left alone to live their lives as they see fit."

Both profiles read like Johnson himself comes across; puzzled that an experienced, government-trimming candidate with no scandals or obvious gaffes to his name is not getting any serious attention, but not nearly political or self-aggrandizing enough to turn martyr over it.

Reason on Gary Johnson, including Mike Riggs' look at the former governor's New Hampshire plans.