In a fun New Republic profile of former Governor Gary Johnson, the libertarian Republican getting set to make a ’12 presidential run, Ben Birnbaum captures how unabashedly impolitic Johnson can be:
Johnson seems to relish flouting the watch-your-step etiquette most politicians practice religiously. [Bill] Richardson, for example, spoke politely-even graciously-of his predecessor. “Nobody should underestimate Gary Johnson,” he told me. When Johnson talks about Richardson, by contrast, he doesn’t hide his disdain: He hones in on the ethics allegations that have plagued the current governor and reels off a lengthy list of his other qualms. After Richardson became governor, Johnson recounts, “he was teaching a course at the university, and he invited me as the guest. So I came, and somebody said, ‘What’s the biggest difference between you and Richardson?’ And I said, ‘Well, I think the difference is that I put issues first and politics last. Richardson puts politics first and issues last.’ And, actually, that was the truth. Couldn’t have been more accurate. And he was sitting there, and I don’t think he really liked it.”
That sort of bluntness could make for some interesting debate moments, particularly if Sarah Palin is in the mix; here’s what Johnson has to say about her:
“Well, at first she strikes you as folksy,” he shoots back. “And then you realize: She might be running for president of the United States! And then, don’t we have the obligation to tell her what a terrible idea that is?” Cupping his hands to his mouth, he brays, “Sarah! We love you! Don’t run!” He also performs a rendition of the “deer-in-the-headlights” interview she did on “The O’Reilly Factor,” about the BP oil spill.
“There’s a substantial minority of Republicans who don’t like [Palin],” writes Ben Smith, who posits that Johnson could win fans as the “anti-Palin.”
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