In an earlier email exchange with Sarah, I made a shocking conspiracy claim, which I decided to post here in the hope that someone can show me how wrong I am. Noting that a friend had loved him when he was New Mexico GGovernor, Sarah asked me whether I think Gary Johnson has a prayer.

First let’s get religion out of the way. Gary Johnson’s religious views are not mentioned in his Wiki bio, although this Christian Science Monitor piece notes he was raised Lutheran but speaks little about his faith:

Johnson was married for 28 years to Denise “Dee” Simms, before he divorced her in 2005. She died in 2006. He had two children with Simms, daughter Seah and son Erik. Raised Lutheran, Johnson speaks little about his faith.

Whatever his religious views might be, he has come under attack for allegedly supporting “taxpayer funding of religious private schools through vouchers” — which is said to be “faux libertarian” as his support for gay unions but not gay marriage. Regarding the latter, his position is that government should stay out of the marriage business:

Does Johnson think there’s a constitutional right to same-sex marriage? “I don’t see it,” he says, “but I do support gay unions. I think the government should be out of the marriage business and leave marriage to the churches.”

Anyway, that’s about as close as I can come to determining Governor Johnson’s religious views, which is not very close. I cannot say whether he “has a prayer” in the literal sense.

Obviously, Sarah meant the word “prayer” in the sense of whether he has a chance of becoming president, and I just saw it as an excuse for looking into the man’s religious views here.

As I said to Sarah, though, I see the issue as not whether he has a prayer of being president, but whether he has a prayer of being heard.

Or a prayer of being known as a candidate. When I saw him speak here, I remember thinking how marvelous it would be to get the ideas he is speaking at least out into the public arena for consumption, but then I saw that there was an absolute news blackout on his visit to Ann Arbor. There was simply no local media coverage. This being a left wing town, I guess that’s understandable, but you can be damned sure that if Newt Gingrich came here to speak, there would be plenty of media on hand.

Since the Ann Arbor visit, Gary Johnson announced his candidacy and that was greeted by near zero reporting. Moreover, it appears that GOP insiders do not want him to be allowed in the debates. They might allow a few token nut minor candidates, but not one who has been a governor who has cut more spending bills than any governor in history and means what he says when he talks about taking the Constitution literally.

There is no question in my mind that not only does Gary Johnson recognize this, but unlike any other candidate I know of, he has walked the walk in terms of knowing how to deal with it. 

When he was governor, the man vetoed 750 bills for wasteful spending. At the time, that was more than the the other 49 governors in the country combined.

If there was a Guinness Book of World Records category for greatest number of bills vetoed by an American executive, he would hold it. No president — in the entire history of the United States — has vetoed more bills. (This earned him the nickname “Governor Veto.”)

So he is the real deal. A lot of politicians talk about the tough choices that need to be made and make all sort of promises, but for those who are looking for someone who can really do it, he not only can, but he already has. Who else can say that?

Yet this is not a ruthless man who loves wielding the ax for its own sake. His ability to patiently explain in detail the reasons for every cut he made is very endearing. He comes across not as a cruel Ebenezer Scrooge, but as a naturally compassionate and humane man. That he was elected and reelected in a state which is 2-1 Democrat is nothing short of amazing, and a testament to his ability to patiently explain these things to people on the other side. (In fairness, his social liberalism probably helps soften the blow too….) He comes across as mild-mannered, self-effacing, humorous, and one of the most approachable men I have yet met in politics. I walked right up to him and chatted, and there was none of the usual pomposity I associate with finger-to-the-wind poseurs hiding behind canned bombastic slogans. I told him that I was tired of holding my nose and voting for Republicans I didn’t like, and he immediately knew what I meant. I specifically asked him about one of my pet peeves, which is the federal assumption of vast powers never mentioned in the Constitution (such as Homeland Security, Department of Education, the FDA, etc.), and he said that he would simply abolish them.

And you know what? He meant it.

Little wonder if my suspicions are correct about the left and the right having mutually agreed to absolutely pull the plug on Gary Johnson.

His ideas are far more dangerous than his chances of winning the nomination, so the idea is to silence him.

Anyway, that’s my paranoid conspiracy theory for the day. So go ahead and prove me wrong. It might cheer me up.

And if I am right in my suspicions, I should point out that if Republicans insiders are sabotaging Johnson’s chances, they may be losing a major opportunity to unseat Obama. In a HuffPo column titled “The Guy That Barack Obama Should Worry About,” Brian Ross argues that if Johnson’s views ever saw the light of day, they could resonate with the voters in a manner that could be deadly to Obama:

Here’s why Barack Obama should be good and scared of this dark-horse candidate.

I was in the sports news business working out of Santa Fe, New Mexico, when Gary Johnson was the governor of the state. A rancher from the Northern part of the state, he went after the old-boy political machine run by the Spanish who have run things in New Mexico since the conquistador Don Juan de OƱate marched into the area that became Santa Fe in 1598.

As governor, Johnson was a strong fiscal conservative, and a social moderate. He had broad appeal, even amongst centrist Democrats, many of whom crossed party lines and voted for him. He was laid back. He shunned the Governor’s mansion and the entourage which were a hallmark of Bill Richardson’s tenure as governor of New Mexico. In fact, on a Sunday, more often than not you could find the Gov sitting at a table at Bagelmania in Downtown Santa Fe, reading the paper and having breakfast with his wife. He took the time to say hello, and even asked about your kids.

That belies the toughness with which he ran the ship of state in New Mexico. The legislature there only meets for a few weeks each year. Johnson routinely used his veto powers to threaten the legislature into coming to terms with tough issues when the partisanship fractured the Round House.

National political analysts still mislabel Johnson as your Dr. Paul fringe candidate…

Naturally, they want to label him fringe. Easier to sideline him that way.

Trouble is, he might not be as fringey as they want him to be.

He is hardly in the fanatic anti-war nut box. Not only is Andrew Sullivan fretting that Johnson might not be the anti-war candidate he is so often taken to be, but Justin Raimondo slams Johnson for endorsing humanitarian war and for being unacceptably pro-Israel. 

And there’s this paleocon post:

Johnson has previously opened the door to launching a war of choice in which no American interest is at stake, and he has done so by making a misguided and absurd claim that this is “what we have always been about,” which isn’t significantly different from the insipid notion that the U.S. has to meddle in other nations’ internal affairs because “America is different.”

Well, America is different. At least in theory. Sometimes America is a force for right even when almost all the other countries want to go along with what isn’t right. I don’t think that’s misguided and absurd, and I am glad to see evidence that Gary Johnson doesn’t either. 

Nor did Winston Churchill:

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing–after they’ve tried everything else.

If Johnson is fringe, he might be just the fringe the country needs right now.

Prayer or not.

MORE: Neither Glenn Reynolds nor Reason are ignoring Gary Johnson. Reason’s Brian Doherty looks at the various reactions to Johnson, and notes a tendency to “obscure politicians who seem too good to be true.”

Hmmm… I guess any candidate who seems too good to be true would almost have to be considered fringe these days.

And speaking of fringe, what if Glenn is right about this?

…when you have a system of government so demanding at top levels that few normal people care to participate in it, you will get few normal people at the top levels.

Is normal the new fringe?

I have to say that when I met Gary Johnson, he struck me as shockingly normal. (But who am I to judge such things?)