Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii (public domain image)

Hillary Clinton and Tulsi Gabbard

Misleading coverage of Tulsi reached a recent high thanks to an unfounded public accusation by Hillary Clinton that Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein are Russian assets.

Background

This was not the first episode of friction between Hillary Clinton and Tulsi Gabbard. In 2016, Tulsi Gabbard became the fourth sitting member of Congress to endorse Bernie Sanders. She did so at the end of February, citing Clinton’s hawkishness and accusing the DNC of trying to stack the deck against Bernie Sanders.

Jill Stein, Russia, and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss.

Green party banner 2016, from here.

The DNC, Russia, & Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss

Public awareness that that the DNC had tried unfairly to stack the deck in Hillary Clinton’s favor during the primaries was another factor that was likely sufficient to explain Hillary Clinton’s narrow loss in the general election. Tulsi was one of the early public figures speaking out against this unfairness.

Investigation of Tulsi Gabbard

As with Jill Stein, there’s a distinct lack of real evidence that Tulsi Gabbard is a foreign agent or cooperating with such. One item I’ve seen offered as conclusive “proof,” for example: Gabbard once hired a publicist working in the D.C. area, who was one of several hired to promote a pro-Russian documentary… a second-degree connection that is not meaningful once we parse out the fact that we have little to no reason to believe the publicist himself is a Russian agent, simply a professional who happened to be hired by one once in a long record with a variety of employers and clients.

House Armed Services Committee, 2015. Tulsi Gabbard in red. Photo from here.

Tulsi Gabbard’s motives

One of the missing pieces of the Hillary Clinton’s accusation is motive. Tulsi Gabbard has explicitly said that she will not run as a third-party candidate. Doing so would most likely guarantee a loss, both as a presidential candidate and as a candidate for re-election to the House of Representatives.

Hillary Clinton’s motives

Tulsi Gabbard’s role in the 2016 election gives Hillary Clinton a reason to dislike Tulsi Gabbard. Hillary Clinton has well-placed connections in many blue media outlets. These connections give her the means to conduct a national smear campaign against Gabbard. Gabbard’s presidential bid is a perfect chance to do so on the national stage.

Kamala Harris and earlier insinuations

Kamala Harris in 2014 as attorney general of California. Cropped from source.

The basic facts of Tulsi

Tulsi Gabbard in 2013 as a rookie congresswoman that almost no mainlanders had heard of. I certainly hadn’t. (Public domain image.)

Social issues

The grain of truth behind the accusation of homophobia is that she was opposed to recognition of civil unions early in her political career, but has — like many other Democratic politicians — changed her position on the issue over time. Her record on GSM issues since her election to Congress has been consistently strongly liberal, as expected from a Democrat representing Hawaii. She’s also thoroughly admitted and explained her movement on the issue. (See this archived 2012 article.)

Foreign policy

I frequently have heard that Tulsi Gabbard is an “Assadist.” Misleadingly, this could be read as an expression that she is interested in actively propping up Assad in much the same way that previous administrations have offered military aid to various dictators. The grain of truth is that she has been consistently opposed to US involvement in the Syrian civil war; but has also publicly called Assad a brutal dictator, directly comparing him to Saddam Hussein.

Troops from New England fighting in 1745 in a British war that started over European succession issues. Image source.

A Democrat, not a Republican in all but name

Like most modern Congressional Democrats, Tulsi Gabbard’s record is very firmly Democratic; she cannot be mistaken for a Republican in objective terms, and trying to paint her as one is deeply misguided.

The other candidates’ responses and cancellation contagion

Because of either some combination of the above factors, personal acquaintance with Tulsi Gabbard, a calculated political decision not to attack other candidates, or the simple realization that the congresswoman from Hawaii is likely to continue in her office, most of the other presidential candidates have chosen to either defend Tulsi Gabbard against the charge of being a Russian asset or remain silent.

Disclaimer and recommendations

I have no association with Tulsi Gabbard or Hillary Clinton whatsoever. Tulsi Gabbard is currently my eighth or ninth favorite Democratic presidential candidate out of a field of approximately eighteen major candidates.

Dr. Tomas McIntee is a mathematician and occasional social scientist with stray degrees in physics and philosophy.

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