Tulsi Gabbard ran for president in 2020 as a Democrat. Which makes what she has been saying and doing of late all the more odd.
1) Just as Russia was invading Ukraine last week, Gabbard sent out this decidedly pro-Russia tweet: “This war and suffering could have easily been avoided if Biden Admin/NATO had simply acknowledged Russia’s legitimate security concerns regarding Ukraine’s becoming a member of NATO, which would mean US/NATO forces right on Russia’s border.”
2) Over the weekend, Gabbard spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference – not exactly friendly ground for most Democrats. “They’re hypocrites,” Gabbard said of the leaders of her party in the speech. “They proclaim that we must go to war to spread democracy and freedom while they actively work to undermine our democratic republic and our freedoms right here at home.”
You’ll remember that in 2019, Hillary Clinton said this of Gabbard: “I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She’s the favorite of the Russians.”
Gabbard sued Clinton for defamation in 2020; she dropped the suit later that year. “While they remain certain of the action’s legal merit, they are just as certain that this new COVID and post-COVID world require them to focus their time and attention on other priorities, including defeating Donald Trump in 2020, rather than righting the wrongs here,” her lawyers said of the move.
Now, to be clear, neither of Gabbard’s recent actions mean that Gabbard is (or was) some sort of Russian plant. But, they do raise questions as to what Gabbard’s real motives are toward Russia – and more generally in American foreign policy and politics.
Those questions have been asked ever since Gabbard launched a long-shot bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. In October 2019, The New York Times ran a piece headlined: “What, Exactly, Is Tulsi Gabbard Up To?,” that noted:
“On podcasts and online videos, in interviews and Twitter feeds, alt-right internet stars, white nationalists, libertarian activists and some of the biggest boosters of Mr. Trump heap praise on Ms. Gabbard.”
Gabbard has been a regular guest on Tucker Carlson’s Fox show of late, raising questions as to why Ukraine should join NATO and why the US would support that.
“I have a hard time seeing how President Biden or anyone can say with an honest face, ‘we are defending democracy,’” Gabbard told Carlson in early February.
Gabbard has also suggested that President Joe Biden needs to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Putin has said for years his security concerns are about NATO increasingly approaching and surrounding Russia on all sides,” Gabbard said in an interview with the New York Post after her CPAC speech. “The Biden administration has failed to outline for the American people how does this serve your best interests? What will the costs be?”
It’s not clear what Gabbard’s end game is here. If she wants to run for office again as a Democrat, her recent decisions make very little sense. In the wake of her decision to speak at CPAC, local Democrats voted to condemn her. And given the strong Democratic leanings of Hawaii generally, there’s very little chance of an electoral future in the state for a candidate who positions herself as Gabbard has.
Maybe she’s angling for a Fox News gig. Or maybe a party switch is in her near future?