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Gabbard Derangement Syndrome

Summary:
Tulsi Gabbard, the Democratic Congresswoman from Hawaii and, since February, Democratic presidential candidate, is highly unlikely to win the Democratic nomination. She has been polling in single digits, well behind the trio of frontrunners: former US vice-president Joe Biden, and senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Yet the Democratic establishment and its media cheerleaders seem to have become fixated on her. She annoys them. She riles them. And it’s not just because of her ambivalence towards identity politics and the other aspects of her Sanders-style progressivism – indeed, she endorsed Sanders in 2016, much to the chagrin of the Democratic establishment at the time. No, it’s also because of her uncompromising

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Tulsi Gabbard, the Democratic Congresswoman from Hawaii and, since February, Democratic presidential candidate, is highly unlikely to win the Democratic nomination. She has been polling in single digits, well behind the trio of frontrunners: former US vice-president Joe Biden, and senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Yet the Democratic establishment and its media cheerleaders seem to have become fixated on her. She annoys them. She riles them. And it’s not just because of her ambivalence towards identity politics and the other aspects of her Sanders-style progressivism – indeed, she endorsed Sanders in 2016, much to the chagrin of the Democratic establishment at the time. No, it’s also because of her uncompromising opposition to the ‘counterproductive regime-change wars’ pursued with such ignorant zeal by the likes of Democratic grandee Hillary Clinton. It’s because of her willingness to question the narratives that have justified Western intervention in Syria, including a secret fact-finding mission to Damascus, and a meeting with Bashar al-Assad in 2017. And it’s because she does all this not as a woolly pacifist, but as a war vet.

So where her small but growing band of supporters see a principled 38-year-old, armed with a progressive policy platform, and, above all, a strong commitment to anti-interventionism, her powerful opponents are determined to present her as something altogether more sinister. They talk of her being a poster girl for white supremacists and the alt-right, of her being a Republican stooge in Democratic clothing, and of her being some sort of Russian asset.

It’s genuinely crazy stuff. Last week, the New York Times even laid into her for wearing a white pantsuit for a TV debate, claiming it was somehow cult-like. But that is as nothing compared to the constant innuendo and sometimes outright claims that Gabbard is being backed by Russia and Putin, the seeming power behind all world disorder.

We’ve seen the LA Times and Politico note darkly that Gabbard is a favourite of Russian propaganda machines. And the NYT has reported that Gabbard is seen as ‘a potentially useful vector for Russian efforts to sow division within the Democratic Party’.

Then, of course, there’s Hillary Clinton herself, a woman who, since losing to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, is no longer able to go near a bed without spotting reds under it. Gabbard, unsurprisingly, does not escape Clinton’s conspiracist gaze. ‘I’m not making any predictions but I think [the Russians have] got their eye on somebody who’s currently in the Democratic primary, and they’re grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She’s the favorite of the Russians’, Clinton continued. ‘They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.’

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