Tulsi Gabbard: Enemy of the U.S., or Overlooked U.S. Asset?
As a staunch advocate for LQBTQ rights with 100% consistency over the years, my stance on Tulsi may be surprising and triggering to some. I’ve said it before: I see something different and positive in her, despite the myriad controversies many of which I believe are disproportionate to the reality. Regarding one’s perspectives on this combat veteran’s thoughts of war and what she states she would do to prevent it, for example — which includes speaking with dictators — I know several vets who feel the same. They’ve lost friends as she had, and their views are far more complex than simple black and white.
To them war was hard reality, not something thousands of miles away as safely observed on the internet, or the news. Hell, I live just around the corner from a VA, two blocks away from the local Starbucks, and I speak to everyone.
And yes, some Democrat vets I know absolutely loathe her for similar reasons. They think she’s the second coming of Trump.
Regarding Gabbard’s early and extreme anti-gay early views and actions, they were, frankly, repulsive. I would have done and said almost anything to fight her. But times change. And thoughts change too.
Tough truths, from a recent Medium article:
“Tulsi Gabbard was not out of step with the Democratic Party in 2004. She, instead, took a more aggressive stance on a belief that was already shared by the majority of Democratic politicians and constituents. (NOTE: DURING THIS PERIOD, I VOTED INDEPENDENT IN PART DUE TO THIS VERY REASON.) Today, Gabbard is an ally of the LGBT community. She has a 100% record in Congress for pro-LGBT legislation, and has co-sponsored a plethora of bills for LGBT rights. In 2011, eight years ago, she wrote of her support for same-sex marriage and her promise to repeal DOMA. In the same year, only 15 Senators openly supported gay marriage. Not only has Gabbard evolved on the issue, she has evolved before most prominent Democrats have. And these facts are being brushed aside by the current media narrative.”
If we’re going to criticize, the history needs to be correct. If I knew Tulsi Gabbard back then, she would have been the world’s most vile candidate to me. She’s not now. She wears it on her sleeve and doesn’t have a shot in hell of attaining anything over 1% favorability in terms of candidacy, so in that sense this post is a waste of effort. But I’ll speak up anyway. Frankly, David Duke and right-wing Republicans who are supporting her are playing an old game. Putin and crew apparently want her too. Don’t be distracted by all that nonsense. They’re trying to turn her. Is she anti-DNC? Big deal. Hillary was chosen over Bernie the last time around amid other questionable DNC moves.
Though to be clear I will be voting Democrat in 2020, they’re not innocent.
Do I think CNN really censored her over Elizabeth Warren during a recent debate? No. I think Tulsi’s accusation is bullshit and reflects poorly on her. My overall opinion on this candidate, though, is based on the full picture within the frame, as opposed to the frame itself. I’d be disingenuous if I did not acknowledge this candidate’s difficulties. She’s complex. But I think Hillary Clinton is out of place, and Tulsi has every right to take advantage of the publicity and fight back.
The bottom line, though, goes back to my first sentence above. Far too many of us are shutting our eyes on a strong, opinionated female candidate who’s time has not yet come but who brings something different to the table: an ability to change her mind, a certain unflappable poise, and the strength to fight for her convictions.
I respect her.
On Her Foreign Policy and Refusal to Call Syrian President Assad a “War Criminal”
For the moment, let’s consider that Tulsi represents as she says, meaning that she lives and breathes by the credo of keeping your enemies close, and your friends closer.
Tulsi Gabbard is a female combat veteran with certain anti-war views not dissimilar from many other combat vets:
“I served in a war in Iraq, a war that was launched based on lies and a war that was launched without evidence,” she said. The quote was from a CNN Town Hall, and as you see her words were met with applause from the audience.
Do I care that she accepts interviews on FOX News? I honestly don’t. She certainly by her words and actions invites controversy, but it can also be argued that she reaches across the aisle more so than her fellow candidates.
Keep your enemies close, and …
Russians apparently love her, Steve Bannon speaks highly of her, and white nationalist leaders Richard Spencer and David Duke have endorsed her. She has denounced her most ardent supporters on the far right but nonetheless, they are genrally effusive. Who is not impressed? Those of her own party. She is neither popular with voters, nor the DNC.
None of which means she is wrong. It does mean the Russians and the far-right see something in her that can be exploited, said to be her foreign policy.
Tulsi has been roundly criticized for what appears to be hypocrisy in meeting with and not denouncing Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad as a “war criminal” or “dicator,” while she railed against President Obama for not using the term “Islamic terrorist” in reference to 9–11 perpetrators.
“I will never apologize for doing all that I can to prevent more of my brothers and sisters from being sent into harm’s way, to fight counter-productive regime-change wars that make our country less safe, that take more lives, and that cost taxpayers trillions more dollars,” she said. So if that means meeting with a dictator, or meeting with an adversary, absolutely. I would do it. This is about the national security of our country.”
Further, though for two years she has tried to remain quiet on the matter, she recently shared the following exchange with Stephen Colbert:
“Do you believe he gassed his own people or committed atrocities against his own people?” he asked.
“Yes, reports have shown that’s a fact,” she responded. “Reports have shown chemical weapons attacks have been used by both the Syrian government as well as by the terrorist groups who are fighting in Syria.”
She also told CNN’s Chris Cuomo: “I don’t dispute anything that you’re saying there. He’s a brutal dictator, just like Saddam Hussein, just like Gadhafi in Libya.”
I believe armchair commentators miss the point. I do not believe she has embarked on a covert mission with Assad; I think with her what you see is exactly what you get. She “snuggled” with Assad in an effort to, in effect, prevent another regime-change war. She is doing nothing that leaders throughout history have not done.
The difference between her and Trump in this regard? He has been largely secretive in his dealings with Putin and other foreign leaders, and as it regards North Korea and Kim Jong-un … as outspoken as I am against Trump and most everything he represents, the fact is he just may have inadvertently called a dictator’s bluff by playing a game of oneupmanship.
North Korea’s threats have been muted of late. That’s not to say Kim is not plotting, but it’s not to say he is, either.
Tulsi has also been criticized for her views on Israel:
“I think there are some challenges with Israel that need to be addressed,” she said in June, 2019. “I think that ongoing issues that we continue to see in the conflict between Israel and Palestine are complicated. But there needs to be progress made to ultimately make sure that the Israeli people and the Palestinian people are able to live in peace and securely.”
“Israel needs to stop using live ammunition in its response to unarmed protesters in Gaza. It has resulted in over 50 dead and thousands seriously wounded,” she tweeted in May of 2014.
She has, however, co-sponsored a bill reaffirming U.S. support of a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Do I personally support Tulsi as my candidate? Though I believe she has potential, I cannot in good conscience support her presently.
There is some truth, I believe, that if she follows through with her threats to break from the current Democratic Party to form something new and independent, she will become our next Jill Stein. Those who will vote for her will in effect take away votes that could have been used to fight Donald Trump.
It’s not her time. But she should not be overlooked for the future.
Thank you for reading.
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