Quick: Who is is the most controversial politician in Washington these days — other than, of course, President Trump?
Think it’s Elizabeth Warren, who remains mum on her funding of a Medicare-for-all plan? Not so. Or Kamala Harris, who introduced “reproductive” politics into Tuesday’s fourth Democratic debate? Wrong again. These two women, by and large, have the support of the liberal cognoscenti and the minion press.
That distinction belongs, at least for the moment, to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, whose quixotic presidential candidacy is hanging by a thread. In myriad ways, Ms. Gabbard does not stand out from her liberal counterparts; she’s a reliable “progressive” vote, and voice, pretty much all across the political spectrum, from agriculture to women’s issues. Proof of this pudding is that her lifetime rating on issues monitored by the American Conservative Union is a paltry 8%. Thus, she is someone we, in normal times, would refrain from recognizing, much less defend. But these are not normal times.
So what has Ms. Gabbard done to earn the enmity of CNN and bring the wrath of the New York Times upon her head? In her mind, this veteran of Middle Eastern conflict sees only wrongfulness and futility to what she repeatedly calls “regime-change wars.” She bridles at the United States being expected to police the world.
For this honest position, born of experience and attentiveness to her fellow veterans, Ms. Gabbard is the Democratic candidate CNN employees, as witnessed on tape, have been told not to like. Fair arbiters of the news? Fuhgeddaboutit.
Instead, Ms. Gabbard, in what she calls “hit pieces” penned by the New York Times both before and after Tuesday’s debate, has essentially been called a “traitor,” or an “Assad apologist,” merely because she does not support American involvement in “regime-change wars” in places like Syria. (Middling odd, isn’t it, that the same type folks who condemned what was, to all intents and purposes, a “regime-change war” in Vietnam a generation or two ago now stand foursquare behind such efforts in places of questionable, even dubious, American interest?)
Anyway, Ms. Gabbard spared no one when CNN’s Anderson Cooper questioned her position Tuesday night. As a Democratic candidate, she could not exactly defend the president in a party debate, even though she stands closer to him on this issue than to her Democratic colleagues and their acolytes in the press.
“Donald Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hand,” she said, “but so do many of the politicians in our country from both parties who have supported this ongoing regime-change war in Syria that started in 2011 — along with many in the mainstream media who have been championing and cheerleading this regime-change war.”
So now Ms. Gabbard finds herself in a curious spot — defended by the likes of Fox firebrand Tucker Carlson (on whose show she appeared Wednesday night) and decrying the comments of her liberal brethren as “completely despicable.”
Unlike many of her reflexive detractors, Tulsi Gabbard knows where she’s been and, thus, knows where she lives. What’s more, she knows her critics as well and that she is not alone in their vilification.
“You know, when they are issuing these smear attacks,” she told Mr. Carlson, “really what they are doing is smearing anyone who is calling for an end to these regime-change wars, including veterans who I meet almost every single day all across this country who are not pacifists but understand and know firsthand the cost of war and who are strongly, strongly calling for our country to put an end to these counterproductive regime-change wars.
“So when they are issuing these smears and calling me a traitor to my country, they are essentially issuing these smears and attacks to every veteran who has been willing to lay their lives down in service to our country.”