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Goodbye Gabbard

The Democratic establishment is deriving some delusionary cheer from it. The line of candidates for the presidential nomination has thinned, many falling out and proceeding, suicidally, to endorse former Vice President Joe Biden.

The case of Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard is particularly telling. At points, she has spoken with sober detachment on the US imperium. Herself an Iraq War veteran, she preferred to eschew military intervention and regime change tools of foreign policy. The US record on that matter is lengthy, ignominious and bloody. Peter Harris, writing in The National Interest, suggested the ideas of a realist at play, at least in a fashion; “that the United States must sometimes tolerate the existence of brutal foreign governments, especially if they share a common interest in fighting the same terrorist groups as America.”

Such mild and calculating cynicism did not go down well in certain Democratic quarters. Gabbard was accused of being a Russian asset by the perennially loathing Hillary Clinton. Her politics on the US imperium, questioning of its international engagements, notably in Syria, struck Clinton as odd, even to the point of being mildly treasonous. The remarks from Clinton on the “Campaign HQ” podcast are worth quoting in full: “She’s the favourite of the Russians, they have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far, and that’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not, because she’s also a Russian asset. Yeah, she’s a Russian asset, I mean totally. They know they can’t win without a third-party candidate.”

This posturing libel by Clinton had a disruptive effect. Gabbard might have laughed them off as the mad bile of the defeated, but she took it seriously enough to take to the courts. In January, Gabbard initiated defamation proceedings, claiming that Clinton lied “publicly, unambiguously, and with obvious malicious intent.” The complaint makes accurate reading, at least when it comes to portrayals of Clinton, she with “a stranglehold over the Democratic party.”

Gabbard, like Bernie Sanders, has also had her issues with the dark machinery of the Democratic National Committee. In September 2019, she made her sentiments clear. “There’s just been a lack of transparency … lack of transparency means lack of trust in the process and that they’re trying to take the power away from votes to actually be the ones to decide who continues to move forward in this campaign.”

One point at issue was the restrictions placed by the DNC on who should qualify for candidate debates, using individual donors and polling averages as criteria. It was a decision taken without explanation and, as tends to be the nature of DNC machinations, behind closed doors. The DNC also preferred to adopt polls – again, without explanation – that tended to disfavour Gabbard, despite her meeting the donation threshold. Despite the muck levelled at her, she managed two delegates on Super Tuesday. True to form, the DNC again showed its colours by tinkering with the donor prerequisite to give former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg a chance. The establishment cheer squad was clear flexing some muscle.

Gabbard’s remarks on that particular bit of manipulation were hard to impeach. “The fact that a billionaire can come in and have that kind of influence to change rules of the DNC – all of a sudden, not coincidentally, to be able to benefit Michael Bloomberg … They are picking winners and losers before voters have the opportunity to do so.”

With the party machinery marshalled against her, Gabbard’s chances were always small. She also proved a bit too individual for her party colleagues, preferring to vote “present” when it came to the two articles of impeachment drafted against President Donald Trump. It was a heresy that brought out the pitchforks. “Look, I did not take the easy vote,” Gabbard reflected. “I took the vote that I felt was in the best interest of our country and standing in the centre to be able to bring the country together, to be able to begin this reconciliation that I think is so necessary in this terribly divided moment in our country.”

Last week, Gabbard’s will had crumbled. Rather than being proudly defiant, she showed that she was a lady for turning. Hatchets would be buried and differences set aside. After Tuesday’s election, it is clear that Democratic Primary voters have chosen Vice President Joe Biden to be the person who will take on President Trump in the general election.”

The statement is rich with presumption, though might sadly prove to be the case, given the Democratic tendency to self-immolation. “Although I may not agree with the vice president on every issue, I know that he has a good heart, and he’s motivated by his love for our country and the American people.” Her skills on spotting that heart must be other-worldly in nature. “I’m confident that he will lead our country, guided by the spirit of aloha respect and compassion, and thus help heal the divisiveness that has been tearing our country apart.” A misplaced confidence, if ever there was one.

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  1. calculus witherspoon.

    Gone Tulsi…gone.

    Interesting that Clinton would rubbish an ex service person on issues military.

  2. RomeoCharlie29

    The DNC is a poisonous organisation. Their actions to squash Bernie and boost Biden are shameful. If Biden is the candidate we should see his eventual election over Trump, whose case for re-election must surely have been impaired by his idiotic response to Covid19 – it will all be over by Easter which is a great day (sic). However if Biden does succeed it might be the first time a President with obvious signs of Dementia has been elected. In that case I hope his running mate is a sensible woman. Tulsi perhaps, or Warren?

  3. ajogrady

    RomeoCharliew9: Do not be surprised if Biden’s selection of vice president running partner as he said would be a woman and that woman would be Hilary Clinton. She will takeover the position of President when Biden’s health deteriorates.

  4. Michael Taylor

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Kamala Harris. I think it’d be a popular choice, but it’s just a hunch.

  5. ajogrady

    Michael. If popularity was the bench mark Bernie Sanders would be the contender for the Democrats. A very large proportion of Americans do not vote because they feel that neither party represents them. These are Bernie’s people. I think that Bernie Sanders should stand as a independant and split the vote between Biden, Trump and himself. My hunch is that Sanders would win a three way election.

  6. Matters Not

    ajogrady, you might want to investigate what is sometimes called the Nader Effect.

    Memories of Ralph Nader’s 2000 Green candidacy are never too far away for older Democratic voters, but apparently this is not true for legions of youthful Sanders supporters, some of whom were in diapers at the time. So Stein is re-litigating the case, arguing that Nader deserves no blame for George W. Bush becoming president.

    Remember also that the US presidential election is ‘first past the post’. If Bernie ran as an independent (and he won’t) Trump would win easily.

  7. ajogrady

    Matters Not. I do remember this but I feel that there are a lot more people in America who simply do not vote now compared to when Ralph Nader ran mainly on his celebrity, similar to Trump. These people feel neither party represents them. This is especially telling for the Democrats as they hold themselves up as the party for the workers and the underprivileged and these are the ones not voting. Sanders policies would resonate with them and many others who do vote and when the group who already support Sanders have the addition of many of the “non voters” I think as an Independent he could win. America and the world is screaming out for a ethical leader.

  8. ajogrady

    Mattefs Not:The other known unknown that was not about with Nader attempt is the influence of social media which could work very well for Sanders and his ability to connect with youth.

  9. Matters Not

    ajogrady, As of February 2020, Gallup polling found that 29% of Americans identified as Democrat, 30% identified as Republican, and 39% as Independent. As of December 2019, Gallup polling found that 28% of Americans identified as Democrat, 28% identified as Republican, and 41% as Independent. So there’s not a lot of movement currently.

    While voter turnout in the presidential elections has historically been better than the turnout for midterm elections, it has never been above 62.8% when the charismatic John Kennedy was elected. So it’s reasonable to assume that only about 3 out of 5 eligible voters will actually vote.

    Trump’s never been popular but currently his popularity has never been higher, regardless of which of the many and varied polls one looks at. Amazingly 90% of Republicans think he’s handling this COVID 19 crisis rather well and if they vote that way, that gives Trump one hell of a base – with his overall popularity now approaching 50%.

    While Sanders is very popular with educated young voters that’s not so with white older voters (far too radical for them) and virtually all black voters that make up approximately 13% of the electorate. If Sanders got even a minimum of support from progressive voters that would be enough to ensure Trump would be elected because it’s not a preferential contest. It’s a winner take all. The more popular Bernie was among young progressive independent voters the easier it would be for Trump to win. Trump (an atheist) would be literally and metaphorically praying for Sanders to run as an independent.

    Sanders won’t run as an Independent for at least 2 reasons. First, because he can count. Second, (and most importantly) because he said he would support whoever was the Democratic Party nominee and he knows now that won’t be him. Sanders’ first priority is to defeat Trump

  10. Matters Not

    ajogrady here’s some recent figures and analysis.


    To the degree that Mr. Trump is getting a bump in approval, the Pew poll found that it was coming especially from those who consider themselves political independents but lean Republican. His approval rating has leapt nine percentage points with these Americans since January, when the coronavirus was first detected in the United States. (Disapproval of Mr. Trump also softened slightly among Democrats, though to a lesser degree.)

    This group could represent a crucial voting bloc for Mr. Trump in the November general election. As partisan Republicans have coalesced around him, he has struggled among some moderate and conservative voters who don’t feel an allegiance to the party.

  11. Jack Cade

    Matters Not

    There are no ‘moderates’ in the US system. Only Bernie

  12. Matters Not

    Jack Cade – Probably so. But (as always) it depends on definition(s) employed and then relative location(s) on some form of spectrum. Further, Sanders’ ‘policies’ are/were best seen as ambit claims, given he’s a long-term Senator and knows full well that the US Congress is a place where deals are done and virtually zero passes without many and varied compromises.

    Sanders is now crucial in getting citizens out to vote.

  13. ajogrady

    Matters Not. I also have noted how the American public rally around their President in time of a crisis. This virus is Trumps Tampa. That being said polls have been proven wrong before. I know that my brain says that you are correct but my heart says that if Bernie believes that a revolution is needed then there is not a more opportune time then now with America and the world in chaos. The established parties are now interchangeable. Part of Trumps manifestos was to “drain the swamp”. This resonated with a lot of dissected voters where it counted. Sanders messaging is similar but stronger. There are a lot of Democrat politicians who are happy with the status quo and do not want to loose their Senate seats. They are seat warmers.They are part of the swamp and the problem.I would like to see Sanders stand as a Independent to piss off the Democrat establishment who have forgotten who their core constituants are. Sanders reminds me a lot of Gough Whitlam.
    America and the world needs a revolution not some half baked weak kneed compromise that sees that everything stays the same.
    Sorry Matters Not a bit of a ramble from me.

  14. Matters Not

    ajogrady re:

    have noted how the American public rally around their President in time of a crisis

    Not just the US public. A glance at any historical record will show that people will unite behind their (designated) leader in a time of war. Thus the temptation to declare war becomes inviting, particularly in times of political peril. Thatcher, for example, on April 5, 1982, sent a naval task force 8,000 miles into the South Atlantic to take on the Argentine forces in advance of an amphibious assault on the islands – even though it was a ‘war’ easily avoided via negotiation.

    Thatched rescued her political career and went on for many more years. No accident that Trump declared war on this virus. Lo and behold – he is now a wartime President – at least in his own mind and possible in the mind of his base. Chances are that Trump will win. Unbelievable as that may seem. But wars need to be won quickly. For Thatcher it took just 74 days. Methinks that this virus will be around sometime longer.

  15. ajogrady

    Matters Not. I once had lunch with Margaret Thatchers private secretary. At that lunch he recounted the events leading up to the sinking of the General Belgrano. He said that the British admirals were opposed to attacking the ship as it was retreating and many young sailors would loose their lives for no gain for the war effort.Thatcher,as he said, demanded that it be sunk to gain popularity for the war and also her strong leadership. He did not have a lot of respect for her at the end of his service with her. He was very disparaging of her.

  16. paul walter

    That is an interesting comment from Michael Taylor, early.

    One mistake the Democrats made in 2016 was the non choice of a nonentity for veep.

    A woman as Vice President would send out a positive signal of a like we have not seen from the tin eared democrats for some time.

    A competent woman centrist Vice President would be a reassuring spare tyre for US voters covering the possibility of something went wrong with the ageing Biden.

    The possible recession coming should spell the end for populists, but Bernie has done a good job, along with Elizabeth Warren, while the alliance of Trump and the contrarianist religious right appears to be fracturing.

  17. Terence Mills

    From the Trump Whitehouse :

    Donal Trump admitted on Monday that making it easier to vote in America would hurt the Republican party.

    The president made the comments as he dismissed a Democratic-led push for reforms such as vote-by-mail, same-day registration and early voting as states seek to safely run elections amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Democrats had proposed the measures as part of the coronavirus stimulus. They ultimately were not included in the $2.2tn final package, which included only $400m to states to help them run elections.

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