October 21, 2019

Clinton’s Comments on Gabbard

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“Hillary Clinton’s suggestion this past week that Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is being ‘groomed’ by Russians to act as a spoiler in the 2020 race may have had the opposite effect of what the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee intended: It’s elevated Gabbard’s candidacy and may have inspired even more ardent interest in her campaign among Clinton critics.” AP News

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From the Left

The left criticizes both Clinton’s accusations and Gabbard’s candidacy for President.

“Clinton is right that there is plenty to worry about with Gabbard. Indeed, debate moderators and other Democratic candidates should have never let her escape the first debates without direct questions about her unnatural fluency with both Syrian and Russian talking points. Gabbard even emulates the stiff, unnatural cadences of Russian rhetoric, as when she referred to Clinton on Twitter as the ‘queen of the warmongers’—the Russians used to refer to the close Clinton ally Madeleine Albright as ‘Madam War.’ She repeatedly echoes pro–Bashar al-Assad propaganda in using the phrase regime-change warto describe the U.S. presence in Syria…

“[But] Clinton’s accusation that Gabbard is a tool of the Russians was so blunt and clumsy that it has added new life to a primary bid that should never have existed in the first place. Within a day, Gabbard was already fundraising off of it, a development as predictable as a sunrise… Far from exposing or thwarting Gabbard… the former secretary of state overshot the mark by making an accusation without proof.”
Tom Nichols, The Atlantic

“No evidence was offered to support this assertion, nor have frequent allegations that Russia is helping Gabbard’s campaign been proven… Obama administration official and current CNN commentator Van Jones called Clinton’s comments ‘disinformation’ on that network Friday. ‘I do not want someone of her stature to legitimate these attacks against anybody,’ Jones said. ‘If you’ve got real evidence, come forward with it. But if you’re just going to smear people casually on podcasts, you are playing right into the Russians’ hands’… As [the acting director of national intelligence] notes, the very fact that a Russia misinformation campaign is in the public discourse hampers the democratic process by damaging public trust.
Riley Beggin, Vox

“Alt-right internet stars, white nationalists, libertarian activists and some of the biggest boosters of Mr. Trump heap praise on Ms. Gabbard. They like the Hawaiian congresswoman’s isolationist foreign policy views. They like her support for drug decriminalization. They like what she sees as censorship by big technology platforms. Then there is 4chan, the notoriously toxic online message board, where some right-wing trolls and anti-Semites fawn over Ms. Gabbard, calling her ‘Mommy’ and praising her willingness to criticize Israel…

“Some of those who have worked with Ms. Gabbard say that, as an Iraq war veteran whose chief message is that America should stop trying to police the world, she is representing viewpoints that draw support from an array of people in the United States as well as abroad… Still, Democrats are on high alert about foreign interference in the next election and the D.N.C. is well aware of the frequent mentions of Ms. Gabbard in the Russian state news media. An independent analysis of the Russian news media found that RT, the Kremlin-backed news agency, mentioned Ms. Gabbard frequently for a candidate polling in single digits.”
Lisa Lerer, New York Times

Dated but relevant: “The fact is that a foreign policy that elevates America's narrow national interest above any broader concerns will inevitably lead to unsavory realpolitik alliances, regardless of whether it is pro- or anti-war. If ‘The Blob’ — as the bipartisan interventionist foreign policy establishment is sarcastically called — has a tendency to exaggerate the threat posed to the international order by regimes that don't play by America's rules in order to justify overthrowing them, Gabbard-style anti-interventionist nationalists have a tendency to downplay the threat that odious regimes who play ball with America pose for their own people in order to enlist them…

“It is not a coincidence that Gabbard has questioned whether Assad actually deployed chemical weapons against innocent Syrians at all. Or that she has praised [Egyptian dictator] Sisi for his ‘great courage and leadership.’ Or that she refused to support a House resolution that offered the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom — which occurred on [Indian Prime Minister] Modi's watch — as an example of India's persecution of its religious minorities… The very politicos who are anti-war often become pro-dictator. Unfortunately, Democratic presidential contender Tulsi Gabbard, the congresswoman from Hawaii, is no different.”
Shikha Dalmia, The Week

“If we’re really lucky, this might be the occasion for some significant reform. The absolute minimum that should be done is for Iowa to switch from a caucus to a primary… What would be even better is if we finally took the opportunity to end Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status… We have to release ourselves from the tyranny of this state and its stubborn voters. Let me speak for those of us in the other 49: We’re pretty sick and tired of you Iowans telling us how it’s so important that you have this privilege for all eternity because you ‘take it so seriously.’ If you took it seriously, you wouldn’t use this insane voting process. And maybe more than 16 percent of you would actually turn out to vote… No one state deserves the status Iowa took for itself, and it has shown it can’t manage it. The country needs to take control of the election out of Iowa’s hands.”
Paul Waldman, Washington Post

Regarding Pelosi, “[her] talents have always lain in the less glamorous, less public side of politics: she is good at whipping up votes in her caucus and she is good at disciplining dissenters. She is good at offering incentives and punishments to get Democratic members of Congress to do what she wants them to do… To rip up the speech on television was a bit of theatricality, sure – a ploy designed to get attention. It also worked. The day after Trump made a long speech full of misinformation that tried to make a case for his re-election, no one is talking about him. Instead we are talking about the speaker of the House. That, too, is a skill, one that Pelosi seems to be honing.”
Moira Donegan, The Guardian

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right criticizes Clinton’s accusations and is divided about Gabbard’s foreign policy views.

From the Right

The right criticizes Clinton’s accusations and is divided about Gabbard’s foreign policy views.

“In the intelligence world, an ‘asset’ is an intelligence service agent or officer. For Gabbard to be a Russian asset, she would thus either have to be taking direction from a Russian intelligence service or intentionally working on behalf of one of those services. There is no evidence that this is the case. Nor is there evidence that Gabbard is being used by the Kremlin to gain influence in Washington (an access agent), or to purvey Russian propaganda (a useful idiot). The truth is more basic: Gabbard is a Kremlin favorite because her policy ideas fit with Russian strategic objectives. That's as far as it goes.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

“Gabbard’s foreign policy views may well be wrongheaded ones. But she’s direct and honest about them, and it’s highly unlikely that she’s been bribed, brainwashed or coerced into these positions… In Gabbard’s worldview, the preeminent priority of the United States is avoiding terror attacks and avoiding getting sucked into wars triggered by terror attacks. While she rarely says so explicitly, her experience suggests she sees the the best option to pursue this difficult goal is to reach deals with the brutal but non-Islamist dictators and monarchs who will keep order… History suggests [however] that American alliances of convenience with unsavory dictators rarely last or turn out well for us, whether it’s Stalin, Marcos, the Shah, Saddam Hussein against the Iranians, Pakistan…

“Until Hillary Clinton or anyone else generates some actual proof, treat Tulsi Gabbard for what she appears to be — an impassioned isolationist who believes the United States has no business attempting to spread our values or stand up for human rights abroad, and who’s comfortable working with brutal dictators if the end result is fewer American casualties. Not every bad or controversial idea in public life is a sign of a sinister conspiracy.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“Tulsi Gabbard is a progressive, Samoan American woman, and Democratic candidate for president. But apparently we’re supposed to believe she’s also a Russian stooge and alt-right figurehead… It’s frankly astounding that… the Times would citesupporting drug decriminalization as evidence that someone panders to the alt-right…

“The anti-Semitic alt-right loves Rep. Ilhan Omar for her criticisms of Israel. But something tells me the Times (rightly) won’t use that as evidence that the left-wing Muslim woman of color is secretly alt-right. Fringe figures are going to support somebody, and Gabbard has denounced their support in no uncertain terms. No one can point to any actual racism in Gabbard’s record, so this amounts to little more than a vicious smear of a candidate who dares stray from mainline Democrat orthodoxy.”
Brad Polumbo, Washington Examiner

“Gabbard hasn’t scored above 3% in any poll, and she has a lot more zeroes than threes. Her current polling aggregation average is 1.2%.If the Russians are ‘grooming’ her, they’re terrible at their jobs. This, of course, is part of the same conceit of Russiagate all along. We have spent the last three years hyperventilating over a Russian ‘merry prankster’ disinformation campaign that spent $25 million in a cycle where the two candidates and their allies spent well over two billion dollars on messaging. No one — not a single person — has ever shown that the Russian social-media campaign ever changed a single voter’s mind, regardless of their intent. This is an insane conspiracy theory.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

“Clinton lost 2016 not because of Russian interference but because she was a horrible, completely unlikeable candidate. It’s a truth Clinton and her minions seem unable and unwilling to accept. Any time Clinton and her ilk rail against Russian interference or suggest President Donald Trump wasn’t legitimately elected simply plays into his hands and does nothing to bring in former Trump voters who may be on the fence for 2020…

“The best advice for Clinton and her allies is to stop suggesting any sort of divergence from the typical party line on foreign policy automatically means Russian influence. It’s more than likely Russian-owned stations see Gabbard as friendly because she’s not willing to commit U.S. troops to every potential global conflict. Thisreduces the chance of war with Russia, China, and Iran and potentially saves American lives. A goal worth pursuing.”
Taylor Millard, Hot Air

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

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