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

Others note that “[Warren] has provided more detail on Medicare financing than Sanders has. She has also provided more overall policy detail, including on the taxes she would raise, than Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg. And her Medicare plan comes much, much closer to paying for itself than various Republican tax cuts. I wish the conservatives complaining about her plan applied the same rigor to their own ideas… The biggest weakness of Warren’s approach is that it tries to bulldoze through the sizable public anxiety about radical changes to the health care system. Warren would not let people opt into Medicare, a wildly popular idea. She would force them to join… she needs to come up with a reassuring transition plan soon.”
David Leonhardt, New York Times

“Trump’s defenders will say this evidence is all circumstantial. But circumstantial evidence is not weak evidence: it’s simply evidence based on the circumstances in which an act of wrongdoing is committed — such as the license plate of a car that speeds away from a bank just after that bank is robbed. Criminals are convicted on such evidence all the time. They will also say that there’s no explicit quid pro quo proposal here. But… ‘even when a corrupt deal is struck implicitly, the government can still prosecute extortion on a quid pro quo basis. Circumstantial evidence can be enough to prove a criminal exchange.’…

“In the absence of an explicit quid pro quo over restarting aid, the context and circumstances are what will become the focus of the investigation. There is enough here to support impeachment. Whether it is also enough to convince Republicans and lead to removal is another matter.”
Noah Feldman, Bloomberg

Some suggest that Congress “remove Trump from office, so that he cannot abuse incumbency to subvert the electoral process, but let the American people make the judgment on whether or not he gets a second term… Removing Trump from office for the remainder of his term would disable him from abusing presidential power again and protect the integrity of the electoral process from inappropriate interference. At the same time, letting him run for a second term would permit the American electorate to decide whether Trump, despite his attempt to subvert the system, should have another chance… Decoupling removal from disqualification lowers the stakes and changes the constitutional calculus. As long as Trump can run again, Republicans cannot hide behind a claim that they are [the] ones protecting voter choice by opposing impeachment.”
Edward B. Foley, Politico

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

“After adding in the ultra-millionaire’s tax and factoring in the other capital taxes Warren wants to levy — on financial transactions, on unrealized capital gains, on corporations — we’d be asking every billionaire to hand over more than two-thirds of their total wealth over a 10-year period. If the government actually managed to collect it, their fortunes would rapidly erode — and so would tax collections. The plan might be a good way to smash wealth, but it’s a terrible way to fund the nation’s health-care system…

“If Warren makes it to the White House, and tries to pass a plan, the Congressional Budget Office will eventually attach more reasonable numbers, with more defensible assumptions, sparking an even more spectacular political blowback than the one that greeted Friday’s announcement. Outside of the progressive Twitterati, there isn’t necessarily an enormous constituency for spending $20.5 trillion to herd every American into a national health insurance program; there would be even less support for spending what Warren’s plan would actually cost.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

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