Tulsi Gabbard is looking pretty good right now. I mean, even better than usual. The veteran and Hawaii congresswoman has stood out from the crowded Democratic field with her peacenik foreign policy-focused campaign. And now President Trump, with his impulsive killing of Qasem Soleimani, has become the Big Bad Hawk Gabbard has described him as all along.
When she entered the race in February of last year, Gabbard pledged to strike out against the military-industrial complex:
‘We must stand up. Stand up against powerful politicians from both parties who sit in their ivory towers, thinking up new wars to wage, new places for people to die, wasting trillions of our taxpayer dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives and undermining our economy and our security, and destroying our middle class.‘
Gabbard then raised eyebrows with her doom-mongering piece-to-camera videos, soundtracked with low, droning strings that seemed more apt for a Christopher Nolan trailer. ‘President Trump says he doesn’t want war with Iran,’ she intoned last May, ‘but that’s exactly what he wants, because that’s exactly what Saudi Arabia, Netanyahu, al-Qaeda, Bolton, Haley and other neocons and neolibs want.’
Despite her direct approach, and the various neocons peppering the Trump ranks at the time, her warnings seemed to ring hollow. Yes, there were various flashpoints last year when the likes of John Bolton were pressing for military intervention in Iran and Venezuela. But Trump didn’t ultimately take action: the hawks’ cries were balanced out by the influence of isolationists like Rand Paul and Tucker Carlson. Bolton, Haley and many of the flagship neocons Gabbard employed as paper tigers have since been cycled out of the Trump administration.
In the new decade, however, Trump seems to finally be singing off the Gabbard songsheet, as we can see from the Soleimani assassination, charitably dubbed ‘improvisational‘ and a ‘blow for peace‘ by my comrades Freddy Gray and Daniel McCarthy.
At the end of 2019, Tulsi was out in the weeds, threatening to boycott debates she hadn’t qualified for and frantically posting workout videos like every other Instagram influencer. She kicked off the new year by surfing in an early-primary state, perhaps hoping the tide would carry her off so she wouldn’t have to suffer the ignominy of scoring lowly on February 3.
But the escalating conflict with Iran should be an adrenaline shot into her candidacy — something most Democrats languishing at the lower end of the polls would envy. It could serve the same purpose for her as billionaire Bloomberg’s entry into the race has for Bernie Sanders; creating a tangible foil for the points she’s been making all along. As it happens, Gabbard opened her first field office in New Hampshire last night.
Most voters don’t want war. Is there time in the Democratic primary process for Tulsi to prove that?