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Why Tulsi backed Biden

She suspended her campaign at the right moment

March 19, 2020

9:04 PM

19 March 2020

9:04 PM

Though neither her supporters and detractors wanted to hear it, Tulsi Gabbard was always clear that she would support the eventual Democratic nominee. Now, with the Democratic primary functionally over, she has endorsed the nominee — Joe Biden. It’s really as simple as that.

Tulsi haters loved to invent wild theories about her supposedly sinister motivations, and were always either unwilling or incapable of just listening to her plain-spoken words. Over and over again, she said she would not run as a third-party candidate and would support the eventual nominee. Anyone surprised by her announcement today had no reason to be: it doesn’t contradict anything she’s said in the past; in fact,  it comports entirely with what she always said she would do.

The only material change today was to Tulsi’s previous declaration that she’d actively campaign all the way till the convention. She said on multiple occasions that she would do this, and I have every reason to believe she authentically intended to do so. But like virtually every other aspect of American political and social life right now, the coronavirus crisis upended those plans. She couldn’t justify continuing to campaign with a horrific pandemic raging — even as a ‘message candidate’ — especially when she’s needed in Congress to work on emergency legislation. She also must prepare in the plausible event that her National Guard unit is activated. Tulsi was going to endorse the Democratic nominee, coronavirus simply moved up the date in the calendar when that happened.

As far as VP speculation: don’t be ridiculous. Tulsi satisfies only two vice presidential criteria for Biden: being a woman and not being white. The idea that Joe Biden’s team of lawyers, drawn from the inner sanctum of the decrepit DC Democratic establishment — think Ron Klain — are pondering who to vet for vice president and say to themselves: ‘You know who would really work? The lady from the esoteric religious sect in Hawaii, who wouldn’t vote to impeach Trump, defended Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, called Elizabeth Warren a “fake indigenous woman of color,” slammed the CIA and FBI (rather than Russia) for “interfering” in US elections, denounced the “continued illegal occupation” by Israel of Palestinian territory, wants to legalize and regulate all drugs, of course met with Bashar al-Assad, and last but not least is currently suing the previous Democratic nominee for defamation.’ 


Give me a break. It’s a wonder that Biden’s handlers even got the OK to put out a tweet today politely thanking her for the endorsement.

One counterpoint from some aggrieved Tulsi supporters is: couldn’t she have dropped out today and not endorsed anybody? Well, maybe. But why prolong the process? The Democratic primaries have been a shambolic exercise in futility, overtaken by desperate ‘normie Democrats’ whose sole desire is to defeat Trump: hence the easy ascendance of Joe Biden. Actually, defeating Trump has always been a high priority for Tulsi as well — she proclaimed as much over and over again — but the pundits refused to take her at her word. They always had to ascribe some kind of mysterious, malign intent, rather than actually listen to what she was saying. Believe it or not, making frequent appearances on Fox News doesn’t in turn make her a secret Republican or Trump supporter. She’s a lifelong Democrat, even if many in the Democratic party intelligentsia hate her.

Endorsing Biden reflects what everyone already knows: that barring physical incapacitation (which, let’s be honest, can’t be 100 percent ruled out under the circumstances) Biden will be the nominee. There is no point hosting potemkin primaries until June. Bernie is no longer in the ‘movement-building’ phase of his political mission, which was a sound justification for him to compete all the way through in 2016. But this race isn’t even as close as 2016. Bernie lost the primaries in Idaho and Washington State, for Christ’s sake. He just got wiped out in Florida, Illinois and Arizona. Unsurprisingly, he has pulled digital ad spending, a clear precursor to a campaign suspension of his own. Bernie too will soon endorse his good pal Joe, much to the chagrin of online Bernie pundits wailing with rage about Tulsi supposedly abandoning her principles. 

It’s not true that she abandoned her principles, because again, a guiding principle of her campaign was a commitment to backing the eventual Democratic nominee. I guess I’ll repeat that over and over again until it gets through to people. What’s more, her endorsement of Biden wasn’t unqualified or uncritical. She clearly has strong reservations about Biden in numerous respects, especially foreign policy. None of those reservations subside just because she prefers Biden over Trump. (She also didn’t pick Biden over Bernie. Bernie is no longer realistically contending for the nomination — the primary is effectively over. She was simply picking Biden over Trump.) Unlike other vehement Democratic partisans, don’t expect her to lecture, harangue, or scold her supporters into voting for Biden. Many of them will never do so anyway and she recognizes this.

Holding in-person primary elections this week was an unconscionable health hazard, as Tulsi herself said. Public officials are begging Americans to please not leave their houses, and yet they also encouraged them to show up to packed polling places on Tuesday. Not only does it make zero sense, it has worsened a pandemic, which is dangerous and immoral. Holding further in-person primary elections will likewise further spread the pandemic. Tulsi couldn’t rationalize continuing under those circumstances, and nor should Bernie. He cannot even hold rallies for the foreseeable future, so what’s the point? It’s over. Depressing, but true.

Meanwhile, weirdos on Twitter made ‘Michael Tracey’ a nationally trending topic all day today because they seemingly have nothing better to do during a devastating national crisis than vicariously take out their inchoate Tulsi-related rage on me, some random schmuck. I guess you’ve got to occupy yourself during quarantine somehow!


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