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Tulsi Gabbard, Jill Stein, And Hillary Clinton’s Greatest Fear

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Richard Drew

In case you just woke up from a four day coma, the weekend’s news cycle was dominated by an over-the-top intra-Democratic Party dispute between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard. Gabbard, a noted non-interventionist who, like President Trump, isn’t fond of the idea of endless, pointless, unwinnable wars across the ocean when there is so much to deal with on our own shores, predictably took issue with Clinton’s Friday podcast characterization of her as a “favorite of the Russians.”

The Hawaii congresswoman hit back hard, calling Clinton out as the “queen of warmongers” who has the blood of those killed in Iraq, a “war she championed,” unequivocally “on her hands.”

It was the best story of the weekend, by far, and kept the talking heads busy commenting on the exchange and even speculating on why Hillary would choose Gabbard of all candidates – someone who, despite being the most photogenic of the bunch by far, hasn’t managed to break two percent in the polls – to pick on in what should have been a pretty mundane podcast appearance. Some opined that the notably vainglorious former first lady merely wants to stay in the spotlight and, given their differences on foreign policy, Gabbard is an easy mark. Others speculated that Clinton may be prepping or testing the waters for her own run. Gabbard herself told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson she knows “exactly why,” because she is “standing up and speaking out strongly against the Hillary Clinton legacy, the warmongering legacy of waging these regime change wars.”

Sure, it could be all or any of those, to some degree. But what seems to have gotten little or no coverage in all the fireworks is, oddly enough, a full analysis of Clinton’s statement in its entirety. And that’s surprising, actually, because I believe it reveals a lot about the Democratic Party establishment’s mindset at this point in the campaign season. Consider: the Russians, according to Hillary, are “grooming” Gabbard “to be the third-party candidate.” In the same exchange, Clinton called 2016 Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein a “Russian asset.”

Here’s the relevant quote: “I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She’s the favorite of the Russians. That’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she is also a Russian asset. They know they can’t win without a third-party candidate, and so I do not know who it is going to be but I can guarantee you they will have a vigorous third-party challenge in the key states that they most need it.”

Tulsi got all the headlines, but why did Hillary also bring up Jill Stein, especially when the Green Party candidate isn’t even officially running yet? Like everyone else involved in the brouhaha, Stein offered up her own theory, except this one was the most accurate by far:

“Tulsi has said that she is dedicated to running as a Democrat and has been for her whole life. So that’s pretty believable. I am not running for office. Somehow Hillary Clinton didn’t do her Google research or she would know that I am not running,” Stein said in a CNN interview. “I think it speaks to Hillary’s need to try to explain perhaps to herself, you know, why her campaign was not successful.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. In 2016, Stein won enough votes in the key states of Wisconsin and Michigan to keep those states blue, had she been able to magically gift them to Hillary. In other words, it’s a pretty fair statement that, all other things being equal, a third party candidate, Jill Stein, may very well have cost Hillary Clinton the 2016 election.

And the only way to explain THAT, at least in Hillary’s warped mind, is those dastardly RUSSIANS!

Nevermind, of course, that third party candidates have cost Republicans too. Nevermind that Hillary Clinton herself would have never become First Lady, and consequently a national political figure, had it not been for Ross Perot’s 1992 Reform Party candidacy. Nevermind that, in 2016, libertarian candidate Gary Johnson won over three times as many votes in Michigan as Stein did, most of which would arguably have gone to Trump. Still, when one doesn’t feel like taking accountability for one’s own campaign mistakes and increasing irrelevancy, it’s always good to blame and call out Russians ... and Jill Stein ... and … Tulsi Gabbard?

Why Gabbard, especially considering the Hawaii congresswoman has never stated any sort of intention to launch a third party bid? Is it just the foreign policy differences that have Hillary’s attention, or is she simply using Gabbard – the candidate with whom she shares the least in common politically – to attempt to inoculate the Democratic Party against a potential third party run? If so, it’s actually a pretty brilliant move. By bringing in Stein and preliminarily calling her, and Gabbard – and by insinuation anyone who decides to go rogue – “Russian assets,” Clinton is possibly making it less likely that anyone of note will launch a third party bid and potentially cost the Democrats in key swing states.

Such an effort always has the chance of backfiring, obviously. Already, Gabbard’s national profile is at least twice what it was before the weekend. Keep it up, and she could be hopping mad enough to go third party just to spite a Democratic establishment that long ago lost its non-interventionist way. 

If you’re a Trump supporter, wouldn’t that be marvelous? And wouldn’t it be equally grand to not dilute our own vote with quixotic, self-aggrandizing bids by anti-Trump virtue signallers? As crazy as the Trump era has been, wouldn’t it be fun to sit back and watch the Democrats fracture while we back our guy - faults and all - in a cruise to victory?

And THAT, ladies and gents, would be Hillary Clinton’s greatest fear. 

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