Gabbard Derangement Syndrome

Is there nothing that the embattled elites won't blame on Russia?

Tim Black

Tim Black

Topics Politics USA

Tulsi Gabbard, the Democratic Congresswoman from Hawaii and, since February, Democratic presidential candidate, is highly unlikely to win the Democratic nomination. She has been polling in single digits, well behind the trio of frontrunners: former US vice-president Joe Biden, and senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Yet the Democratic establishment and its media cheerleaders seem to have become fixated on her. She annoys them. She riles them. And it’s not just because of her ambivalence towards identity politics and the other aspects of her Sanders-style progressivism – indeed, she endorsed Sanders in 2016, much to the chagrin of the Democratic establishment at the time. No, it’s also because of her uncompromising opposition to the ‘counterproductive regime-change wars’ pursued with such ignorant zeal by the likes of Democratic grandee Hillary Clinton. It’s because of her willingness to question the narratives that have justified Western intervention in Syria, including a secret fact-finding mission to Damascus, and a meeting with Bashar al-Assad in 2017. And it’s because she does all this not as a woolly pacifist, but as a war vet.

So where her small but growing band of supporters see a principled 38-year-old, armed with a progressive policy platform, and, above all, a strong commitment to anti-interventionism, her powerful opponents are determined to present her as something altogether more sinister. They talk of her being a poster girl for white supremacists and the alt-right, of her being a Republican stooge in Democratic clothing, and of her being some sort of Russian asset.

It’s genuinely crazy stuff. Last week, the New York Times even laid into her for wearing a white pantsuit for a TV debate, claiming it was somehow cult-like. But that is as nothing compared to the constant innuendo and sometimes outright claims that Gabbard is being backed by Russia and Putin, the seeming power behind all world disorder.

We’ve seen the LA Times and Politico note darkly that Gabbard is a favourite of Russian propaganda machines. And the NYT has reported that Gabbard is seen as ‘a potentially useful vector for Russian efforts to sow division within the Democratic Party’.

Then, of course, there’s Hillary Clinton herself, a woman who, since losing to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, is no longer able to go near a bed without spotting reds under it. Gabbard, unsurprisingly, does not escape Clinton’s conspiracist gaze. ‘I’m not making any predictions but I think [the Russians have] got their eye on somebody who’s currently in the Democratic primary, and they’re grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She’s the favorite of the Russians’, Clinton continued. ‘They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.’

That’s right. Clinton thinks Gabbard is a Russian plant. She thinks Gabbard is ‘being groomed’ by the Kremlin. She thinks she is being manoeuvred, by Putin and Co, out of the Democratic Party and into a third-party position, so as to split the Democratic vote in 2020. And she thinks that will hand victory once again to Russia’s Manchurian Candidate, Donald Trump, just as she thinks that Jill Stein, the Green Party’s 2016 presidential nominee, was also a Russian asset, used to split the vote three years ago and deprive Hillary of the election victory she still believes should be hers. The entitlement underwriting her deranged conspiracy theory is breathtaking.

But, if anything, the attempts of Clinton and her media enablers to delegitimise Gabbard’s presidential bid have only driven her on. ‘Thank you @HillaryClinton’, Gabbard tweeted last month. ‘You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain.’ Later, she continued the fightback: ‘If you’re sick of the new McCarthyism and warmongering by Hillary and her cohorts, then join our campaign.’ Which is pretty much on the money.

Yet, while Clinton and her cohorts may be exponents of the new McCarthyism, they are far from the only ones. And that is what is interesting about it. The new McCarthyism is now deployed by besieged elites throughout the West. Putin’s hand is seen everywhere, his power is seen as boundless. Or at least that’s what the theory implies. In reality, Russia-blaming has become one of the principal forms through which an embattled establishment both expresses and rationalises away its fear and anxiety. All domestic challenges, all political opposition, can be reduced to this single foreign plot. The gilets jaunes in France? Stirred up by Russia. Brexit? Russian cash and Facebook ads. Trump? Russian bots and a compromising videotape. And now the 2020 US presidential election? A Russian-groomed third-party candidate to split the vote.

It seems that any challenge to the status quo can be attributed to the omnipotent Putin.

But blaming Russia for everything that goes against establishment interests doesn’t just make the likes of Clinton or the UK’s Remainer elite feel better about losing. It also delegitimises our democratic process. So much so that, in the case of Brexit, a victory can near enough be voided and erased – as if it never happened.

Clinton is taking this tactic one step further. She is attempting to undermine and delegitimise not only Gabbard’s own unlikely presidential bid, but also any potential Trump victory in advance. It is deranged, and dangerous.

Tim Black is a spiked columnist.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Mister Joshua

29th November 2019 at 12:35 am

Your political elites want a war with Russia. Simple as that. The script had already been written before 2016. Hillary becomes the first woman president and the Pentagon gets its war. For all his warts at least Trump seems to want to avoid any more unnecessary wars. Of course that makes him a secret Russian spy, along with Ms Gabbard, and everyone else calling BS on our political establishment.

Maybe Trump’s ultimately going to be full of hot air, and we’ll end up in another senseless war. I hope not. But it’s amazing how many authors even here on Sp!ked have drank the Kool Aid and are falling over themselves to justify further engagement in Syria “to protect the Kurds” oh, “and democracy and human rights, or something or other”… yeah, right.

But think about this. Wars never, ever go according to plan. The US just got embarrassed in Iraq, and now they’re getting embarrassed in Syria and Ukraine.

The establishment couldn’t even get Hillary elected. What makes anyone think its war with Russia is going to turn out as expected.

Tim Wheeler

28th November 2019 at 6:53 pm

Discussed recently in an excellent Matt Tabbi ‘Useful Idiots’ podcast (and followed with an interview with Gabbard herself – speaking in Russian of course.)

Tim Wheeler

28th November 2019 at 7:21 pm

I see she is on the latest Joe Rogan Show too.

Ellen Whitaker

28th November 2019 at 6:03 pm

I agree with the general sentiment, but I think that Clinton actually said that the Republicans were grooming Gabbard as a third-party candidate. She went on to say that Jill Stein was also (like Gabbard) a “Russian asset.”

The white pantsuit business reminds me of when Bill Clinton was running for president, and Hillary was seriously taken to task in the press for wearing headbands. About equal in inanity.

Alexander Villa

28th November 2019 at 8:25 pm

At no point did HRC mention the RNC. That is a cover story HRCs people are now trying to sell since realizing how crazy HRC sounded in calling Gabbard a Russian asset. Stop trying to cover for the Clintons.

alan smithee

28th November 2019 at 5:34 pm

The excuses are already starting to come out and Labour haven’t lost yet. They will blame their defeat on Putin and some Jewish plot. The ink is drying on it now..

Melissa Jackson

28th November 2019 at 9:46 am

Am I the only one who finds the idea of Tulsi as an emblem of white supremacy to be a bit ludicrous? Given that she is mixed raced (so she is as white as Obama), is a practising Hindu, and has spent her whole life out of uniform on Pacific Islands.

It’s just a bit alarming that anyone ever thought this would fly at all.

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