What is Going On With Tulsi Gabbard?

I’ve noticed Tulsi’s bizarre unwillingness to critique Mr. Biden, and I cannot help wondering about it.

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Photo via Tulsi Gabbard on Instagram

While there’s no denying that she has virtually no chance of becoming president at this point, Tulsi Gabbard certainly serves a useful and necessary purpose within the context of both the Democratic Party and the Presidential primary season as well. As an Iraq War vet, Tulsi has crafted her own unique lane within the primary, advocating for the ending of senseless wars and continuing to rail against the Military industrial complex. As time has gone on however, I’ve begun to notice an odd tendency of hers that I genuinely do not understand.

It appears that Tulsi has chosen to make Kamala Harris her “target” as of late, and took the time to deliver a massive blow to her campaign during the second night of the Detroit Debate when addressing her problems with the former California Attorney General’s record on criminal justice. Even before then, she made a point of questioning Kamala’s “temperament” when it came to her ability to be an effective commander in chief.

While I am all for candidates critiquing their fellow candidates when it comes to the issues that matter to them, I couldn’t help but notice that Tulsi has been a staunch defender of Joe Biden, even in instances where it was entirely undeserved. I noticed her come to his defense when the rest of the Democratic field was condemning his ugly decision to tout “coming together” with segregationists (a decision he made in order to work with them to end forced bussing). Recently however, Gabbard’s new defenses of the former Vice President have frankly grown so ridiculous, they’ve got me viewing her unwillingness to critique him in an entirely new way.

After the debate, Tulsi was asked in an interview about Joe Biden’s Iraq War vote, and his response when it was called in to question during the event the night before. Tulsi’s response was:

“He was wrong. He said he was wrong, and he’s apologized for it. That’s the kind of reflection that’s important for any of politicians who made that wrong and fateful decision to vote for the Iraq War that resulted in the deaths of over four thousand of my brothers and sisters in uniform. I and every one of us, over a million service members who have deployed to the Middle East, who deployed to Iraq have been on the receiving end suffering the consequences of that decision that was made. This is why I’m so outspoken about how we have to end these wasteful regime change wars. It’s why I won’t apologize to anyone for doing whatever it takes to prevent more of my brothers and sisters in uniform from being sent to fight in these counterproductive wasteful wars.”

Oh, where to begin.

If Tulsi is going to question Kamala Harris’ ability to make honest sound decisions because of her poor criminal justice record, why then shouldn’t we question Joe Biden’s ability to make honest sound decisions because of not only his criminal justice record, but his foreign policy one as well?

She claims that his “reflection” and admission that he was wrong is exactly what we need to expect from the politicians who made that “fateful decision”, and yet Tulsi doesn’t seem to think that applies to any other bad aspect of his record. Mr. Biden not only refuses to apologize for the detrimental effects of his crime bill, he defends them. Mr. Biden refuses to apologize for the immigration policies of the Obama administration that resulted in three million deportations, but instead distances himself and attempts to conveniently absolve himself of any responsibility. That unfortunately does not seem to bother Ms. Gabbard at all, and I can’t help but wonder why.

Millions of people are suffering the consequences of Mr. Biden’s past legislative decisions, that haven’t only affected his constituents but people all over the continent and the globe. Keep in mind the fact that he bragged about writing legislation that propped up a drug Czar. His decisions haven’t just affected Tulsi’s “brothers and sisters in uniform”. They affected families torn apart because of the Obama administrations deportation efforts, and the “tough on crime” legislation that devastated families and entire communities. There is no more denying that Tulsi Gabbard is simply not holding Biden to the same standard that she holds other candidates like Kamala Harris, and I’m beginning to find it unsettling.

I had high hopes for Tulsi Gabbard, and I guess I still do to an extent. But I can’t help thinking that she was handed an opportunity by the interviewer to condemn a man responsible for putting her body and life on the line for a nonexistent cause, and she didn’t take it. Tens of thousands of teenage boys, girls, men and women lost everything because of a war that never should have been waged. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of innocent civilians lost their lives, but Tulsi really thinks Joe Biden saying “I was wrong” was enough?

I’m sorry, but it’s not.

There was no conscionable, justifiable reason for the Iraq War, and any politician who voted for it frankly should never be able to show their face on the national or world stage ever again. To see Tulsi so readily give Joe Biden her forgiveness when it was so unwarranted and undeserved was disappointing to say the least. For someone who positions herself as the anti-war candidate, and rails against the neocons and neoliberals so ready to get us in to another fight, I expected a whole lot better.

There was a time when Tulsi Gabbard literally stepped down from her position in the DNC to campaign for and endorse Bernie Sanders. She made that decision because her conscience told her to, and it was a moral, principled decision. What happened to that Tulsi? She stepped down from her position of power to advocate for a candidate because he voted against the Iraq War, and yet she’s willing to give Joe Biden a clear and convenient pass simply because he admits it was a wrong decision?

I can think of no explanation for Tulsi’s unnecessary defenses of Joe Biden. Maybe his team potentially already contacted hers to ensure she gets a seat in his cabinet if he become the nominee, and asked if she could help him out a little? Perhaps that’s a little too conspiratorial, and it probably is. The more likely answer is that maybe she’s made the determination that he’s going to be the nominee, and she sees that it’s in her best interest to cozy up in a way, to better her chances of getting a position in his administration. Whatever the answer is, and I’m convinced that there is one, we may never know. But if Mr. Biden does indeed become the nominee, I think the answers may be a little more clear.

Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at LaurenMartinchek@gmail.com or Twitter @xlauren_mx

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