Tulsi in 2024?

Suddenly, the ex-Congresswoman from Hawaii seems to be everywhere, shape-shifting, gaslighting, and raising questions about a Trump-Gabbard ticket abound

It’s Hump Day, political junkies—and I know you are busy. Monday’s post was viral, so thanks to those of you who shared it with friends. When you share, people subscribe!

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Suddenly, after a period of hibernation since she declined to run for re-election from Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional district in 2020 (running for the Democratic presidential nomination instead), Tulsi Gabbard is everywhere.

She has opinions on everything and is checking every national populist box. Kyle Rittenhouse, currently awaiting a decision in his Kenosha, WI murder trial, “was just a foolish kid who felt he needed to protect people & the community from rioters & arsonists because the government failed to do so," she tweeted on Thursday. The Democratic Congress is too busy squabbling. She told Fox News host Sean Hannity the same day: “They’re so focused on saying, ‘Hey, well if that was a Republican idea or a Republican policy, then it must be rejected.’”

And in an interview with Washington Examiner reporter Sydney Shea—also on Thursday—Gabbard cried crocodile tears for her “friend” Joe Biden:

You know, I’ve considered Joe Biden a friend for many years, and I’ve been disheartened to see the direction that he’s taken in this administration, that is undermining the fundamental principles of our country, that is actually tearing our country apart, rather than working to bring us together to find our way forward and have respectful dialogue, even as we may have disagreements or differences on different issues, but come together as Americans treating each other with respect," she said.

Then there is a new website that highlights Gabbard’s military service, her time on Congress, and her “spiritual path” in both Christian and Hindu faiths. Next is an “Aloha” page where you can donate money (for something…I wonder what?) I thought “aloha” expresses the spirit of Hawaiian welcome, but I guess maybe it’s the thing a Hawaiaan politician says before they reach their hand into your pocket. Finally, there is also a support button that takes you to a page where, for $70 a year, you can subscribe to “exclusive content” from Tulsi.

Do you know what Gabbard’s web page never mentions? That she was a Democrat.

There isn’t much to say about this yet, but I have two thoughts. The first is that everyone wondered why Gabbard ran for president in 2020, but as an issue, it wasn’t prominent because everyone and their sister were running in the Democratic primary. But I now suspect that the plan was to give her visibility with Democratic or Trump-alienated independents.

I also think running for president has morphed into a more complex enterprise: some people throw their hat in the ring because they genuinely imagine they could be president: Biden, Harris, Warren, Sanders, Klobuchar, and Booker fit this profile.

Others run as a kind of “internship” to position themselves as vice-president since the primary campaign has become, in itself, a vetting process. You go very public: if nothing disqualifying comes out in the glare of media attention, and you manage not to lose your temper, you become a vice-presidential possibility: here, I would say all of the above but Sanders, Warren, and Biden qualify—also Buttigieg, Swalwell, and Gabbard. (Who the heck knows why Marianne Williamson ran under the inspiring slogan “What was. What is. What will be.”)

So there’s that. Second, last Thursday, a Reddit thread titled “Hypothetically, how would a Trump/Gabbard ticket do in 2024?” also launched to remarkably low enthusiasm. Of course, people on Reddit can generally think of something to say about anything, so this lukewarm reception may be a sign that the idea isn’t going anywhere. But it is not for lack of trying. On October 9, The Hill speculated that Gabbard would be a good running mate for a Ron DiSantis candidacy (although in November 2019, The Hill imagined that Buttigieg-Gabbard would be “the Democratic ticket that scares Trump the most.”

But also back in 2019, libertarian populist blogger Lew Rockwell imagined a Trump-Gabbard “fusion ticket.” So this is the thing to keep our eye on: might Tulsi be the lure to bring independents and dissatisfied Democrats to any Republican ticket in 2024—whether Trump is on it or not? Or is it a sign that there are forces at work in which a third, Trump-party, would sheer off from the GOP?

Watch this space—and tell me what you think in the comments section below.

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Short takes:

  • After 30 years of academic life, I thought I had seen everything, but this takes the cake. In an in-depth report, the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Jack Stripling reports on CUNY psychologist Jeffrey Parson’s party lab. It brought in millions of dollars in grants to study HIV-AIDS prevention and transmission—and for years, reports about Parsons behavior—public drinking, drug use, sex in research sites, and the routine sexual humiliation of graduate assistants—went uninvestigated. Why letters of resignation from the president of Hunter, where the lab was based, and the head of CUNY’s Research Foundation are not in hand I do not know: thousands of dollars in grant money for Parsons’ personal pleasure seems to have been siphoned off, and the harm to graduate students immense. (November 10, 2021)

  • If you are working at home, it is increasingly likely that your company is spying on you. “Despite evidence that working from home has not diminished U.S. productivity during the pandemic,” Don Lee of the Los Angeles Times writes, “employers are increasingly turning to monitoring software that can track workers’ keystrokes, log active hours, take regular screenshots and even activate a web camera.” (November 16, 2021)

  • I have never liked Mark Meadows, the former congressional Freedom Caucuser from NC-11, who became Trump’s last chief of staff. Remember when he had a little breakdown in a congressional hearing when a young, female Democrat of color noted that Meadows had used a Black staffer as a prop to immunize him against charges of racism? Which he was actually doing? Meadows, who appeared to be on the brink of tears, made a personal appeal to his friendship with Elijah Cummings, and Cummings forced his colleague to “clarify her remarks” even though she had said something obvious to the rest of us. Anyhooaccording to Rebecca Beitsch at The Hill, in the aftermath of Steve Bannon being indicted for contempt of Congress, Meadows again seems to be trying to play on both sides of the street, saying that he is “between a rock and a hard space” when it comes to his own subpoena. “He's exerted, and rightfully so, his executive privilege. And it's not up to me to waive it.” Except, of course, that is a lie: Trump does not have executive privilege as an ex-president. So belly up to the witness table, dude. (November 15, 2021)

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