The upcoming twelve-candidate Democratic presidential primary debate is probably going to be another mess, but one highlight will be the return of Tulsi Gabbard to the stage — good news not just for Michael Brendan Dougherty, but for everyone who wants to see an actual debate. In a series of prime-time meetings that have included a lot of repetitive platitudes and all-too-convenient anecdotes about an American everyman that candidates met on the trail, one of the few genuine bits of drama comes from the question of who Gabbard will go after and why.
The Hawaii congresswoman’s debate performances haven’t done much to break her out of the asterisk category, but boy, can she dissect an opponent’s record in a devastating fashion. You could argue that Gabbard more than anyone else triggered the slide of Kamala Harris since the second debate.
People forget that Gabbard pulled off a similarly effective attack against Tim Ryan in the first debate; Ryan was left insisting that even though he “didn’t want to be engaged” in Afghanistan, as president he would keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan in an engagement he just said he didn’t want. (Then again, people forget about Tim Ryan in general.)
In the first debate, she decried “a government that is of, by, and for the rich and powerful,” which would suggest that Hunter Biden’s deals and business partners would be fertile territory. She recently said she hasn’t seen much evidence that Elizabeth Warren is ready to be commander-in-chief. Or she may go after Harris again; she also recently scoffed at Harris’ proposal to ban President Trump from Twitter. (You figure no one will be all that tough on the guy in third place who just had heart surgery.)
Yet earlier this year, Gabbard declined to criticize Biden over his Iraq War vote (“He said he was wrong and he has apologized for it more than once. That’s the kind of reflection that I think is important for any one of our politicians”) and when Harris slammed Biden on bussing, Gabbard called it a “false accusation that Joe Biden is a racist.”
Does this sound like someone auditioning to be a running mate?