The previous week, Hillary Clinton suggested that Russia and the Republicans were attempting to undermine the Democratic presidential race by potentially installing a Manchurian candidate in the field. Clinton did not mention any names. However, everyone knew whom Clinton was targeting, including the individual in question: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
Originally a 1950s novel by Richard Condon and adapted as a screenplay, the term has become a synonym in popular culture. Just as in the book, however, a Manchurian candidate is a puppet, controlled by an adversarial power.
A Manchurian candidate could now have infiltrated the Democratic Party and the current race for the presidential nominee. This is according to 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton. Her evidence? Russia!
Clinton recently broke the ‘news’ on a podcast she appeared on. Suggesting Republicans were currently grooming a Democratic primary election participant to run as an independent candidate. Given the other individuals in the field, it pretty much equalled to shouting out Gabbard’s name with a megaphone.
Clinton also attempted to establish a case by stating that the politician in question was receiving significant Russian support on the internet, to chase decisive votes from the candidate of the Democrats in the presidential election next year and thus allow Trump a second term. Prior to Clinton, US media had reported that Russia-related internet sites were, indeed, celebrating the election campaign of Gabbard, while defending her policies.
Gabbard’s reaction? She took it to the preferred stage for conflicts in the year 2019: Twitter. Eloquently referring to Clinton as “the queen of warmonger”, before urging her to join the race.
For those who have read to this point and still wonder ‘who?’, your incredulity is warranted. Tulsi Gabbard is a Congresswoman from Hawaii, who has received some media attention for not being the typical Democrat. In a field that might be missing the spark, one could think an a-typical persona was just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately, in Gabbard’s case, the prescription is simply not for the faint-hearted.
Gabbard is a war veteran who served her country in combat. Her domestic policies can undoubtedly be labelled progressive – as she finds herself in line with the frontrunners Warren and Sanders. The focus of critique on her has since been her opposition to interventionism, which is far away from mainstream Democratic, liberal ideas. Particularly if the lack of interventionist spirit favours dictators.
And here it gets somewhat dicey. Gabbard has continuously uttered amicable words for Syria’s dictator Bashar Assad, whom she met in 2017. To an extent, that Gabbard has shown similarities to Trump and his disdain for expert opinions, e.g. his intelligence community. Gabbard’s most ‘Trumpian’ moment occurred when she openly disputed expert reports about Assad – who is backed by Russia – being responsible for the use of chemical weapons against his people. Needless to say, that no one in the race shares her position.
Now, one could make a case for Gabbard as a peace-loving pacifist, who seeks to spare the lives of innocent people, right? Well, not per se. It would appear that military action is acceptable, as long as it is not conducted by the US. Four years ago, Gabbard sent this now infamous Tweet:
Al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11 and must be defeated. Obama won’t bomb them in Syria. Putin did. #neverforget911
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) October 1, 2015
Yes, this is a Democratic Congresswoman, who takes side with Vladimir Putin over the US President (and Democrat) Barack Obama.
Besides her stances on foreign affairs, her appearances on Fox News have also raised eyebrows. Not that Democrats should not or have not appeared on the program – though the 2020 field has been somewhat reluctant. It is the shows she decides to appear on. Being interviewed by top-class journalists such as Chris Wallace, Bret Baier or the now-departed Shepard Smith could be classified as advancing the own agenda. Slandering other party members on Hannity or Tucker Carlson, whose viewership census is not known as an ‘I may vote Democrats’ bastion is a different story entirely. Most importantly, it is a choice: pro herself and contra Democrats.
Nevertheless, do ill-advised visions of foreign policy and questionable TV appearances equate to being part of a nefarious masterplan and devoted to Mother Russia? Hardly. If it were, Congress would resemble the Kremlin – and Ilhan Omar would likely be tried for treason. Which brings us to Hilary Clinton. The question is warranted: If her name was not Clinton, would an outlandish statement such as hers provoke more than a shoulder shrug by Democrats? This is a former First Lady, former Senator, former Secretary of State and former (horrendous) presidential candidate, who publicly engages in an Alex Jonesesque conspiracy theory. Her words made her look bitter and displayed that she still does not seem to realise it was mainly herself, who lost in 2016. Moreover, Clinton has done Gabbard a kindness by providing her such a significant platform.
But will it matter? Gabbard barely reaches 2 per cent in the polls. Currently, she does not even qualify for the November debate. However, the rumours about a potential independent candidacy continue to circulate. Most recently, while Gabbard continues to deny the idea, she has declared not to seek reelection for Congress. Whether this is a coincidence or all part of the ‘masterplan’, remains to be seen.
A third-party candidate, if played correctly, can undoubtedly make or break a presidential campaign – the late great President George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot can attest to this. However, Gabbard’s alleged puppet master, whether it is Russia or the Republicans, better move on to plan B, as, whether it was dependent, independent or interdependent: Tulsi Gabbard cannot swing a primary at this point. And if Democrats ceased putting her onto a pedestal she does not deserve to be on; Gabbard would return to political irrelevance in a New York minute.
Russia has evidentially meddled in the previous election and is – by all accounts – trying to interfere in the upcoming one also. It is, however, hard to believe that Gabbard would be Putin’s or the Republican’s first choice for a conspiracy of unheard magnitude. Moreover, right now, Clinton, as well as an inept field of candidates, cause much more damage to the Democratic party than the most equipped Manchurian candidate could possibly achieve.