For the past few months, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been playing nice. Quietly playing to a niche audience in her run for the Democratic presidential nomination, Gabbard has amassed a small coalition of supporters from the fringes of the left, the independent middle, and even from a certain percentage of interested right-wing observers.
All the while, the Hawaiian Democrat has attracted a growing chorus of criticism from left-wing pundits and politicians who view her as a potential spoiler. Attacked for her views on Syria, her willingness to call out the Democratic establishment, and her refusal to be as rabidly anti-Trump as the rest of the Resistance, Gabbard has been called everything from a DINO to a secret Russian asset.
This week, Gabbard finally had enough. After Hillary Clinton suggested that Russia was “grooming someone” in the Democratic primary field to be the next Jill Stein, Gabbard decided that she would no longer tolerate these unfounded attacks. She erupted on Twitter, slamming Clinton as “the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long.”
On Sunday, Gabbard confirmed that her shot across the bow at Hillary would only be the first fired in a longer war. In a video released on Twitter, Gabbard accused Clinton of being furious about her endorsement of Bernie Sanders in 2016.
“People warned me in 2016 that my endorsement of Bernie Sanders would be the end of my ‘political career.’ They said, ‘Clinton will never forget,’ that ‘she and her rich and powerful friends, her allies in politics and the media, will make sure that you are destroyed,’” Gabbard said in the video.
In her accompanying post, Gabbard wrote: “Hillary & her gang of rich, powerful elite are going after me to send a msg to YOU: “Shut up, toe the line, or be destroyed.” But we, the people, will NOT be silenced. Join me in taking our Democratic Party back & leading a govt of, by & for the people!”
We eagerly make a batch of popcorn every time there’s a good Democratic Party in-fight, but this has a different tenor to the ones that have come before it. This isn’t Nancy Pelosi vs. The Squad, as entertaining as that one has been. Gabbard is out for blood, and she’s taking no prisoners. And unlike Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her goons, Gabbard’s views are much more mainstream. She may have supported Bernie Sanders in 2016, but her own views are extreme only insofar as they are moderate – a platform that the Democratic Party left behind some years ago. Her war with Hillary Clinton could potentially vault her out of the second tier of the primaries and get her some traction with the voters.
If nothing else, hers is a voice that is much needed in Democratic politics right now. Hopefully, she’ll get the spotlight she’s so far been denied.