Juan Williams: Heed Clinton’s warning on Tulsi Gabbard

Last week’s blast of Trump White House lies falsely claiming that House hearings on impeachment were unconstitutional was topped off by the president’s vulgar claim to be a victim of “lynching,” and calling GOP critics “human scum.”

And that was before he sent GOP congressmen to bumrush closed Capitol Hill testimony about his corruption.

This trashy, reality show version of politics is intended to make us all dizzy and distracted.

{mosads}Then the Drudge Report literally put Hillary Clinton in a Halloween witch’s hat as it joined other conservative social media sites in speculating on Clinton running for president in 2020.

Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former campaign CEO and White House chief strategist, got this far-right fantasy going in late September by predicting that Clinton would run.

His suggestion is baseless.

But mocking the prospect of another Clinton campaign holds a double delight for pro-Trump audiences.

By bashing her, they also get to disparage the current field of Democrats. Bannon specifically pointed to the party’s front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden, as a weak candidate.

The reassuring message here for Trump’s fans is that the current crop of Democrats is even less likely to defeat Trump than was Clinton.

Polling shows that is false. But the president and his supporters dismiss polls even as they consistently show Biden beating Trump.

Inside the conservative bubble of fantasy politics, the game extends to generating fake social media support for fringe candidates for the Democratic nomination, including Marianne Williamson, Andrew Yang and, most of all, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

Gabbard has about 1 percent support among Democrats for the party’s presidential nomination, according to the RealClearPolitics national polling average.

But Gabbard is literally referred to as “mommy” by far-right conspiracy theorists who champion her as a victim of the Democratic Party establishment.

At the moment, Gabbard is the star on far-right websites because Clinton correctly pointed out the Hawaii congresswoman could end up as a third-party candidate who divides the anti-Trump vote in 2020 and delivers a second term to the president.

During a podcast, Clinton contended Gabbard was being groomed “to be the third-party candidate. … They have a bunch of sites and bots and ways of supporting her. … She’s also a Russian asset.”

Clinton then reiterated: “Yeah, she’s a Russian asset. I mean, totally.”

Instead of responding to the real threat another third-party candidate poses to Democrats, Gabbard lashed out at Clinton as the “queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long.”

Amid all this, there was confusion over whether Clinton had meant that the people grooming Gabbard were Republicans or Russians. But the idea of Russian backing is hardly far-fetched.

In 2016, Russian trolls and bots promoted the third-party candidacy of Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate whose vote totals in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were big enough to argue she deprived Clinton of just enough support to hand victory to Trump.

Of course, right-wing websites and radio shows ignored that reality while elevating the intramural fight among Democrats.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) fed the frenzy by tweeting last week that “it is outrageous for anyone to suggest that Tulsi is a foreign asset.”

Sanders owes Gabbard from the 2016 race. Gabbard resigned as a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2016 to endorse Sanders.

Gabbard, with her sympathy for the Assad regime in Syria, as well as her defense of WikiLeaks’ decision to release emails from the Democratic National Committee in 2016 — reportedly hacked by the Russians — and willingness to attack fellow Democrats make her an ideal candidate for use by the Russians.

Trump loyalists saw potential in Gabbard in 2016.

Bannon arranged for her to have a face-to-face meeting with Trump to have her considered for a post in the administration, possibly as ambassador to the United Nations.

Trump supporters promote her constantly.

{mossecondads}“On podcasts and online videos, in interviews and Twitter feeds, alt-right internet stars, white nationalists, libertarian activist and some of the biggest boosters of Mr. Trump heap praise on Ms. Gabbard,” The New York Times reported two weeks ago.

The paper explained that anti-Semites “fawn” over Gabbard, “praising her willingness to criticize Israel.”

And the story noted that earlier this year “the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, took credit for Ms. Gabbard’s qualification for the first two Democratic primary debates.”

Much of the pro-Trump internet backing of Gabbard is due to “the Hawaiian congresswoman’s isolationist foreign policy views. They like her support for drug decriminalization. They like what she sees as censorship by big technology platforms,” according to the Times.

Gabbard has pledged that she will not be a third-party candidate.

But she plans to take whatever delegate support she wins in the primaries to the Democratic convention to pressure the nominee to hear her agenda for the party.

That means another possible split within the party with the telegenic Gabbard ready to diminish Democrats as captives of establishment politics — divided and out of touch with the base of the party.

Why would the Russians have an interest in her?

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

Tags 2020 Democratic primaries Andrew Yang Bernie Sanders Disinformation Donald Trump Drudge foreign interference Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Marianne Williamson Russian interference Social media Steve Bannon Tulsi Gabbard

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