Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, and Russian Propaganda

Tulsi Gabbard may have ended Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign on Wednesday night. The Hawaii congresswoman tore through Harris’ “tough as nails prosecutor” shtick when she attacked the California senator’s record as Attorney General of that state and when added to Harris’ multiple flip-flops on health care and busing, Gabbard (and Joe Biden) exposed Harris as a politician with no fixed principles. Even John Kerry is getting dizzy from all the flip-flopping.

Team Harris knew they had a bad night and that Gabbard was the primary reason. Gabbard’s attack on Harris’ record as AG of California was the viral moment of the second night, so in the post-debate Team Harris went on the attack. Harris herself went after Gabbard, calling herself “a top-tier candidate” while dismissing Gabbard as an “apologist” for Syrian mass-murdering dictator Bashar al-Assad who is at zero or one percent in the polls. Her press secretary Ian Sams tweeted out an NBC article from February that stated that Gabbard is the beneficiary of the same “Russian propaganda machine that tried to influence the 2016 U.S. election.” According to, The Hill Sams was responding to a hashtag, #KamalaHarrisDestroyed, that trended on Twitter, but Twitter denied that the hashtag trended due to foreign bots.

The Harris campaign strategy is clear: shift the conversation from Harris’ lousy debate performance to Tulsi Gabbard and her, let’s just say “unorthodox,” foreign policy. Now, Tulsi Gabbard is an Assad apologist and of all the politicos who paint foreign policy as a false dichotomy between peace and war, she is by far the worse. She uses her military service as a way not only to shield herself from criticism of her radical views, but to claim if you disagree with her on anything, you are indifferent to dead troops and are pushing the world towards nuclear war. There is no nuance to foreign policy when talking with Tulsi Gabbard. It would also be incredibly naive to think that she would not be the beneficiary of Russian mischief online. But what does any of this have to do with Harris’ tenure as Attorney General of California?

This should lead to a discussion on how we, the general public, not lawmakers or the intelligence community, should deal with Russian meddling in our political system. We are correctly told that Vladimir Putin wants to sow chaos in our system, so what have we done as a result? We have freaked out to the point where it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If Tulsi Gabbard or Donald Trump have a political win, we can’t just admit that Tulsi Gabbard beat Kamala Harris or Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton, it has to be because of the Russians. It couldn’t possibly be that Harris and Clinton are not nearly as good at running for president as some thought they were or that Trump and Gabbard can be right about some things or that people could agree with them about non-Russia related matters.

Which brings us back to that self-fulfilling prophecy of creating divisions in American political life. Whose fault is it that fake news and conspiracy theories thrive? Whose fault is that our political divisions have led us to hate each other? It is not Putin’s, it’s not Trump’s, and it’s not Gabbard’s. As Walt Kelly parodied Oliver Hazard Perry, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

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Writing about politics and other interesting things. Contributing Writer to NewsBusters. Member of YAF’s National Journalism Center’s Spring 2019 class.

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Alex Christy

Alex Christy

Writing about politics and other interesting things. Contributing Writer to NewsBusters. Member of YAF’s National Journalism Center’s Spring 2019 class.

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