- It will be interesting to see if she will retain her popularity among a section of Indian Americans in her new avatar as a Trump-hugging rightwing rabble-rouser.
Tulsi Gabbard has finally arrived at the spot she has been eyeing since the time she realized her political future though the elective office is over — Fox News. The former member of U.S. Congress from Hawaii and the first Hindu American in Congress, has been a fixture on Fox News, attacking Democrats since long before she left its ranks. And on Friday, Aug. 12, she guest hosted Tucker Carlson Tonight, the highest-rated primetime show on Fox News, which garners nearly 3 million viewers every weeknight.
It remains to be seen if the guest-hosting is an audition for a regular gig on the right-wing news network, marking her long ideological departure from the time she endorsed Bernie Sanders in the race for the presidential nomination in 2016.
Staying true to Tucker Carlson’s talking points, Gabbard accused the Biden administration of “weaponizing” the Justice Department and the FBI, for partisan political ends. She was obviously addressing the search and seizure operation earlier in the week at former president Trump’s residence in Florida.
In her opening statement, Gabbard talked about the “dangerous new course” that the Democrats, who apparently represent “permanent Washington” (whatever that is), have set where the “rule of law no longer exists.” She characterized Attorney General Merrick Garland’s defense of the Justice Department and its actions at Mar-a-Lago as “hallmarks of dictatorship,” where “you are not allowed to disagree with the FBI.”
That’s a far cry from less than two years ago when she endorsed Joe Biden for President saying, “I am confident that he will lead our country, guided by the spirit of aloha.” Gabbard obliquely attacked Trump saying that Biden would “heal the division that has been tearing our country apart.”
On Friday, Gabbard also critiqued President Biden’s support for the war in Ukraine blaming him for its continuation through sanctions against Russia. For someone who has been a member of the National Guard with several deployments to her credit, Gabbard certainly has a soft corner for Russian President Putin — she was, much to the chagrin of the State Department, supportive of President Assad of Syria and Russian operations in the civil war there. Perhaps, it is not surprising that she finds favor in Carlson, who is loath to shed his support for the autocrat in the Kremlin.
Gabbard’s rightward move may be inexplicable but was not unexpected. She had been at the loggerheads with the leadership of the Democratic party since the Obama administration, and openly waged a campaign against the Democratic National Committee during her brief run for the presidential nomination in 2016. She was particularly acerbic in her criticism of Hillary Clinton (she also launched a bitter attack against Sen. Kamala Harris during a primary debate in 2019).
Commenting on Gabbard, who was a featured speaker at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, The Rolling Stone said she “is completing her metamorphosis from iconoclast progressive to hardcore conservative.” Although she once called Trump “unfit to serve,” she abstained from voting on his impeachment following the January 6 Capitol insurrection (she voted “present” in Trump’s first impeachment). But now, she is trying to entrench herself firmly in the Trump camp by, as Rolling Stone put it, “building buzz for the 45th president along with Marjorie Taylor Greene.”
It will be interesting to see if Gabbard, who has a sizable following among those who identify themselves as Hindu Americans, and who have been dependable contributors to her political coffers, will retain her appeal in her new avatar as a Trump-hugging rightwing rabble-rouser.