Perhaps I was too quick the other day to criticize Hillary Clinton for her claim that both Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein were Russian assets. There is much documented on Gabbard’s policy positions that are favorable to Russia, as well as Jill Stein’s cooperative relationship with Putin. Most likely, each were not consensual assets. They may not have considered themselves assets at all, but that does not mean that Russia did not consider them to be so, as they may have been considered useful idiots.
Much of Gabbard’s policies are supported by various right wing media and politicians as well as Russia itself—Steve Bannon, The Klan, David Duke, Fox News, Tucker Carlson among them. Jill Stein cannot be blamed entirely for Hillary’s defeat, but she certainly shared in it. Hillary’s blunders notwithstanding, as a third party candidate, she may have peeled off enough votes in critical states to have made a difference.
While Gabbard has declared that she will not run as an independent third party candidate, her entry into democratic presidential primary politics certainly muddies the waters and whether aware of it or not, Russian bots and trolls are already hard at work sowing divisiveness in the process, perhaps pulling votes from more viable, electable candidates and tipping the scales, however small, away from those unfavorable to them. So in that regard, Hillary was not wrong, just a little too eager in overstating what should have been a more nuanced observation. One has to ask, “just why is Tulsi Gabbard in this race, a race she has no hope of winning?”