If Tulsi Gabbard Wants To Ride One Of Devin Nunes's Cows, She Should Just Ask
Has Tulsi Gabbard been sniffing Denin Nunes's cowpies? Because her defamation lawsuit against Hillary Clinton for ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS is a load of hot bullshit. As is the one she filed against Google in July demanding $50 million for "send[ing] communications from Tulsi into people's Spam folders at a disproportionately high rate." And while it is the policy of this particular writer never to slag any Democratic candidate during the primary, for Tulsi I will make an exception.
Just look at this garbage.
Tulsi Gabbard is running for President of the United States, a position Clinton has long coveted, but has not been able to attain. In October 2019—whether out of personal animus, political enmity, or fear of real change within a political party Clinton and her allies have long dominated—Clinton lied about her perceived rival Tulsi Gabbard. She did so publicly, unambiguously, and with obvious malicious intent. Tulsi has been harmed by Clinton's lies—and American democracy has suffered as well.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but what the fuck is she talking about? Gabbard repeatedly refers to Clinton as her "political and personal rival," despite the fact that Clinton isn't running for office. Is Tulsi putting the moves on Bill Clinton? Because, Ma'am, this ain't an Arby's, it's a federal tort claim, and a shit one at that.
Assuming this isn't simply the worst come on ever, it appears that Gabbard thinks Hillary Clinton has been nursing a grudge since Tulsi endorsed Bernie Sanders four years ago and has seized upon this moment to exact her revenge.
Tulsi has put the country's needs above all else—even when it means hurting her political career. For example, in February 2016, Tulsi believed the best Democratic presidential candidate for our country was Senator Bernie Sanders. She also knew that Clinton had a stranglehold over the Democratic party and that crossing Clinton (who considered herself the "inevitable nominee") could mean the end of her own political career.
Clinton—a cutthroat politician by any account—has never forgotten this perceived slight.
So when Clinton noted Russia's preference for Gabbard, it wasn't an observation based on multiple media reports of suspicious bot networks boosting her on social media or her frequent, positive mentions on Russian television, it was REVENGE. And that's why she told former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe during an October 17, 2019, interview on his Campaign HQ podcast that:
I'm not making any predictions, but I think they've got their eye on someone who's currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She's the favorite of the Russians.
That's assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she's also a Russian asset. Yeah, she's a Russian asset—I mean, totally.
They know they can't win without a third-party candidate, so I don't know who it's going to be, but I will guarantee you they will have a vigorous third-party challenge in the key states where they are most needed.
It's not clear whether Clinton was describing just Jill Stein as a Russian asset, or both Stein and Gabbard. Indeed, Clinton never mentioned Gabbard by name, although a rational person might well infer that she was "the favorite of the Russians." Particularly if that rational person had read the New York Times story five days earlier about support for Gabbard from both Russian media and the regular cast of Trumpland shit-stirrers -- Bannon, Cernovich, Tucker Carlson -- looking to peel off dissatisfied Democratic voters.
"If the nesting doll fits," Clinton's spokesman Nick Merrill told reporters when asked about the comment. "This is not some outlandish claim. This is reality."
But reality is not where Tulsi Gabbard lives. So she insists that Clinton was making "serious charges against Tulsi: that Tulsi is a tool of, and perhaps an agent of, the United States's geopolitical rival Russia." Which conveniently elides the difference between a knowing "agent" of a foreign power and an "asset," who is someone useful to that foreign power who may or may not know she is being used. Or as retired Senior CIA Intelligence Service Officer John Sipher wrote at Just Security:
The Russians – like the Soviets before them – generally have a much larger stable of assets. They utilize fellow travelers, terrorists, and members of fringe groups as well as maintaining friendships with people who either knowingly or unknowingly accept their propaganda. They call these people "useful idiots."
Yes, perhaps it would have been more accurate for Clinton to call Gabbard a "useful idiot." Because a third-party run by Gabbard might well accomplish the Kremlin's goal of getting Trump re-elected, plus she's dumb as shit. And she thinks you are, too!
"Scientifically conducted opinion surveys have shown that Clinton's false, malicious statements about Tulsi were accepted as true by millions of Americans, including large numbers of voters in battleground Presidential primary states," she claims, without citation, hoping that you won't go to FiveThirtyEight.com's polltracker and see that her numbers actually rose in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida in the two weeks after Clinton's dastardly attack. (Not that it would matter, since she's polling at less than three percent in all of them.)
Ditto for her claim that "The Defamatory Statements have caused Tulsi to lose potential donors and potential voters who heard the Defamatory Statements." In fact, Gabbard raised $3.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, a 14 percent improvement over the prior reporting period.
As a direct and proximate result of Clinton's intentional and malicious misconduct, Tulsi has suffered anguish and damage to her reputation, with direct and substantial injury to her positions as United States Congresswoman; Presidential candidate; and officer in the Army National Guard.
Riiiight. Well, leaving aside the fact that Gabbard has already said she's not running for her House seat again, never polled nationally above three percent, and made no actual claim of damages, we have our doubts. And we note that her standing with Democrats really took a hit after she voted "present" on Trump's impeachment in December.
But those are just picayune details. As is the actual malice defamation standard for a public figure, which Gabbard waves off by asserting that, "Actual malice is further demonstrated by the Defamatory Statements' inherent improbability." Done, and done! Here on Planet Earth, calling someone a "Russian asset" is a subjective evaluation of how much Russia likes the candidate, an evaluation that might well be deduced from all the positive coverage she gets in Russian state-controlled media.
As Ken White (AKA @Popehat) told Josh Barro on their All the President's Lawyers podcast, "Hyperbole, figures of speech, heated rhetoric, particularly in the political arena, are not provably false statements of fact. This type of talk where you're describing a political opponent is probably where First Amendment protections are at their very peak," later adding, "The point isn't actually to get the $50 million she says she wants, which she's never going to get in a million years. The point is to rile up her base."
Make that $100 million: "Tulsi has been harmed by Clinton's lies—and American democracy has suffered as well," so please award her actual damages of "$50 million -- and counting" plus an additional $50 million in "special and punitive damages in view of Clinton's malicious and unrepentant conduct."
Haha, piss off, troll.
That train is never late.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.