Though Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is a rising star within the Democratic Party, ultimately endorsed Hillary Clinton for president (after first endorsing Bernie Sanders, of course) and easily won reelection this year, she’s been ominously quiet on the issue of President-elect Donald Trump’s appalling appointees and nominations. Most notably, her signature did NOT appear with 169 of her colleagues in the House of Representatives on a Nov. 16 letter to Trump denouncing his nomination of notorious white nationalist Stephen Bannon to be his “chief strategist” (this Mother Jones profile explains in nauseating detail how Bannon has long championed white supremacists).
“Since the election there have been a number of incidents across the country in which minorities, including Muslim Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Jewish Americans, have been the targets of violence, harassment and intimidation,” states the letter. “Mr. Bannon’s appointment sends the wrong message to people who have engaged in those types of activities, indicating that they will not only be tolerated, but endorsed by your Administration. Millions of Americans have expressed fear and concern about how they will be treated by the Trump Administration and your appointment of Mr. Bannon only exacerbates and validates their concerns.”
That Gabbard wouldn’t sign such a letter is remarkable (though Democrat Colleen Hanabusa just took office to replace the late Mark Takai as 1st District Representative, she signed the letter, according to this printed list of all the signees compiled by The Boston Globe). Though Gabbard’s view on Bannon’s appointment isn’t publicly known, what is known is that Bannon seems to like Gabbard. In fact, according to this Nov. 15 article in The Hill, Bannon is a “big fan” of Gabbard.
“Bannon admires what Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have done on the left in generating populist energy and stoking opposition to trade deals,” states The Hill article. “And he’s a big fan of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the Hawaii Democrat who frustrates progressives due to her more right-leaning stances on guns, refugees and Islamic extremism.”
This morning I left phone messages with two of Gabbard’s staff members who handle press relations, and sent two emails as well, but have yet to hear back. When I hear more I’ll update this post.
Photo of Rep. Gabbard courtesy U.S. House of Representatives