In a matter of hours, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) will officially enter the 2020 presidential race.
At 3pm Hawaiian time (8pm Eastern / 5pm Pacific), Gabbard will hold her first campaign rally in Waikiki and officially kick-off her campaign to become the first female President of the United States.
While Gabbard is just one in a mushrooming crowd of Democratic contenders, she is one of the most popular on the left wing of the party -- perhaps second only to Bernie Sanders.
Over recent months, Gabbard has gained increasing media attention. She recently appeared on the popular podcast the Joe Rogan Experience where she received favorable treatment, and later revealed her intent to run for president on CNN'S Van Jones Show.
In some ways, Gabbard has always been viewed as a rising star in the Democratic Party. Thanks to her unique experience as a female Iraq War veteran, she was featured in high-profile news pieces ever since joining Congress in 2013.
Things may have changed slightly, however, following her resignation from the DNC Vice Chair position in 2016 for the purpose of supporting Sanders over Hillary Clinton. Given the competitiveness of the primaries and Gabbard's timing, this was seen as a big move that had the potential to damage Clinton. According to Gabbard, she was even "warned" against doing this at the time.
Nevertheless, Gabbard has remained popular enough among the party's base to give her a realistic shot at challenging Donald Trump for the White House in 2020.
As might be expected, however, Gabbard also has acquired many vocal opponents. Some criticism against Gabbard is completely legitimate -- notably in response to her criticism of the LGBTQ community in the early 2000s. At the same time, however, she has also been rebuked by establishment figures for her anti-interventionist foreign policy and willingness to meet with "hostile" regimes.
Following Gabbard's appearance on Joe Rogan's podcast, New York Times columnist Bari Weiss also appeared on Rogan's show where she condemned Gabbard as an Assad "toadie" [sic], but was unable to effectively / coherently explain why -- then again, why should a NYT columnist be able to do this, or correctly spell, or even be able to define "toadie"?
Likewise, over recent years Gabbard has repeatedly been attacked both on air for wanting to see evidence of a "gas attack" in Syria and in-print for being "Assad's mouthpiece" because -- as a member of the United States Congress, mind you -- she dared to visit Syria.
Gabbard has incurred similar ridicule from the corporate wing of the Democratic Party for years. The fact that Gabbard is a combat vet has not given her critics pause as they seem to repeatedly question her patriotism. Recently coming out against US involvement in Venezuela has only continued to antagonize neocons in both parties.
Consequently, only hours before Gabbard's official announcement, NBC News published a piece alleging that Russia is supporting her campaign.
According to the article, "Several experts who track websites and social media linked to the Kremlin have also seen what they believe may be the first stirrings of an upcoming Russian campaign of support for Gabbard."
The article makes comparisons between Gabbard's and former Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein. It goes on to allege that Gabbard's candidacy advances Kremlin interests:
"Her promulgation of positions compatible with Russian geo strategic interests can help them mainstream such discussion in the [Democratic] party," said Alex Stamos, former chief security officer at Facebook and now an NBC News analyst. Gabbard, said Stamos, helps them with all their "lines of attack."
Later in the article, Stamos is quoted again:
"We should expect the Russian intel services and troll farms to be active in the Democratic primary process," said Stamos, "as this provides them with the best opportunity to create the most division in American society in 2020."
As such, the stage is pretty much set for how we can expect the corporate media to cover Gabbard's campaign and how she will be treated in any debates that she will be allowed to participate in:
As has happened in previous eras, Gabbard's antiwar positions will be framed as aiding the enemy. Her military service will be minimized and her loyalty will be questioned. Her stances, and her general performance, will be viewed through the lens of "how is this helping Putin?"
Yet, as Gabbard begins her campaign for the Oval Office, one also has to wonder whether or not these tactics are really as reliable as they used to be. In a country tired of wars across the globe, perhaps voters are more inclined to listen to a candidate rather than the talking heads on television who are always, no matter what, cheerleading for the next great war.