With the world so upside down these days, almost nothing seems surprising anymore. But most people were caught off guard this morning when Tulsi Gabbard dropped out of the 2020 presidential race and endorsed Joe Biden. I didn’t see it coming either. But I think I can logically parse why it did happen – and it points to something bigger potentially happening soon.
The past five years of Tulsi Gabbard’s career have been a bizarre odyssey. In 2015 she resigned from her role as a DNC official, citing a nonsensical phony DNC conspiracy against Bernie Sanders. She seemed to think it would ignite her career. Instead it turned her into a pariah – not because she endorsed Sanders, but because she set off that absurd wave of increasingly asinine conspiracy theories about the DNC that’s causing problems for party unity today.
Gabbard must have concluded she was going to get primaried out of her House seat in 2020, so she gave up on the House and ran for president instead. But that went nowhere at all. At this point her political career is at a dead end. If she were truly some kind of chaos agent, now would be the time for her to self destruct and take as many people with her as possible. Instead, it now appears she’s trying to find her way out of this dead end and salvage something out of her career.
By dropping out and endorsing Joe Biden, Gabbard is apparently trying to make amends with a party that she’s essentially been at war with for the past five years. It’s hard to imagine that this endorsement will land her a job in a Biden administration – or at least not a high ranking one – considering how despised and distrusted she is within the party. But perhaps she’s seeking to land a job on cable news, and she wants to establish herself as an anti-Trump pundit before transitioning into that job.
Tulsi Gabbard’s endorsement of Joe Biden may or may not do much for either one of them, considering she was polling near zero, and he’s already landed numerous far more important endorsements. But the timing may be the real story here. With Gabbard having decided to go down the unity road, she surely wanted to make it happen while it still counted for anything. If she waited until after Bernie Sanders dropped out and endorsed Biden, it would be truly too late for her endorsement to matter.
Last night Palmer Report pointed out that Bernie Sanders had effectively suspended his campaign by removing the donation link from his emails to supporters; when a campaign stops bringing money in, it’s not really a campaign. Then there was last night’s Washington Post article about the Sanders and Biden campaigns having been talking about things for the past week.
Perhaps Tulsi Gabbard saw the same evidence trail that we did, and she realized her time may be short for making a move. If she asked Bernie Sanders whether he was dropping out, and he said “yes” or even “maybe,” she would have taken that as a sign that she needed to make her move right now. So Gabbard’s endorsement can potentially be taken as a sign that Sanders could drop out and endorse Biden soon. That may sound too optimistic. But yesterday it would have sounded way too optimistic to suggest that Gabbard would drop out today and endorse Biden, so who knows?
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report