Hoo boy: Tulsi Gabbard to introduce resolution that would censure Trump over Ukraine

This has got to be a prelude to her voting no on impeachment, right? Gabbard’s the only true undecided Democrat left on the board. Her unique political position as a leftist with more of a following on the right than within her own party has placed her at a political crossroads, particularly now that she’s retiring from Congress. From a standpoint of pure self-interest, it’d make sense for her to oppose impeachment, signaling her formal alliance with Trump.

But she’d be dead forever to progressives, most of whose policy preferences she claims to share. Big decision coming up!

There’s nothing in this story that claims she’s set to vote against impeachment but I don’t know why else she’d offer a censure resolution at this late hour. The idea, presumably, is so that Gabbard can say later, “I was uncomfortable with what the president did but I’m also uncomfortable with a sanction as draconian and divisive as impeachment, a point I made even before the impeachment inquiry began. I tried to meet my fellow Democrats in the middle with censure. They refused, leaving me no choice. Sadly, I must vote no on impeachment.”

She might as well formally re-register as an independent when she does. And maybe that’s the idea.

According to a press release of the measure sent to ABC News ahead of it being introduced, the resolution seeks to:

“(1) Censure President Donald J. Trump for actions taken by the President as outlined in this Resolution, which constitute a willful abuse of power.”

“(2) Censure President Donald J. Trump for putting his personal political interests before those of the American people in a manner that undermines the integrity of the United States democratic process.”

“(3) Call on President Donald J. Trump to refrain from any conduct that invites foreign interference in United States elections or undermines United States Government investigations into foreign interference.”…

“(6) Call on President Donald J. Trump to acknowledge and admit wrongdoing as outlined in this Resolution and apologize to the American people.

Pelosi’s not going to put that on the floor for a vote. Why should she? Everyone else in the caucus is committed to impeachment; the only person who’d benefit is Gabbard herself, and why should Pelosi do any favors for the most Fox-friendly member of her caucus? Tulsi’s going to have to decide on impeachment. And I get the sense that her decision is already made.

Steve Bannon, a longstanding admirer of Gabbard’s brand of anti-war populism, warned her this week not to vote to impeach or else she’s finished on the American right:

To Bannon, she’s “queen of the incels.”

Bannon notes that she needs to vote against impeachment “if she’s to have a future in the Trump movement because she and Yang are very Trumpian particularly on national security and foreign policy.”

Adding, “If she votes to impeach, she is formally done with the Deplorables. [They will] cut her loose.”

Miller adds: “If she votes or impeachment there is no road to redemption, there is no hey I’m good on some foreign policy things. She’s basically saying I want a life in the Democratic party.”

I’m surprised she wants to try to split the baby by voting on censure instead of just declaring herself opposed to impeachment and embracing the right wholeheartedly. Who is the censure measure supposed to please? Lefties will hate her for her impeachment vote and righties will be at least a little annoyed with her for concluding that Trump did wrong and owes America an apology. This is why I think she’s about to declare herself an independent (after the New Hampshire primary, of course): The “censure but don’t impeach” play only makes sense as a ploy to position oneself as a centrist who’s destined to disappoint both parties with her uncompromising common sense. If she opposes impeachment without supporting censure then she’s just a right-wing Trump shill. If she opposes impeachment but seeks censure then she’s an interesting maverick who charts her own political path.

Exit question: Why didn’t Gabbard just follow the Jeff Van Drew playbook and become a Republican? The GOP base would have gone wild to see its favorite Democrat — a 2020 candidate, no less — join the party in protest of impeachment. If Trump was twisting Jeff Van Drew’s and Collin Peterson’s arms this week, he must have twisted Tulsi’s. Did she feel obliged to stick with the Dems for now because of that whole “running for the Democratic nomination for president” thing? Or was Hillary right all along that Gabbard is eyeing a Jill-Stein-ish third-party run next year and she can only pull that off if she’s an independent, not a Republican?