Remember when dissent was the highest form of patriotism? That’s been considered passé in the Age of Obama, but one might have hoped the situation might improve as the President’s retirement drew nigh. Instead, Debbie Wasserman Schultz stands ready to defend the anointed from ankle-biters that want to improve accountability and transparency, even apart from Obama, the NYT’s Maggie Haberman reports:
Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said she was disinvited from the first Democratic presidential primary debate in Nevada after she appeared on television and called for more face-offs.
Ms. Gabbard confirmed on Sunday that her chief of staff received a message last Tuesday from the chief of staff to Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the national committee, about her attendance at the debate. A day earlier, Ms. Gabbard had appeared on MSNBC and said there should be an increase beyond the current six sanctioned debates.
A person close to the committee who asked for anonymity to discuss internal discussions insisted, however, that Ms. Gabbard had not been disinvited. Instead, the person said, an aide to Ms. Wasserman Schultz expressed a desire to keep the focus on the candidates as the debate approached, rather than on a “distraction” that could divide the party, and suggested that if Ms. Gabbard could not do that, she should reconsider going.
Ms. Gabbard insisted otherwise.
I don’t think that a “keep your mouth shut or find something else to do” message lets Wasserman Schultz off the hook. That may not technically be a disinvitation, but an ultimatum for silence is effectively the same action. “Shut up or leave” hardly welcomes debate and discussion, which is ironic considering that Gabbard is defending the expansion of both. Democrats apparently want as much unanimity and insularity for its front-runner as it can possibly muster.
How exactly will this work, anyway? Wasserman Schultz is the DNC chair, but she’s not Gabbard’s employer. Gabbard got the vice chair position for the DNC’s political benefit, presumably as a sop to national-security moderates in their caucus. Will Wasserman Schultz pull Gabbard’s credential if she keeps talking about needing more debates? What will the members of the House Democratic caucus react to that if she does?
Bernie Sanders’ campaign has an answer for that already:
If Rep. Tulsi Gabbard needs a ticket to Tuesday night’s Democratic debate — Bernie Sanders has her covered.
That was the message of Sanders’ campaign manager on Monday, responding to a report that the Hawaii Democrat had been uninvited from attending the debate by the Democratic National Committee.
“If she needs a ticket, have her give me a call,” Jeff Weaver said on CNN’s “New Day” on Monday. “I think we have a couple; we can give her one.”
If Wasserman Schultz wants to bar dissent from the DNC, why bother to hold a debate at all? Better yet, why bother to conduct primaries? Just arrange for a Hillary coronation conducted at either a union hall or a Planned Parenthood clinic and get it over with. That’ll shut people up, I’m certain.