Tulsi Gabbard: America’s surfing politician
Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii’s second congressional district is a lot of firsts: First American Samoan member of the United States Congress, as well as the first Hindu and first female combat veteran to hold the post. She may even be the first in Congress to meet India’s new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, though I really don’t know that. Is she also the first surfer in the national legislature?
Gabbard caught flack recently for missing a hearing on veterans care so she could continue surfing at Waikiki. Of course the media likes to spin things with headlines suggesting she dissed veterans to have fun and be some kind of tofu-eating, dreamy beach bum (yeah, she’s also a vegetarian).
As a veteran herself, it admittedly looks bad that she missed a Senate hearing on the VA crisis — a topic she’s been active on and something profit-driven wars apparently don’t pay for. Unfortunately the nature of American politics means that elected officials have to spend most of their time doing publicity and raising money for the next election, so Tulsi was doing a profile for Yahoo News, which featured her surfing Waikiki’s waves. Clips of Gabbard surfing have also been used in a campaign fundraising spot.
Her press secretary eventually issued the following statement:
Unfortunately, due to the Yahoo News crew getting stuck in rush hour traffic, Congresswoman Gabbard’s interview with Yahoo News started and ended late. This led to her being so behind schedule that she wouldn’t have been able to get to Senator Hirono’s hearing until near the end. Once Congresswoman Gabbard realized how late she would be, she decided not to go because she felt it would have been disruptive and disrespectful to just show up at the end.
However miscalculated the Yahoo News spot was, the Congresswoman Gabbard did address veterans issues in the interview, besides surfing and eating a snow cone. Tulsi states that the “entire VA bureaucracy needs to be overhauled and completely reworked.”
She also makes a point vis-à-vis the environment, by connecting her appreciation of the ocean through surfing with the need to protect Hawaii’s nature.
Check the interview out for yourself:
lead image: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal