"What do you say to Democratic voters who watched you go over there, and what do you say to military members who have been deployed repeatedly in Syria pushing back against Assad?" Hunt asked Gabbard Wednesday. The question followed Gabbard's rejection of Hunt's idea that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is an enemy of the United States.
So, since when have US troops been "pushing back against Assad" in Syria? Last we checked, US troops were in eastern Syria in support of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces fighting against Daesh, which is the mutual enemy of the US, the Kurds and Assad. When Trump announced US troops were being withdrawn, he justified it by saying Daesh has been defeated — and indeed it has, being restricted to only two small villages on the Euphrates River, near the Syrian border with Iraq.
"People who have been deployed to Syria have been there focused on their mission, which has been to defeat ISIS [Daesh]," Gabbard replied, keeping her cool. "Our troops have not gone to Syria to wage yet another costly, destructive regime change war, and many troops I hear from express frustration at the fact that our country continues to wage senseless, costly regime change wars followed by nation building missions leading to situations like we see in Afghanistan. So many examples of our troops being deployed, their lives put on the line without understanding what the clear mission or objective is and how that mission actually serves the security of the American people in the United States."
Gabbard's anti-interventionism has incensed many a liberal since her January 2017 trip to Syria, on which she met Assad, and those attacks have only multiplied since she announced her presidential candidacy last month.
"I have seen this cost of war firsthand, which is why I fight so hard for peace," Gabbard told CNN correspondent Jake Tapper following the 2017 meeting. "And that's the reality of the situation that we're facing here. It's why I have urged and continue to urge [US President Donald] Trump to meet with people like Kim Jong-un in North Korea, because we understand what's at stake here. The only alternative to having these kinds of conversations is more war."
Wednesday, the topic came up once more, and as Gabbard defended the meeting, Hunt leaped on the attack, asking, "Do you think Assad is our enemy?"
"Assad is not the enemy of the United States, because Syria does not pose a direct threat to the United States," the representative replied.
Now, MSNBC has made little secret of its support for US intervention in Syria. After Trump launched his first salvo against the Syrian government in April of 2017, MSNBC's Brian Williams could hardly contain his lust for "the beauty of our weapons" as he watched footage of cruise missiles being launched from US ships in the Mediterranean against the Syrian army's Shayrat Air Base in Homs.
More recently, "Morning Joe" co-host Joe Scarborough referred to Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria late last year as an "early Christmas present to Vladimir Putin and Russia."
This is the context in which Hunt posed her nonsense retort to Gabbard's response.
Of course, this wasn't the last time during Wednesday's show that the co-hosts tried to corner Gabbard and get her to say something incriminating about Assad in the minds of the liberal base she hopes to win over, but at least nobody claimed anything as outrageous as that the US was fighting pro-Damascus forces directly.