Cindi’s column: ‘The two sides of Nikki Haley’

Just thought I’d bring to your attention Cindi Scoppe’s calm, rational, even-handed take on the Nikki Haleys we have come to know — the appealing, breath-of-fresh-air neophyte lawmaker (vestiges of whom we still see today) and the demagogic ideologue seeking to carry the Mark Sanford banner into South Carolina’s future (which we see far too much of these days).

The value in reading Cindi’s column is that it is rich in specifics, listing Nikki’s positions on quite a number of issues. That’s something you don’t get so much from me. I form a holistic impression of a candidate or an issue, and hold forth on the conclusions I’ve reached. Cindi shares her reporting, point by point. When we went into an editorial board meeting with a candidate, Cindi would have a list of specific questions, so that she could test the candidate against specific positions that we held. I would ask the candidate to start talking (telling us whatever he or she deemed most important), and I would ask questions suggested by what I heard. It made for good teamwork. Cindi made sure we touched all the important bases; I explored unanticipated territory to learn things we would not have learned taking the purely task-oriented approach.

So it is that I think it’s valuable for you, the wise reader, to set my own rambling gestalten observations beside Cindi’s businesslike approach as you move along your own journey in making up your mind about Nikki Haley.

So, without violating Fair Use (I hope), I invite you to go read Cindi’s entire column, which goes from the good…

… She is charming, engaging and smart. She is refreshingly passionate and energetic and not about to put up with the games at the State House. She can explain problems in a way to get voters fired up (“It’s just wrong; it’s wrong all day long,” she says of school administrators’ opposition to a bill that would cost them money by jerking the junk food out of schools). That’s no small thing in a state as apathetic as ours.

She’s all about comprehensive reform — of the tax code, of the executive branch of government, of the school funding system — and her support for those vital changes predates her campaign, and seems far more heartfelt than her GOP opponents….

… to the bad…

… These relatively minor misrepresentations are merely the ones that jumped out at me in a single meeting with our board, and this pattern is disturbingly similar to Mr. Sanford’s signature approach: Take a legitimate problem that’s a bit too complicated or wonky to appeal to the masses, and tart it up to make it look like something it’s not.

Ms. Haley is rigidly ideological. All the Republican candidates support taxpayer-funded “choice” for private schools, but only she would veto a bill expanding public school choice if it didn’t help prop up private schools. All opposed the federal stimulus, but only she opposed accepting the money that we’re on the hook to pay for regardless, because doing so blew the “opportunity” to force the Legislature to make structural reforms….

… to this conclusion:

…When I first met Ms. Haley in 2004, I found her a bit green. But she clearly had a good head on her shoulders and was one of the best new candidates we met that year. As I wrote in our first endorsement of her, she was “so focused on keeping an open mind and being persuaded by facts rather than personality, preconceived notions and party dogma that she’s bound to make smart choices,” and “what she calls a business-like approach strikes us as merely a commonsense, proactive approach that people of any political persuasion should be able to take for granted.”

I wish the Nikki Haley who’s running for governor reminded me more of that person and less of Mark Sanford….

2 thoughts on “Cindi’s column: ‘The two sides of Nikki Haley’

  1. Matt

    Does The State post video of these endorsement interviews on their website? I was wondering because I thought some newspapers choose to do that. After reading Scoppe’s piece I am only left with more questions and would like to see everything in context.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    Do you think Jenny Sanford’s hand is behind the morphing of Nikki into Mark?

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