Reports: Nikki Haley to call for flag to come down

Gov. Nikki Haley's official photo, in which she poses with the only two flags South Carolina needs.

Gov. Nikki Haley’s official photo, in which she poses with the only two flags South Carolina needs.

It’s now being reported, without attribution so far, that at a 4 p.m. press conference today, Nikki Haley will reveal that she is working on a plan to bring down the Confederate flag that flies on the State House grounds.

Her office, which announced the presser, is not confirming what it’s about.

If she does this, it will be a mountain-come-to-Mohammed moment. It will be the most sensational news conference in South Carolina since Mark Sanford returned from Argentina. But in a good way.

If Nikki Haley, of all people, steps out and leads on this, the chances of a real solution to this absurd five-decade-old insanity could finally be at hand. No, she has no power to do anything about the flag — directly. The Legislature, in its infinite foolishness, put the flying of the flag into law years ago, and only a two-thirds majority of both houses can bring it down.

But if the governor steps out and becomes the lightning rod on the issue, it will give the Republicans who run the State House the political cover to act. Very few of them seem to care about the flag one way or the other, but most of them live in fear of what could happen to them in a Republican primary if they step out and do the right thing.

The governor providing leadership on the flag would be just what they need to take the heat off them.

If the reports are true, this will be HUGE, and a wonderful moment in SC history.

As sudden and surprising as this will be, there would be good reasons for her to do this, from a pragmatic political position. Her electoral career in SC is over. If she has ambitions on the national level, this would be THE most powerful selling point she could have. As for her job right here and now, as a governor who has built her rep on economic development, there is no single thing she could do more likely to shout to business, “Locate HERE!”

But as easy as it is for me to say all that, for her it’s bound to be a hugely scary moment. So IF she’s really going to do this, she deserves full credit for stepping out.

We’ll see at 4…

22 thoughts on “Reports: Nikki Haley to call for flag to come down

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    My son Matt’s video from the flag rally is now being shared nationally through I wrote a brief commentary to go with it. They put this headline on it: “South Carolina Is Rallying To Take Down the Confederate Flag. This Time It Could Finally Happen.” They asked me whether that was OK. Well, I said the first part, but not the second.

    But I told them to go ahead. Because by the time they asked me, I had heard this rumor about Nikki. Which, if true, changes everything.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    “What lit the fire under this was the tragic death of my friend and his eight parishioners,” Mr. Brannon said. “It took my buddy’s death to get me to do this. I should feel ashamed of myself.”
    –Rep. Brannon , from the New York Times

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        I am proud of him, but I actually feel ashamed of myself that I haven’t done more–no should about it.

  3. Rose

    It’s a win-win politically for her. If she calls for it to come down and the legislature does nothing, then she’s a brave soul standing against the establishment. If they do bring it down, then she’s a great leader bringing the legislature around. Plays nicely for her national ambitions, yes, especially since she’s on her second term. I guess someone pointed that out to her.
    NO, her past sins are not forgiven. And there’s no way she’ll allow anyone else to share her spotlight. It didn’t take a horrible act of violence for Vincent to support its removal. He addressed that months ago.
    I have far more respect for Rep. Brannon’s plan to introduce legislation to take it down AND admit that he didn’t have the balls to do it previously until his friend was assassinated. He knows it’s political suicide for him.
    Regardless of my intense dislike of Haley, however, I hope the flag leaves the State House grounds.

    1. Laura Hart

      I agree with you, Rose. I cannot forget Nikki Haley’s pandering to some Southern rights group back in 2010 saying she would not act to help take the flag down and that she could convince businesses to look past the flag and do business with the state anyway. Brad posted a video of it on this website back then, which was very uncomfortable to watch. I will be glad if she changes her position, but she is not in the same class on this issue as Vincent Sheheen and others who have voiced opposition to the flag for years, not just months, but have not had the power to get it down.

  4. Bob Amundson

    Perhaps Governor Haley read Philip Klein’s Op-Ed in the Washington Examiner, “Why Conservatives Should Hate the Confederate Flag.”

    “The invocation of ‘states rights’ among those waving the Confederate flag while fighting for the evils of slavery and segregation has been devastating to the cause of limited government. Not only were the institutions themselves an affront to liberty, but in fighting to defeat the institutions, the federal government claimed more power. And to this day, when any conservative tries to make a principled argument in favor of returning more power to the states, they have to grapple with the fact that for many Americans, such arguments are tainted by their historical association with slavery and segregation.”

    It is now being reported that Senator Graham will also call for the removal of that “thing” this afternoon.

  5. Brad Warthen Post author

    I’m told the governor is in a meeting right now with the leadership, trying to get ducks in a row.

    Some questions on the table: If she called for a special session, would they deliver? Is there ANY way to do it in the current special session — say, as a budget proviso? Does it REALLY have to be two-thirds majority, or is there a way around that?

    But this is all third- or fourth-hand.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      James Smith says, according to The State, that a simple amendment to the existing resolution extending the current session would do it.

  6. Brad Warthen Post author

    Someone I was just talking to said what I’ve been thinking since this broke: Bobby Hitt has to be playing a big role in this. That’s one person close to her who would push for it, and one she might actually listen to…

  7. Bill

    Did he kill them with a flag or a gun? People are exploiting this tragedy to push a political agenda.

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