Nikki Haley is now the grownup in the room

An image from Nikki Haley's Twitter feed...

An image from Nikki Haley’s Twitter feed…

I got a call this morning from E.J. Dionne in Washington, wanting to talk about Nikki Haley. I don’t know whether I said anything intelligible or not. I remember rambling about how she has held a series of jobs (including the current one) for which she was woefully unqualified, but has grown in office.

Which of course is nothing new, and I’m far from the only person to have said it. Once, late in her first term as governor, a senior member of her administration said, “She’s really grown in office.” Then he said, “And if you tell anybody I said that, I’ll f___ing come to your house and kill you.” So, you know, I’m not using his name.

But back to the present day… Nikki still has a tendency to get a tad defensive, as with her comment yesterday that “I don’t get confused.”

But that’s a defensiveness I can endorse. She fights her corner, stating her case in matter-of-fact terms. Also, she’s increasingly likely to be the one who’s right on the policy. Which is why her side of this is playing well.

It’s certainly far more mature than some of her petulant Facebook posts in her first term as governor.

So yeah, she’s grown.

And I don’t think I’m saying that just because the White House tends to look so childish by comparison…

12 thoughts on “Nikki Haley is now the grownup in the room

  1. Juan Caruso

    Brad, you say Haley is “woefully unqualified” for appointment as United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Well, she is not a liberal lawyer (e.g. Hillary) who progressives seem to think is automatically qualified for almost any government job, i give you that.

    Since nominated ambassadors are confirmed by the United States Senate comprised mostly of lawyers, it seems you may be overlooking a potentially more critical problem of endemic underqualification.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Juan, she had no qualifications for the job. None at all, except one she seems to have been born with: She makes a great impression. She connects well with people. It’s a gift some people have.

      And that is a valuable quality to have in diplomacy. Knowing that about her, I might have hired her for a low-level job at the State Department, assuming she was able to pass the Foreign Service test…

      In a sane universe, you go for someone with extensive foreign service experience, and/or advanced degrees in relevant disciplines — usually from Ivy League schools, at that level.

      Or you go with a distinguished public intellectual, as Nixon did with Daniel Patrick Moynihan (who is still one of my favorites to hold the post in my lifetime)…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Oops. I remembered that wrong. Nixon did offer Moynihan the job, twice. But he turned it down, not accepting until Ford asked him a third time in 1975…

        1. Juan Caruso

          Which to me, considering an obvious absence of extensive foreign service experience, and/or advanced degrees in relevant disciplines — usually from Ivy League schools, still does not explain Hillary’s confirmation to Secretary of State, where she was at best an incompetent pain in the rear to Obama.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I’m having trouble thinking of any major bad moves by Hillary in that job. I can think of at least one time when I thought she was right and Obama was wrong, though…

            For that matter, if you read what I’m saying, I can’t think of any major bad moves by Nikki, either. She’s done remarkably well, for someone with no preparation. And she was indeed less prepared than Hillary. Being first lady isn’t normally the kind of diplomacy experience I’m looking for, but it DOES entail interacting a good deal with world leaders. Then, of course, she was a United States senator.

            I’d prefer the course I described — the academic background and practical foreign service experience — but at least Hillary had SOME relevant experiences on her resume…

            1. Barry

              In 2012, after Clinton had co pelted her tenure as Sec of State, Tru p said she had done a good job.

              He added

              “Hillary Clinton I think is a terrific woman,” he told Greta Van Susteren. “I am biased because I have known her for years. I live in New York. She lives in New York. I really like her and her husband both a lot. I think she really works hard. And I think, again, she’s given an agenda, it is not all of her, but I think she really works hard and I think she does a good job. I like her.“.

  2. Doug Ross

    I supposed when she’s elected President in 2024, you’ll still be saying she’s unqualified. Certain people have attributes that allow them to rise to the occasion.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, I will, unless she’s grown a lot MORE than she already has. But who knows? The way things have been going lately, her opponent might be even LESS qualified…

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    Here’s E.J.’s column on Nikki. It’s a good piece, and gives Nikki a lot of credit for being, as I said here after our conversation, the grownup in the room.

    He didn’t use anything I said. He had written down part of what I’d said, and read it back to me, but it wouldn’t have fit comfortably into this piece. As I was reading it, that’s what I was thinking: “I don’t see how what I said is going to fit.”

    I enjoyed it, though…

  4. Mr. Smith

    You mention her petulant Facebook posts. Problem is, that’s basically her shtick in the UN, too. It’s easy to come on forceful, strident, make “tough” statements – especially in a forum like the UN. But it’s entirely something else to put together a coherent strategy and assemble a set of allies to pursue it with. That’s the primary job of a diplomat. And it’s not something she’s demonstrated great skill at. So I don’t see much “growth” here. It’s just that this administration sets such a low bar, anything and anyone who appears to stand even a little bit apart from it gets praised as principled. That praise is exaggerated and at best premature.

  5. Harry Harris

    I heard an interesting comment today on the radio. They were talking about the Haley/Kudlow flap. On her snap back at the “confused” statement, one person stated “You don’t throw a brushback pitch at Haley – she would charge the mound.”

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