I failed yet again to watch the GOP debate last night, but never fear — I found the above video clip from it.
At least, it sounds like it, based on the debate clips I heard on the radio today.
What if you actually had to vote for one of these people? What if there were no choice?
That unpleasant choice seems much clearer than it was a few weeks back.
The stupidest headline I saw today, from a Ramesh Ponnuru column, posed the question as though it were actually difficult to answer: “How to decide between Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis.”
Seriously? You think there’s a decision to be made? You think people would find it difficult? Of course not. The only possible choice would be Nikki Haley.
Is that an endorsement of Nikki? Absolutely not. I am 100 percent a Joe Biden man all the way. No one in any party comes within a mile of him.
But of course, for quite a few years, it was my job to preside over the drafting of editorial endorsements in both parties’ primaries. And I was always insistent that we couldn’t not choose. The voters had to make a choice, and so did we.
What if I had to do that now? Or what if I decided that my vote would be better used voting for the least nightmarish candidate in the GOP contest, since Joe seems likely to sail to the nomination?
Well, then, I’d vote for Nikki.
Oh, every negative thing I’ve every said about her is true. But she has seemed to get a little better each time I look at her. One of the main reasons I opposed her so often over the years was that she kept running for jobs for which she was completely unprepared. But then I’d watch her, and she would gradually get better.
For instance: She was a disaster in her first term as governor, as expected. I mean, really bad, with no notion how to exert leadership. But then, well into her second term, she was notably better. And she had a really fine moment in leading South Carolina to do what I had been shouting for governors and legislators to do for 20 years — take down that flag. (Yeah, I know a lot of people want to dismiss that as not really taking moral leadership — but that’s complicated enough that we’ll have to discuss it separately.)
In other words, by the time she left the governor’s office, she had grown more or less to finally be qualified for the job. And what happens then? Suddenly, she’s the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Of course, no one thought for a minute that she was in any way, shape or form prepared for that job. Well, she had one asset: As I’ve said many times, Nikki’s superpower is that she makes a very good first impression. Being able to present yourself well is good. Trouble was, aside from that rather superficial “qualification,” she had nothing to offer in the field of foreign policy. No training, no experience, and no ideas to offer.
Even Donald Trump, who offered her the job, wasn’t blind enough to think she was qualified. But he didn’t give a damn. His only motivation was to reward Henry McMaster, the first statewide elected official in the country to endorse him, by making him governor.
But here’s the thing… if you listen to her talk foreign policy in these debates, she may not be ready to write a doctoral thesis on international policy, but she’s light years closer to understanding America’s role in the world and how to meet it than anyone else on that stage. And is even farther ahead of the guy who never shows up for the debates.
So she did learn something, which is more than you ever see from the rest of these people. When she was a dewy-eyed young legislative back bencher, I was happy to endorse her a couple of times because I thought she had some promise — if only she would take the time to learn a few things (such as how idiotic the phrase “run government like a business” is). But before she could qualify herself for the job she had, she kept running for the next brass ring. At least since then, she has learned a few things.
And as I’ve told you, I congratulate her on her willingness to turn away from the culture wars. You know, using beautiful words such as “consensus.” When she does that, it reminds my why I thought she was promising in the House.
Still, “President Nikki Haley” is a combination that causes me to shudder, no doubt about it. I could write a post several times as long as this one detailing why. But if you make me choose from that field, she’s now well ahead of my former reluctant choice, Chris Christie.
For what that’s worth…