Christie pretty much nailed it on Nikki’s gaffe

Last week while I was at the beach, I got a call from an old friend who is among the few who are still employed at one of South Carolina’s metropolitan newspapers. He was working on a piece about Nikki Haley’s Civil War gaffe, and had a technical question about how she and the Legislature brought down the Army of Northern Virginia flag in 2015.

He should have called someone with a way better memory for specifics regarding legislative procedure. I was unable to help. But we discussed the matter for a few minutes, and I intended at the time to write about Nikki’s self-inflicted problem, but I didn’t get to it until now.

There had so many things to say, that I had trouble finding the time. Just briefly:

  • First, it’s not a huge deal unless you’re among the many Americans who are not South Carolinians. Around here, we’re used to seeing Republicans dodge that simple question, “What was the cause of the United States Civil War?” Even my hero John McCain, having been burned by telling the truth initially regarding the flag, started reading something akin to what Nikki said in response to questions. But at least he had the character to be ashamed of himself. He made a big show of unfolding the paper and reading it each time he was asked, so everyone would know he had been bludgeoned into it by his advisers. Nikki had a lighter approach, in keeping with her superpower of making positive impressions (which usually involves not offending any potential GOP voter). But she ran into a buzz saw because the press was present. And millions of unprepared nonSouth Carolinians were shocked, shocked to hear someone who won’t even condemn Donald Trump answer in such a weaselly manner.
  • You want to be shocked? Go back and watch her meek answers to the questions of actual, real-life neoConfederates. Here’s the video. As I’ve said before, at least she has the character to look like she’s responding under duress. But she still goes along with the program.
  • It’s ironic — not that she doesn’t deserve it — that unlike most South Carolinians who identify themselves as white on their driver licenses, this is one Republican who has NO ancestors who owned slaves, or fought for the Confederacy, or any of that stuff. She just sounds like a Lost Cause defender because she’s so used to telling these South Carolina Republicans what they want to hear — or at least, not telling them things they don’t want to hear. She’s used to politely brushing such questions aside and moving on to something she’d much rather talk about. If you can call it up, you might enjoy reading Alexandra Petri’s column mocking her on that point.
  • At least Nikki managed to demonstrate in one respect that in this benighted MAGA age, at least she retains some values of the Reagan era, or at least one: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican. Not that that’s necessarily a good thing, either. She blamed the asker of the fateful question thusly: “It was definitely a Democrat plant.” Well, I suppose it could have been. Certainly it was posed by someone who did not wish her well. When you’re running for the nomination of the White Man’s Party, and in the age of the MAGA White Man, there’s no way you answer that question — whatever you say — that doesn’t get you into trouble with somebody. Either you — the one who stuck her neck out to finally get that flag down — get yourself in hot water with those Trump voters you’re trying to lure away with the simple answer, “Slavery. Duh.” Or you draw the “shocked, shocked” opprobrium of the rest of the country, by doing a little dance around it. But here’s the thing, Nikki — lots of people would want to back you into a corner with such a question, and a lot of them are Republicans. But of course, you don’t blame them, do you? You want every one of them, including the creeps, to love you.

I could have taken any of those courses (and those aren’t all the potential courses), and rattled on all day along any of them. But I was at the beach, so I didn’t.

But a couple of days ago, I resolved to take the subject up anyway. That’s when I ran across this tweet:

Nice one there, Chris. You nailed it. “She did it because she’s unwilling to offend anyone by telling the truth.”

And, as he continued, that demonstrates her lack of fitness for the office she seeks.

No doubt about it. Looks like Chris is running hard to regain the dubious distinction of being my Least Awful Republican Candidate. Nikki had stolen it from him, and he’s anxious to grab it back.

In keeping with his goal of regaining my “favor,” such as it is, his campaign started sending me press releases yesterday, and one of them told me he’s continuing the charge against the South Carolina darling. The release begins, “Chris Christie calls Haley’s commitment to pardon Trump part of a pattern where she tries to be everything to everyone.”

This remark goes even more deeply to the truth of why Nikki is not fit for the highest office in the world.

As I said, the no-mention-of-slavery thing was no big deal, if you know what to expect from Republican candidates who came up in South Carolina.

But this was a deal-killer.

“I would pardon Trump if he is found guilty,” Nikki said last Thursday.

You know, I could have forgiven her if she had said, very carefully, that she might consider pardoning him — say, with regard to a poorly-handled conviction on one of the weaker of the many charge he faces. After all, I’ve never been mad at Gerald Ford for pardoning Nixon (not that it’s fair to compare Dick to Trump; by comparison, Nixon was a paragon).

But she didn’t hedge or qualify, from what I’ve read. She didn’t say she’d do it, under certain conditions. She just said she’d do it. And anyone who has that little respect for the Rule of Law has no business holding the lowest office in the land, much less the highest.

So thanks for reminding us of that one, Chris…

36 thoughts on “Christie pretty much nailed it on Nikki’s gaffe

  1. Sally Huguley

    Brad, as I read the national press on Haley’ pandering Civil War comment, it strikes me how much credit she receives for “taking down the flag” from reporters who have no understanding of SC’s legislatively dominated governance. You know that nothing of consequence is done without approval of the General Assembly. SC probably has the weakest of a weak governor system in the country. I’ve often wondered if Sen. Pinckney hadn’t been among the victims, what the legislature would have done no matter what Nikki said. She didn’t have that much clout. Pinckney was respected and one of their own. The legislature already was seriously addressing the flag lowering before she called them back. Final state Senate vote 37-3; the House, 94-20.

    Also, not mentioned in stories is her flip on the morning talk shows from “I can’t do that to my people” to her call back of the legislature to address the flag issue. Was that her idea or that of National Committee Executive Director Reince Priebus’, who had quickly flown to Columbia? (The Washington Post reported on his trip.) After his visit, Nikki went from “I can’t do that” to the legislative call back. Likely, Priebus explained that her flag stance would raise her to national prominence. So, always overly ambitious Nikki quickly flipped as she’s often done. My bet is the GA already had the votes to pass the legislation. So Nikki’s role amounted to calling back the legislature (probably Priebus’ suggestion) and signing the bill. Very little influence on her part. The legislature did the work. She gets the credit, and the national press doesn’t get that.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      You are right in everything you say. As for your speculation as to what happened with Priebus, we have no way of know, but you could be right.

      You are certainly right when you speak of the weakness of governors, and say a governor in SC can’t “take down the flag” unilaterally. I’ve spent a good-sized chunk of my life writing about that.

      National journalists don’t know any better. It took me three years after I arrived here from Kansas to FULLY understand how weak the governor was. The result of that realization, along with figuring out other consequences of the Legislative State, such as our weak local governments, was the Power Failure project.

      However… this is where Nikki deserves credit on that if nothing else…

      Before she called back the Legislature for that purpose, I had watched 21 years of astounding fecklessness on the part of governors. That includes the one Democrat during that time — Jim Hodges told me he wouldn’t touch the issue with a ten-foot pole. I think he believed that he might have even MORE trouble from the Republicans then running the House — and from an electorate disinclined to electing Democrats — if he touched that rail. He had things he wanted to do, and didn’t want distractions.

      Finally, Jim engaged with the issue — and the result was a “compromise” that did nothing to solve the problem.

      David Beasley had stepped out smartly and energetically — but very carefully — and when he experienced blowback, he dropped the matter.

      At first, Nikki also tried to blow it off. I’ve told the story of chatting at a news event (a flag protest, I think) with Aaron Sheinin. We were speculating how in the world these good vibes could be translated into getting the blasted thing down, and I think he agreed with me when I said those good folks protesting were going to be very disappointed when the matter didn’t even get addressed until January (this was July, shortly after the murders).

      I made a bitter joke: “Of course, maybe Nikki will call the Legislature into session to address this!” And then I laughed at such an absurd idea. I feel bad about that. I’m not usually such a cynic. But I’d been through a lot of bitter disappointment in the preceding 21 years.

      There was no way Nikki was going to step up like that.

      I think it was two days later that she did. And if she hadn’t stood up and done that, thereby focusing a global spotlight on our State House, the flag would not have come down.

      A lot of people say “Aw, she didn’t have a choice.” Yes, she did. And I’d been watching governors make the WRONG choice for a long time.

      I don’t know WHY she did it. It was a big shock to me that she did. But she did it, and it made a definitive difference.

      It doesn’t qualify her to be president of United States. Nothing in her history does. But that was one good thing she did…

  2. Doug Ross

    I hypothesized on a deleted comment that Biden was hiding over the past few weeks because he was getting plastic surgery in preparation for 2024. Hmm.. now Joe has returned from Costa Rica with what the press is calling a very noticeable “sunburn”.. after having skin cancer surgery last year.. he’s either very dumb or had a tuneup chemical or laser peel performed.. you’re not fooling anyone Joe.

    1. Barry

      NY Post. LOL

      Haven’t paid that story ANY attention because it’s not worth paying attention to but peels are common.

      A buddy of mine who works outside in construction got one a few years ago. He’s about 50 years old.
      It’s hardly a thing to try to hide.

      Plus, in the real world, people that have skin cancers do still get out in the sun- sometimes too much- it’s why they end up with small skin cancers in the first place. Bad habits are bad habits. But those are common habits of tens of millions of people.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        My Dad got those cancers cut off him quite frequently over the years. Of course, he was a sailor and spent a lot of time out on deck.

        Personally, I’m amazed I haven’t had any such lesions myself, after the severe burns I got out surfing (or rather, trying to surf) all day when I was 17. Each time, I looked about like Joe in those pictures from the Post. I figured I wouldn’t have a nose if I lived to be this age, it got burned so bad. GROSSOUT WARNING! After each day at Barber’s Point, the pores on my nose would ooze this clear, watery-looking liquid that over the night dried to a yellow crust, kind of like a big scab.

        And did it keep me from going back out into the sun? No way. And it never occurred to me to use suntan lotion or, much less, zinc oxide. We didn’t have real sunscreen in those days, other than the zinc oxide. And that was worn only by lifeguards who didn’t mind looking like dorks…

      2. Doug Ross

        If Joe had a chemical peel would he admit it? I mean he returned to the U.S. from another one of his vacations in the dark of night where there were few photographers — I know, just a coincidence.

        If he had a medium or heavy peel, those are normally done under sedation which would REQUIRE him to transfer power to Kamala Harris during that time. Seems like the American public should know if the President is having medical procedures…. especially in light of the news that Secretary of Defense Austin was in the ICU for 4 days last week and didn’t tell anyone… that should require Biden to force Austin to resign.

          1. Doug Ross

            You ignore anything that could be seen as critical of Biden. It’s laughable at this point.

            My information about medium and heavy peels requiring sedation came directly from the Mayo clinic webpage. If Joe was so vain that he needed a chemical peel, why didn’t he admit it? And if he just got a bad sunburn on his Christmas vacay to a wealthy donors Costa Rica home, just say that. “I’m dumb enough to stand in the sun”

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              No, Doug, I don’t. I criticize Joe myself — when it has to do with something real and substantial. It’s just bizarre how you continue to accuse me of things that are so demonstrably untrue.

              This is beyond silly. This goes beyond the hullabaloo over Al Gore’s earth tones. And as I tried to express on New Year’s, we’re not going down those rat holes any more. Some starts, and I disallow it…

              And yeah, you manipulated me into posting this reiteration of yours so I could answer it. But we’re done now…

        1. Barry

          Something tells me he didn’t fly to St. Croix to be sedated in a medical procedure.

          A routine chemical peel does not require sedation or anything else except a little time at a medical office.

          Good lawd……

          You’ve officially ran out of legitimate concerns. LOL

  3. Ken

    This shows yet again what I despise about Haley. She’s an opportunist’s opportunist. Her whole political life has been built on opportunism. It’s her substitute for an actual career. Plus, it also shows that she’s not really a Trump alternative. She just wants to pretend to be one, every now and then, while continuing to embrace Trumpism. Which, again, is just another example of her opportunism.

    On a related note, it was quite disappointing to read in a WPost article that Haley “took down the Confederate flag.” She didn’t, of course. It was the state legislature that did. It’s discouraging how soon even people who should know these things forget these things.

      1. Ken

        Ditto for Tim Scott.

        Speaking of whom, a foreign visitor to the US told me about a gathering he attended where Scott appeared, and proceeded to rattle off his dog-eared morality tale about being the son of a single mom and all the rest. The visitor laughed and asked if that sort of stuff actually mattered in American politics. It shouldn’t, no. But many Americans are still enamored with Horatio Algerisms rather than actual substance.

  4. Barry

    Friday observations

    Great jobs report released today. Historically low unemployment. Job numbers being expert predictions.

    I read an article about Mark Cuban arguing with Elon Musk and the billionaire right winger trying to get all the Ivy league presidents replaced because he hates diverse candidates. Very interesting perspective from Cuban.

    Kudos to Governor DeWine in Ohio for his veto of the anti trans bill. A rare decision from a Republican.

    1. Barry


      some of the D & I events offered by the employer of my oldest this past year:

      (My oldest is a member of the Veteran’s D & I group that meets each month. You don’t have to be a Veteran. You can simply be a supporter to be in the group).

      Veteran’s Day Event in November- online 1 hour event where a Vet from the Iraq war spoke about challenges Vets face returning to life after serving in a war zone.

      Hypertension threat in minority communities- an online discussion by a medical provider about the high rates of hypertension in many minority communities, what is being do about it, what someone can do about it, etc..

      Diabetes in African American men- many african american men have diabetes and don’t know it. A survivor talks about his efforts to reach this community and encourage men to get checked and lifestyle changes that can help.

      D & I topics are threats to some Republicans and Elon Musk. In fact, they are quite mad that they are being discussed in a free society. They want them outlawed and shut down. That’s “freedom” for them.

    2. Doug Ross

      “Great jobs report released today. Historically low unemployment. Job numbers being expert predictions”

      You know they have a history of revising the numbers down after they’ve been published, right? They just “corrected” a November 2023 number down by 439K jobs… It’s interesting how when corrections are made they are almost 100% of the time downward… why would that be? Maybe because the correction is never given the same attention as the original?

      As for Musk/Cuban, it appears you completely misunderstood the discussion.. I would welcome you showing where Mush said he “hates diverse candidates”. What he hates are DEI programs — not the unrelated examples you posted — but the ones that give diversity candidates advantages and quotas based on their diversity demographics rather than their merit. Cuban has taken a lot of flack for his comments because if you look at his background and his hiring history in his NBA team and his latest Cost Plus Drugs company, he appears to favor merit over diversity. As an example, here is the leadership team of Cost Plus Drugs… does it reflect the diversity of America?

      I’m guessing when he built the company, he didn’t say “how do I make this company diverse?”… he had a problem to solve and chose the best people to solve it.

      1. Barry

        “They just “corrected” a November 2023 number down by 439K jobs…”

        That was a 2023 number for all months. Fox News made a big deal out of it – but didn’t provide any context- as usual.

        This is because of a long used BLS data point. (This over-estimating and need for revision also regularly occurred in the Trump administration). Fox doesn’t mention that though.

        Even with that, the unemployment rate remains at historically low levels. The economy is doing quite well.

        From The Motley Fool…..

        Data users frequently ask why the number was revised. The short answer is, the revised estimate includes additional information that was not available at the time of the initial release—information that makes the revised estimate more accurate.

        Why are there revisions to the jobs numbers? : Beyond the Numbers: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

        The problem is typically related to the lack reporting by business in a timely manner so the government has to guess and then revise when the real numbers come in. The BLS has been counting jobs since 1915 and there has always been a complaint about how it is done but the problem is no one has found a better or more accurate way yet.

      2. Barry

        “What he hates are DEI programs — not the unrelated examples you posted..”

        What I posted is straight out of DEI program material that many of the biggest companies in the world use.

        Unlike what Musk and right wingers sling at the wall (made up trash designed to appeal to people that don’t know any better), DEI programs encompass many more things that talking about what color a person we should hire.

        DEI programs focus on many aspects of a business, many aspects of diversity – from Veterans to disabled people and everything in between- including racial minorities and their extreme under-representation in many areas of business, etc.

        You completely misunderstood the Cuban/Musk discussion

        Cuban was 100% correct and nailed it perfectly.

        Musk has made it clear what he hates. The right wing-nut has a drug problem per the article in the Wall Street Journal. He also clearly has a lot of personal problems with his many kids and various girlfriends.

        Part of his problem might be his child custody fight that is going on right now in court- just one of his many court battles.

        “I’m guessing when he built the company, he didn’t say “how do I make this company diverse?”… he had a problem to solve and chose the best people to solve it.”

        You are the king of the straw man argument. But that’s all it is.

      3. Barry

        Thanks for posting the link.

        Looks like a pretty diverse team there to me. Of course, there are a lot more employees and managers there than the ones on that website.

        of course, Cuban also owns hundreds of businesses, not just this one you posted.

        the great majority of DEI programs don’t specify fixed goals for hiring (unlike what right wingers say in their silly accusations).

        In fact, many DEI programs, like the one at my company, are focused on education and awareness to employees, not specific hiring targets.

        For example, one of our most popular programs in 2023 within in DEI program was an employee and her trans daughter talking to over 400 of us on a TEAMS lunch and learn meeting about her journey into the professional working world as a trans individual, challenges she faced, problems she had, and how she was able to succeed anyway. It was terrific.

        I know Elon Musk and right wingers hate those things. But big deal.

        Having a trans family member myself, it was a great learning event for me.

  5. Barry

    I have had a lot of moles and questionable areas cut off over the years- starting back when I was a teen and my mom too me to her family doctor and wanted some of the moles cut off my back.

    Back then, they tended to cut off such things if requested. Today, my dermatologist has explained, they take a wait and see and keep checking regularly before just cutting something off that looks completely fine.

    My dad had a melanoma cut off his back about 8-10 years ago so I go to the dermatologist every 8-12 months for a checkup. I’ve had some areas cut off behind my ear, on my chest, arm, hand, and back. Also had my private areas checked because even areas not exposed to sun can have issues.

    One of my kids also has a lote of moles and gets checked once a year too.

    But the “peels” are common. I know lots of folks who have had those. They can just make your skin look better- which I guess is important for business and politics- but also just makes you feel better.

    I’d estimate 80% of politicians over age 55 in Washington have had a peel done- and many have had plastic surgery. Routine.

    They’ve likely spent less money than Trump has to maintain his fake, orange glow.

  6. Barry

    1) Conservative Republican Lauren Boebert, darling of the right wing, got into a physical altercation with her ex-husband Friday night. Her ex-husband called police. Witnesses say the 37 year old grandmother, Boebert, punched her ex-husband in the face as he was eating at a restaurant. Local police are investigating.

    Boebert has denied it but she’s a pathological liar. She denied groping her date and letting him grope her several months ago until video was released, then she admitted the obvious.

    2) 64% of Republicans in a new Harris poll state Donald Trump is a “person of faith.” The same poll shows only 13% of Republicans consider Joe Biden a person of faith. (Mike Pence, a dedicate Catholic that often talks very personally about his faith came in behind Trump to Republicans).

    The news article in The Hill newspaper pointed out that Trump never discusses his his religious beliefs (or is seen attending religious services of any kind). The same article also mentioned that Joe Biden often discusses his beliefs and is a regular at church.

    Just shows how lost Conservatives are these days- a total waste of space.

    It’s a cult.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Thanks, Sally. When I read that, I sort of half-thought, that’s not right is it? But I failed to stop to look it up.

          In retrospect, it should have been obvious he’s not Catholic. I’ve never once seen him perform our secret handshake.

          More seriously, he kind of walks and talks like an evangelical…

          1. Barry

            Pence walks like an evangelical because that’s where he makes his money and where he once was able to stir up enough anger to get votes.

            He claims to be Catholic. I have my doubts because he doesn’t talk like any Catholic I’ve ever met. His rhetoric is standard right wing evangelical 101.

            He’s firmly in the Family Research Council, Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed, Gary Bauer right wing religious radio territory you find on tiny AM stations.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            From Wikipedia:

            In his childhood and early adulthood, Pence was a Roman Catholic and a Democrat, as was the rest of his family.[22] He volunteered for the Bartholomew County Democratic Party in 1976 and voted for Jimmy Carter in the 1980 presidential election,[23][14] and has said he was originally inspired to get involved in politics by people such as John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.[23] While in college, Pence left the Catholic Church and became an evangelical, born-again Christian, to the disappointment of his mother.[23][14] His political views also started shifting to the right during this time in his life, something which Pence attributes to the “common-sense conservatism of Ronald Reagan” with which he began to identify.[23][24]

            You see how going to college tears people away from the traditions their parents taught them, and breaks mothers’ hearts? I’ll bet that Martin Luther went to college…

            You’ll note he was also a Democrat. That was more typical of Catholics in that day. These days, a lot of Catholics have unfortunately embraced the thinking of too many evangelicals, and moved closer to the former GOP…

            1. Ken

              Like Rick Santorum all those years ago saying how college ruins kids. And that Obama was “a snob” for expressing a hope that more kids could go to college. This sort of attitude — call it the snobbery of the anti-intellectual — seems to adhere to one side of the political spectrum.

  7. Sally Huguley

    Perhaps, I should have written that Pense currently is a Evangelical Fundamentalist, but he has consistently presented himself as one throughout his political career. Fundamentalists are a loyal base for him.


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