Category Archives: Nikki Haley

DeMarco: Democrats and Independents: The Time to Stop Trump is Feb. 24

The Op-Ed Page

Photo by Gage Skidmore, via Wikipedia

By Paul V. DeMarco
Guest Columnist

Rarely does a state have an opportunity to make history the way we do on Feb. 24 in the Republican presidential primary election.

South Carolina may be Nikki Haley’s last chance to derail Donald Trump’s path to the nomination. It will be hard for Haley to justify remaining in the race until Super Tuesday without a strong showing here.

I won’t rehearse all the reasons Trump is bad for America, just two quick points. First, Republicans could get all they say they want – conservative policies, family values, and respect for the Constitution – from Mike Pence and several other prominent Republicans. Yet they are drawn to Trump’s scorched-earth approach, despite the Sisyphean rock of baggage he bears.

Second, Trump has proven he is dangerously unpredictable. Almost no one on Jan. 5, 2021 would have predicted what happened the next day: a sitting president encouraged his VP to overturn the will of the people, exhorted the gathered crowd to march on the Capitol, and then watched passively for three hours as they ransacked it. When he finally sent out a Twitter video asking the crowd to disperse, his message to the rioters included “We love you; you’re very special.”

S.C. Democrats and Independents propelled Biden to the nomination in 2020. Our task in 2024 will be less comfortable and potentially riskier. Like me, you may prefer Biden over Haley and have deep policy disagreements with her. But this election is less about the candidates than about America herself. Both Biden and Haley will try to leave America better than they found her. Trump has no such desire.

If you are like many in this state and nation, you have had Trump’s number since he first announced for president in 2015. You recognized what a small, soulless human being he was. You understood his drive to be revered and his dearth of compassion and loyalty. Over the past eight years, you have endured his fountain of lies, from the claim that Obama was not a citizen to his claim that he won in 2020. You’ve asked yourself again and again, is this is the best the Republicans can do?

This is your moment. The turnout in South Carolina’s Democratic primary on Feb. 3 was predictably low, since Biden had only token opposition. Only about 131,000 voters participated (about 4 percent of the state’s more than 3 million registered voters). In 2020, when the outcome was not a foregone conclusion, about 540,000 voters participated in the Democratic primary. That means more than 400,000 voters who turned out in 2020 stayed home this year.

So if you’re a Democrat or Independent who voted in 2020 but didn’t vote on Feb. 3, you can make history. If we leave the election to usual Republican primary voters, the latest polls predict Trump will win by 65 percent to 35 percent. If there is healthy turnout, say 700,000 votes, then the final tally will be roughly Trump 455,000, Haley 245,000, a difference of 210,000 votes.

The 400,000 of you who voted in the 2020 Democratic primary but not in the 2024 primary can swing this election. In addition, there are hundreds of thousands of others who didn’t vote in the 2020 primaries who could vote this time around. Everyone, yes everyone, except the 131,000 who voted on Feb. 3, is eligible to vote in the Republican primary (South Carolina has an open primary system, so you can vote in one primary or the other, but not both).

There are two ways to use this power. One is cynically, by trying to elect the weakest opponent for the other side so your candidate can beat them in the general. The better way is to help elect the strongest candidate for the other side, so that America will have the best choice possible. If Haley wins and then goes on to beat Biden in the general, I will disagree with some of her policies, but the country will be in sane, stable hands.

Imagine you have an infant child or grandchildren. How will you explain your vote for Trump to them in 15 years, when they are old enough to understand politics? I suspect many South Carolinians regret their vote for Strom Thurmond as candidate for the Dixiecrat Party in 1948 (more than 70% of SC voters chose him) or for George Wallace in 1968 (over 30% of SC voters). How an evangelical Christian will explain his or her vote for Trump in 15 years to intense questioning from a skeptical teenager, I have no idea (although I would pay to watch it).

I am hoping South Carolina plays the role Iowa did in January 2008 in its first-in-the-nation Democratic presidential caucus. In a state with challenging demographics, Barack Obama won and was propelled to a general election victory over John McCain. Whether or not you agree with Obama on policy, his respect for the office was clear. He adhered to essential presidential norms and left the fundamentals of American democracy as strong as he found them. Needless to say, if someone with McCain’s integrity was the Republican front-runner in 2024, this column would never have been written.

On Feb. 24, we can make a statement similar to the one our countrymen and -women in Iowa made 16 years ago. We can signal the beginning of the end of Donald Trump’s political career by voting for Nikki Haley.

A version of this column appeared in the Feb. 14 edition of the Post and Courier-Pee Dee.

Then, on the other hand…

All that said, let me tell you about something weird that came up just a little while ago…

Another smart friend, not one of those I had called earlier in the day, texted me this evening to say:

“_____ is writing an op Ed urging women to go out and vote for Nikki. She is with me and ______ on Dems skipping their primary and voting for Nikki.”

(Yes, I blanked out the names of two people I haven’t spoken with.)

Another county heard from. I told this friend I was still voting for Joe. And we went back and forth on that for a moment.

Then, the same friend sent me something just received by text a moment earlier (at 7:58 p.m.):

I wrote back to say I had just received the same message (or so I thought for a moment). And I hadn’t finished sending my reply when I got a text from one of the people I had called earlier to talk about this. He had just received the same text.

I was thinking that these had to be from someone supporting Nikki — maybe not her campaign, but a PAC backing her. Maybe that Koch group.

But then I looked back at the one I had received, and saw the wording was different. Instead of the flat, noncommittal statement, “Biden is winning by more than 50 points,” mine said:

President Biden will win a strong victory for his pro-democracy agenda.

Huh. It went on to say:

In the Republican primary on February 24, democracy itself is on the ballot. Former governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is running against Trump, a proud election denier. Make your vote count by protecting our democracy.

All straight from Biden campaign talking points. Which were not present in the other two texts. Those were quite neutral.

I called the second of those two friends, the one I had spoken to earlier in the day. This friend was an old newspaper colleague, and the different wordings perplexed us. This friend votes more in Democratic primaries than I do, and yet I had received the “Democrat” version.

Maybe because I was in James Smith’s campaign? That got me on some lists other than the ones based on primary voting.

I don’t know who’s doing this. Are my friends on the Biden campaign or a related group saying, “Look, Brad, we know you love Joe, but he’s got this. Go help Nikki be a thorn in Trump’s side.”

I don’t know. I don’t think so, based on past experience, and knowledge of these people. But I’ve never seen an election like this, and neither have these people, and maybe they’re doing something I wouldn’t expect them to do.

If so, they should call me on the phone and say it straight to me. I’m going to vote for Joe.

At least, I think so…

 

I’m the only Biden supporter who plans to vote for him tomorrow

How could I vote for anyone else? (2018 file photo)

OK, that’s a slight exaggeration. It just sort of feels like that, after the conversations I’ve been having in recent days. Especially today.

In response to Paul’s announcement that he’s going to skip Saturday’s Democratic primary and vote for Nikki Haley three weeks later, I said that Paul makes very valuable points, but “I’m not going to do what Paul’s going to do.” Joe’s my boy. I’m proud of him and the job he’s done, and deeply grateful to him for running. And I’m going vote FOR somebody — especially someone I like so much — rather than against someone.

And ever since I said that, I’ve been questioning myself. That reasoning is fine under most circumstances — such as when I voted in the Democratic primary in 2010 because I wanted to express approval for Vincent Sheheen rather than try to stop the worst of the Republican candidates. I felt good about that.

But this time, we’re facing an unprecedented threat to the country, and to the world. And if you doubt the “and to the world” part, go ask the people of Ukraine what they think. Or read this column by Max Boot: “If Trump wins, he will destroy the American-led world order.” It’s a good basic explanation of global realities, and I went away from it depressed that Max felt the need to explain such things. But he’s right. We don’t live in, say, Reagan’s America. Reagan supporters understood those things. But now, far too many of their descendants, on the left and right, come closer to the isolationism of Lindbergh’s “America First” movement.

Joe Biden is running for president at the age of 81, when he richly deserves retirement, because he’s the only qualified person who has a realistic chance of standing in the way of the madness of millions of voters who would instead vote for a malevolent ignoramus who — when he actually WAS president for four years — had to be impeached twice (something he richly deserved both times), who tried to throw out the results of the election that removed him from office, and is currently facing 91 criminal charges in a variety of legal jurisdictions. A guy who daily demonstrates to the world that he is more unhinged and vengefully hostile than ever.

As I say, unique situation. So each day this week, I’ve asked myself, “Don’t I help Joe, and my country, better by voting against Trump than by voting for the good guy?” I was doubting my course enough today that when I went on my regular walk around the neighborhood, I called several people who fit these two criteria:

  1. They are people whose judgment I greatly respect from over the years, to the extent that they might have the power to persuade me to change course. Which is not something you can say about everyone.
  2. They are also people who I’m almost 100 percent sure will vote for Joe in the fall.

They said different things, but they all had one commonality — not one was planning to vote for Joe tomorrow. And they made damned good arguments for what they were doing. But so far (I could still change my mind by tomorrow morning), I’m still planning to vote for Joe.

Here’s the way I see it, in chunks as bite-sized as I can make them:

  • I started making those calls because I was listening to today’s “The Daily” podcast from the NYT. It was headlined, “On the Ballot in South Carolina: Biden’s Pitch to Black Voters.” During the introduction, host Michael Barbaro said, “The question is not who will win, but whether President Biden can fix his growing problem with black voters.” Which kind of set me off on a “Here we go again!” trajectory. A premise that suggests that if Joe doesn’t have a decent turnout in South Carolina — which there’s no reason for him to have, since we all know he will win — I’ll end up reading political analyses to the effect that the poor turnout in the South Carolina is yet another datum demonstrating how the Democratic electorate is unenthusiastic about him.
  • Yes, that would be a profoundly stupid thing to say, as all my friends who are planning to vote for Nikki keep telling me. They’re rational people, and they insist no rational person would expect a big turnout in the Democratic primary when we all know who the nominee will be. And they’re completely right. Unfortunately, rational people make up a distressingly small portion of the American electorate in this moment of collective madness in our country. Every day, we all see idiotic memes take hold around us, and stick.
  • Worse, the current political press isn’t much better. This was demonstrated over and over in 2020. We had 25 or so people seeking the Democratic nomination, but as I kept saying, only one of them exhibited these three qualities: a) he was qualified, as one could amply tell not only from his resume, but by his record and performance over the years; b), he had the skills, bipartisan sincerity and credibility to appeal across a broad-enough political spectrum to win over the moderates who are essential to victory in a country so evenly split; and c) voters knew him. I kept saying that over and over in this venue. And yet what did we keep hearing and reading — not from the drunk at the end of the bar, but from paid professional journalists? Joe’s past it. Today’s Democrats want a new face that represents new concerns — such as, say, culture war battles of identity politics, rather than say, an understanding of international affairs (ho-hum!). How deep did that rot go? Well, I mentioned the NYT above, and as much as I still respect the Gray Lady, its editorial board was in the midst of some sort of psychotic episode in 2020. They didn’t even consider endorsing Joe, the one candidate who clearly could both win and then do the job. Instead, they embarrassed themselves with a “split decision,” endorsing both Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. This seemed to reflect a generational split on the board — Klobuchar for the grownups (she’s who I wanted for Joe’s running mate), and Warren for the kids. This was widely and justly mocked. Vanity Fair said “The New York Times Splits Their Endorsement, Pleasing No One and Inspiring Twitter Bonanza.” Amen.
  • Of course, the good Democratic primary voters of South Carolina schooled those journalists on Feb. 29, 2020. And they all changed their tunes, immediately, as Joe’s Democratic opponents started hastening to line up behind him. Still, just watch — some people, and not just folks on Fox, will be saying “Obviously, Biden’s South Carolina support isn’t as strong as it was in 2020.” There’s a great deal of foolishness out there.
  • No, my one vote for Joe won’t do anything to stop stupid interpretations of the turnout. But my vote for Nikki won’t put her over the top against Trump, either. And here’s where we get to the deep, gut reason I have to vote tomorrow instead of on the 24th: I’ve imagined myself doing that, and I recoil at the image of me, Brad Warthen, voting for Nikki Haley to be president of the United States. Because I know how abysmally unqualified she is (and how wonderfully qualified Joe is).
  • Yes, as unqualified as Nikki is, and as poor a president as she would be, she’s still a normal human being, and having Trump become president again would be infinitely worse. It could well mean the end of this wonderful liberal democracy we have been so privileged to live in since 1789. Got it. I agree completely. But…
  • If somehow all these votes for Nikki that my friends are planning enable her to defy expectations in this open primary enough that she weakens Trump, thereby causing him to slip and her to catch up and overtake him — all unlikely, but possible — then my man Joe would be facing someone I think would have a better chance of beating him than Trump does. Why? Because she’s a normal, very personable candidate (unlike Trump) who has a talent for winning people over to her. Also, that silly “vote for somebody younger” shtick of hers has more resonance than it deserves. Millions of people would vote for her purely on that point, despite her lack of qualification.
  • If she were better qualified — say, if she were as good a candidate as John McCain, or Mitt Romney, or for the sake of you identity politics people, as Hillary Clinton — then I could with a clear conscience wait and vote for her on the 24th, even as much as I like Joe. But she isn’t.
  • And if she weren’t trying to beat such a national catastrophe as Trump, I wouldn’t even be debating myself on this. But she is, and I am, hence this lengthy soliloquy. Maybe I should wait and vote for her. But…
  • We used to have these long debates on the editorial board… Someone would suggest it might be strategically smart to endorse this or that candidate or issue, even though we really didn’t want that outcome. (This post is already way too long for me to go off on a tangent about why that might happen, but such arguments did come up sometimes.) But then someone would say something like “Never endorse an outcome that you don’t want to see happen.” The vote is too sacred and precious to play such games. And I would nod, and agree. And it is especially risky to attempt such a gambit when we’re talking about presidential elections. Anyone who gets the nomination of one of the two major parties has a 50-50 chance of becoming president, regardless of who it is, or who his or her opponent is. That’s how delicately split our country is. We no longer have elections like the ones in 1964 and 1984.

So I’m voting for the guy I actually want to be president, and who has demonstrated how good at the job he is over these last four years.

Of course, I’m still confused at the moment, as the following post will indicate…

After today, no more hearing about New Hampshire!

Or at least, that’s what I hope, being a hopeful kind of guy. Eight days ago, I tweeted this:

Yeah, I was sounding a bit desperate there, wasn’t I? Well, I was, after suffering through all that hyperventilation over a meaningless contest. But so much for that. After today, it will be over, right? Wrong. After today, I will be tormented by the hellishly long general election campaign, which journalists everywhere will write about as though a normal election was going on, and a serious decision to be made.

When there won’t be. The only “decision” will be whether to turn out and vote for Joe, or vote for (and not voting would be a vote for this) the utter destruction of the country, an outcome that will make the disgrace of America in the four years after 2016 look like a picnic.

So, no decision to be made, not for anyone who cares at all about the country. You either step up and vote for Joe, or become part of the problem. You know what I will do… enthusiastically.

Of course, there’s another way to look at New Hampshire today — as the last chance for Nikki Haley to save the Republican Party from itself. It’s a longshot, but it would be nice to see her win there. Of course, it remains to be seen whether that would give her enough of a boost to win here at home. But it would be nice to see such an expression of sanity happen up north today — and it remains remotely possible, since N.H. has an open primary. (Of course, so do we, but that hasn’t done much good on the GOP side lately, has it?)

Notice I said this was Nikki’s last chance to save her party. I did not say “to save the country.” That was for a couple of reasons. One, the country doesn’t need saving, since we’ve got Joe, and as expected, he has done a fine job. Of course, there’s always the horrible chance that — since doing a fine job doesn’t get you much in our recent social-media elections in Rabbit Hole, post-reality America — Joe could lose to whoever the GOP nominee is.

And as I’ve said in the past Nikki would be exponentially better — or rather, exponentially less bad — than you-know-who by almost any measure you choose. But… she’s not qualified to be president of the United States. Not by a very long shot.

I say that for a lot of reasons, which you’ve seen me state over the years. Frankly, I’ve forgotten some of them — things that offered ample proof of her unreadiness over the years, and fed into my overall impression. The Boston Globe reminded me of this the other day when they ran this item from The New York Times about things we all knew here in South Carolina back in the day:

But that old news is far from being a significant reason to see her as unqualified. Those of us who have known her for what — 20 years now — have a sackful of reasons, from her immature craziness on Facebook while governor, to her failure to denounce Trump and run squarely against him, for which Chris Christie criticized her so aptly before he bowed out. (And yes, we all know why she didn’t. But what good to the country is a presidential nominee who won’t do that?)

So, despite the ongoing breathlessness from national media, I’m not in any kind of great suspense today.

How about you?

 

 

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…

If forced to choose a Republican, I’d have to go with Nikki

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…

Mind you, I never for a moment forget the darker moments…

The Kochs are backing Nikki

Does it seem weird to anyone besides me for the hopes of Republican orthodoxy to rest on her shoulders?

Hey, remember this mailer I wrote about back in August?

It was the one from the Koch organization Americans for Prosperity Action, urging Republicans to dump Trump.

Now, they’ve taken a more substantive step: They’ve made an endorsement:

A conservative-leaning political action committee backed by the influential Koch network is endorsing Nikki Haley for the Republican presidential nomination.

The Americans for Prosperity super-PAC says Haley is best positioned to beat former President Donald Trump in the primary election and President Biden in the general election.

In a letter addressed to “Grassroots Leaders, Activists, and Interested Parties,” Americans for Prosperity Action says it’s throwing its support behind the former South Carolina governor and United Nations Ambassador.

The statement says the Republican party has been choosing “bad candidates who are going against America’s core principles,” and that Democrats are responding with what it calls “extreme policies.”…

They’re making the move even as, in recent weeks, Nikki’s been making her own moves, rising to battle Ron DeSantis toe-to-toe — for the honor of being in second place, a couple of light years behind Trump.

Interesting. What the boys from Wichita seem to be trying to bring about is a return of the Republican Party, taking it back from you-know-who.

Is that possible? Can they even have a measurable effect in that direction? We’ll see. I wonder. Let’s say these guys could wave a wand and cause Trump to immediately have only one primary opponent. And let’s say every single real Republican left backed that one opponent.

Could they still deny the nomination to the interloper and his barbarian horde?

I hope they’re right to think they can bring that about. And just as fervently, I hope they’re dead wrong that this other person could defeat my main man Joe…

I’m posting this mailer from August because for some reason, it’s not showing up on the previous post…

If only Nikki had looked like that when she sat with Trump

First, I offer my apologies to you, dear readers, for not posting for 10 days. I’ve been busy. And of course, once I go several days, I feel like I need to post something big, and I don’t have time for big, and more time passes. Stupid, really. There’s no reason I can’t post small things, so I’ll try to do that.

One thing I’ve not written about is our Nikki’s decision to blithely seek yet another job for which she is not qualified. Here’s what I had to say about that on Twitter:


I just haven’t wanted to get into it, because its just all so absurd. I’d rather talk about the death of Raquel Welch or something. But I’ll share with you an email exchange I had yesterday, and we can use that to get into this, if y’all are interested.

I got this from Andrew Kaczynski with CNN, headlined “CNN question on 2010 blog post:”

Brad,

Hope you are doing well. I’m reaching out for background research purposes on this old blog post on Nikki Haley’s interview with the Palmetto Patriots.

Trying to get a list of interviewers. WSJ identified Robert Slimp as one interviewer. And I saw you screenshot the website at the time. Wondering if you remember anything else about the members.

 

Andrew Kaczynski

So that caused me to dig a bit, and I responded:

So those guys disappeared, huh?
No, I don’t remember much about them. Guys like that are always skulking about, and my only interest in them has been when we see Republican candidates going to genuflect before them.
This might help, though…
You seem to be looking at an old version of the blog. Here’s the same page on the current version.
There are still dead-ends from that, but I poked around a bit and found this post from 2017, in which I presented video of Henry McMaster appearing before the same group. That video was still active, and it took me to the group’s YouTube page, which is still up and running.
And there I found a video of Nikki appearing before them. And lest it disappear, I downloaded it. You might want to do the same.
I watched a little of it, and was reminded of how odd it was 13 years ago.
Look at her. She appears to be a prisoner, doing her best to appear cooperative — I assume someone told her she HAD to do this, and she was toughing it out. The usual smile, the easy charm, are missing. But it doesn’t matter whether she WANTED to do this or not, does it? The fact is, she did it. She gave them the answers they wanted. She saw it as the price of admission, and she paid it.
And no one should forget that.

Kaczynski said that the one guy he had a name for (gleaned from an old story co-written by our own Valerie Bauerlein), Robert Slimp, died in 2021. I found the obit, and it’s interesting. Here was a guy whom Republican candidates in South Carolina regarded as a gatekeeper of South Carolina’s precious “heritage,” and yet he was not from South Carolina, and none of his named survivors lived here. Still, Republicans believed they must abase themselves before his group if they wanted to win a GOP primary in seeking high office.

And seriously, look at Nikki’s face in that video. She looks scared to me, or at least very unhappy. Sort of like a prisoner about to give a confession under intense interrogation. As I said to Kaczynski, the fact that she was unhappy doing it doesn’t excuse her. She still did it, and that’s unforgivable.

But here’s something else that worries me, and should worry everyone. When she was sitting next to Donald Trump demonstrating her bona fides to MAGA extremists, she didn’t look like that. She was smiling.

And that is truly creepy…

If only she’d looked like that when she appeared with Trump.

Nikki’s strange perspective on history, and everything else

Nikki oped

I was attracted to reading this by the grammatical error in the headline: “The Media Tries to Divide Republicans.” My plan was to mock it on Twitter.Fz9ZWKUO_400x400 (1)

Of course, it should have said, “the media try,” what with “media” being the plural of “medium.” Duh.

The author continued the error in the piece, with maddening frequency: “But the liberal media doesn’t care about that. It wants to stoke a nonstop Republican civil war… If the media gets its way…” Ow, my head…

Yeah, I know some editors, even at some leading newspapers, have given up on using that word correctly. They’ve just gone along with the stupid, rather than correcting such things. (Sort of the way the Republican Party went along with Trumpism — and the Tea Party and Freedom Caucus. They found it easier.) But the problem may also be related to the fact that, as I found upon calling it up, this piece was written by our own Nikki Haley. Knowing Nikki, I sort of doubt that Latin was her favorite subject in school.

Here’s the lede of the piece:

Where does the Republican Party go from here? The party that abolished slavery, won the right to vote for women, and beat Soviet communism must continue to be strong and principled to move America forward…

Yeah, the GOP was at its founding the anti-slavery party, and for about a generation there all the “woke” people were in that party — Thaddeus Stevens and the rest.

Was enfranchising women a Republican issue? Maybe. (The Fact Checker gave that claim a Geppetto Checkmark!) Not really my period. I should study it more. I do know Republican women like to say that, while you don’t hear it much from the men. I’ll let you figure out why. (Nikki dwells in that little-visited part of the political spectrum where the GOP intersects with the left’s Identity Politics.)

But “beat Soviet communism?” Say what? I was here at the time, and I seem to recall Democrats very much being a part of the liberal consensus that opposed that system most vigorously. Yeah, they got a little ambivalent about that commitment over Vietnam — seeing how our involvement there arose from the zeal of Democrats to contain Leninism. But to so casually wave away the roles of Truman, Kennedy and Johnson in standing up to the Kremlin seems a bit much.

But Nikki tends to grab things on the superficial level, and she grew up in a party in which “Reagan won the Cold War, all by himself” is something not to be questioned. And Nikki doesn’t really go looking for things to question, anyway.

I wanted to stop there, but since I’m posting about the piece, I went ahead and read the rest.

It gets worse.

People feel strongly about Mr. Trump, but we can acknowledge reality. People on the left, if they’re honest, can find Trump accomplishments they like—a coronavirus vaccine in record time, Middle East peace, more accountability from China…..

Did you know we had accomplished Middle East peace? Wow! I didn’t. Did anyone tell the Israelis, or the Palestinians? Is that a fully accepted fact in Gaza? And what’s this bit about “accountability from China?” Does she mean those capricious tariffs? And didn’t Trump do an awesome job on coronavirus? Oh, boy…

But let’s give Nikki some props. The piece has good bits:

If we can’t make judgments beyond whether someone is Republican or Democrat, then America can’t face its biggest challenges. We separate into two camps that always hate each other. We become estranged from family and friends over politics….

Amen, Nikki.

But then she goes back to the nonsense: “Mr. Trump’s legal team failed to prove mass election fraud in court. But election security is still urgently needed.” Really? WHY? What, precisely, is the problem you’re trying to address, beyond voters choosing Democrats? I refer you to the first part of your sentence: Do you have access to evidence Rudy couldn’t find?

Then there’s, “I will gladly defend the bulk of the Trump record and his determination to shake up the corrupt status quo in Washington.” WHAT?!? The guy who openly used his position to advance the fortunes of his businesses, and who kept appointing and elevating and praising and pardoning people who had NO notion of ethics at all? The guy who arrived in the “swamp” and spent four years making it deeper and slimier and adding more alligators? THAT fighter of corruption?

I’ve quoted liberally — someone explain what that word means before Nikki faints — because of the WSJ paywall. But here’s the point, boiled down: Nikki is desperately trying to be the candidate of people who want to see the GOP face up to the horrific mess that was Trump. (Right after that last quote above, she says “I will never defend the indefensible.”)

But she wants to do it while keeping support of the people who will defend the indefensible forever, as long as it was committed by you-know-who. She thinks she’s found a secret formula that will make everybody support her. She thinks she’s being frightfully clever.

This is going to make her sound like she’s babbling nonsense. Because she is. Expect her to continue to do so, as she pursues an absurd ambition…

‘Shame on Nikki Haley,’ says Frank Bruni

nikki

And he has a point.

It seems our girl, so fresh from tarnishing her own fine record on the Confederate flag, has stepped in it again. Not sure why she keeps doing this. Does she feel she’s not in the limelight enough these days?

Anyway, Bruni said this in his latest email newsletter, under the headline “Don’t you dare question my patriotism:”

Shame on Nikki Haley.

In the aftermath of the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, she didn’t merely praise President Trump — a show of support that may well reflect her own, like-minded assessment of events and is absolutely her right.

She denigrated Americans who took a different view by disingenuously describing their reaction. “The only ones that are mourning the loss of Suleimani are our Democrat leadership and our Democrat presidential candidates,” she told Sean Hannity during an interview on Fox News. Of course he thrilled to that characterization…

Nikki’s point seems to have been the usual thing about partisanship stopping at the water’s edge. And there’s value in the usual thing, when we have a usual sort of president. Which we did, with the first 44.

But our situation now is as different as ones and zeroes from what we had before 2016.

As I said earlier, as we try to apply the usual standards for whether killing Soleimani was a good thing or a bad thing, we just can’t forget for a moment that this is Trump who decided to do this. And it is impossible to give him the benefit of the doubt, ever. This is a startlingly ignorant, narcissistic, unprincipled, impulsive, vindictive man who doesn’t know what truth is, who has no notion of the national interest, and is motivated entirely by what he sees as benefiting him personally, or stroking his pathetically fragile ego.

Not that he’ll never do what’s best for the country. He’ll do that if it is coincidentally the thing that he sees as benefiting him. He’s like a stopped clock that way.

To pretend we are living through a normal political era in which the usual maxims apply is to lie to yourself and to the American people.

And we get enough of that already from the White House.

Nikki Haley managed to extricate herself from the Trump administration with her image as Golden Girl of the GOP relatively untarnished. Now that she doesn’t work for him any more, she should keep her distance, if she’s serious about the future ambitions we keep hearing about.

She’s better off not trying to be Trump’s Yes Girl. Anyway, he’s got Kellyanne Conway for that

Nikki Haley was asked to help save the country. She refused.

Nikki book

Having been out of town travelling, the first thing I read about Nikki Haley’s most-newsworthy revelation in her book took a sort of second-day, second-guessing approach.

Aaron Blake wrote that yes, the assertion that Rex Tillerson and John Kelly asked her to help them save the country from Trump and she refused was important, but “The bigger story, though, is that two even-higher-ranking officials took such an extraordinary step that allowed for Haley’s refusal.”

No. Sorry. It’s not really news that Tillerson and Kelly knew their boss was a dangerous idiot. Hadn’t we assumed that?

The simple version IS the news here: Nikki did NOT fully see what a loose cannon Trump is, and refused to help them.

I suppose I’d need to read the whole book to know, but the few quotes I’ve seen seem to hint that when the two men told her, “The president didn’t know what he was doing,” she didn’t immediately agree with them.

And this is important because, against all reason, people keep saying that Nikki is “widely viewed by Republicans as a top potential presidential candidate in 2024,” even “the Republican Party’s brightest rising star.”

Only in a world in which Donald Trump can get elected president of the United States — a radically different universe from the one we all lived in before 2016 — could she look like presidential timber.

For that matter, only in a world like that could she — a charming person with ZERO training or experience in international affairs — have been considered a candidate for ambassador to the United Nations. But she got that job (because the priority was to make Henry governor), and managed to look very good in it, given the background — which is to say, given the train wreck that is Trumpian foreign policy.

Don’t get me wrong here: Nikki looks great compared to Lindsey Graham’s abject degradation.

Also, I’ll acknowledge that it makes me a tad nervous to have political appointees presuming to work around an elected president, even when that president is Trump. But I don’t get the impression that these guys were talking coup. (They weren’t even proposing the nearly-impossible task of putting the 25th amendment into play, although they should have been.) I could be wrong — and y’all tell me if I am — but it seemed more like a couple of guys in unenviable positions trying to guide the administration in a sane direction, and hoping for a little help.

Which she refused to give. And that’s what we should remember, whenever anyone mentions what a hot prospect she is to become POTUS.

No, seriously, Nikki: I’ve been tuning it out, too

My response this morning to a headline about Nikki Haley may have come across as mocking, or at least facetious:

But the truth is, I HAVE been tuning it out. Or at least, not tuning it in.

Last night, I dropped in as usual to check on my parents, and they were doing something I never do — watching network TV news — and my mother said something about Cohen being sentenced to prison, while none of the others in all this mess had to do time… and I said I didn’t think that was right. I thought I’d heard the other day on the radio that someone had just finished serving a brief sentence and was getting out…

But I couldn’t name the guy. And I really wasn’t sure about it. It was something I had half-heard, without actively listening… although I tend to have good retention of stuff I heard without paying attention — it’s the secret to how I got through school.

When I hear the name of the guy who just got out of jail, I picture this guy. So don't go by me on this...

When I hear the name of the guy who just got out of jail, I picture this guy. So don’t go by me…

(For the purposes of this post, I did a little Googling. Apparently, four people have been sentenced to time behind bars. This was the guy who just got out, after a ridiculously short sentence — 12 days. I can’t tell you anything else about him. Whenever I hear his name, I picture this guy, so don’t go by me.)

Here’s the thing: The whole enterprise seems kind of pointless to me. I mean, I think the Mueller investigation needs to continue, for very serious reasons: We need to know all we can about the Russian effort to disrupt our elections — the 2016 one and especially future ones. We need to get a LOT more savvy about that stuff, and stop being so absurdly gullible as a people.

But I’m not terribly optimistic that that’s going to happen in a post-truth America.

And anyway, I sense that the reason other people pay so much attention to this investigation and its resultant prosecutions is that they think it has bearing on Donald Trump’s fate.

It doesn’t, near as I can can see. If you’re counting on, say, impeachment, dream on. Impeachment is a political act, and the Senate is in thrall to Trump. And even if the Dems had succeeded in capturing the Senate, impeachment would not have been a viable option. It probably would have exacerbated the sickness in our body politic that produced Trump.

The political significance of the Cohen prosecution has nothing to do with violation of campaign finance laws. It has to do with him paying off a porn star at Trump’s behest. That’s something we knew before the election, and it had zero effect on the people who voted for him. As it continues to do.

That’s how low we have sunk as a country. And you might say my dropping of names of Watergate figures was an act of nostalgia on my part, a longing for a time when facts mattered, and the nation had standards.

I watched “All the President’s Men” again the other night. Such a wonderful film, on so many levels. The wistfulness I feel watching it goes far beyond remembering the days when newspapers were healthy and vital. It goes to a time when, if the public learned that people in and around high public office did bad things, that was it.

Once it reached the Oval Office, and the non-denial denials weren’t working any more, Nixon was toast. And being the master politician he was, he knew that. So he resigned. And in retrospect we can see that maybe he did so in part because of something missing today — a sense of honor, a wish to avoid putting the country through the trauma of impeachment.

We didn’t lose that all at once. It took time. And Democrats who congratulate themselves on still having standards should remember that 20 years ago one of their own did NOT resign, despite having been caught in impeachable acts, including brazenly lying to the American people.

Things are worse now, of course. Facts at least still mattered a bit in 1998. They don’t now, with a shockingly large portion of the electorate.

I appreciate what Mueller is trying to do, and I appreciate him, as sort of the last Boy Scout, a guy who still believes in the importance of facts.

But I just can’t get interested enough to follow the details. So I’m like Nikki there…

 

 

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…

Nikki Haley needs to remember that she works for Donald Trump, who won’t back her up — especially on Russia

nikki talk

This is just classic. From The Washington Post:

Nikki Haley finds herself under the bus as Trump shifts course on Russia

The Washington Post reported late Sunday that President Trump “has battled his top aides on Russia and lost.”

Less than 20 hours later, Trump has now reversed U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s announcement that the United States would be ramping up sanctions on Russia.

Hmm.

The sudden reversal of Haley’s Sunday-morning announcement is hardly the only example of the right hand in the White House not always knowing what the left hand is up to. Trump often seems to be negotiating not just those around him but also with himself and has been unafraid of contradicting top aides and even Cabinet-level officials like Haley.

But on Russia and on an issue of such import, the quick reversal is stunning — and relatively rare. There is no clear indication whether Haley or someone else is at fault, but as The Post’s team notes, she has a tendency to clear her remarks with Trump personally before she makes them. It seems entirely possible that she got Trump to sign off on saying more Russia sanctions were coming on Sunday morning, and then the White House got cold feet (possibly because Trump suddenly felt the need to exert himself over the process)….

Remember, Nikki, you’re working for a 2-year-old — and one who thinks Vladimir Putin is one of the cool kids…

How many Nikki Haleys ARE there?

multiple nikki

Aaarrrggghhh!

I’m reacting to this:

Not everyone was a fan of the Grammy Awards segment where celebrities read passages of the controversial best seller “Fire and Fury.”

One person especially critical on Sunday night was a member of the Trump Administration and took to Twitter to voice their displeasure.

No, it wasn’t President Donald Trump.

It was his Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. Shortly after the segment, which included an appearance by Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in the 2016 presidential election, Haley shared her disdain with the segment on social media

Their?” To voice their displeasure?

Yeah, got it — you were trying to avoid a gender-specific pronoun to generate brief suspense as to who it was. But since you assumed that readers would assume it was Trump, you sort of called extra attention to the question of gender with that jarring “their.” You might as well have added parenthetically, “It’s not a he!”

You could just as easily have written, “One person especially critical on Sunday night was a member of the Trump Administration and took to Twitter to voice displeasure,” period. Or better yet, to fix another problem, “One person especially critical on Sunday night was a member of the Trump Administration who took to Twitter to voice displeasure.”

See how easy that was — and how much better than creating a universe in which there are multiple Nikki Haleys?

Anyone have any idea what I’m doing that bugs Google?

The cartoon that started the fuss back in 2010. In case you forget, it was about Nikki Haley calling for transparency for everyone but herself...

The cartoon that started the fuss back in 2010. In case you forget, it was about Nikki Haley calling for transparency for everyone but herself…

Google Adsense — the folks who place the more random-seeming ads on this blog — sent me this warning recently. I just wish I knew what it was I did that they don’t like — because while the money I get from Google for those ads is a tiny trickle, it’s better than nothing, so I’d hate to see them pull the ads altogether.

Here’s what they said:

Dear Publisher,

This Google Publisher Policy Report gives you an overview of recent activity related to violations found on specific pages of your websites. As enforcement statuses may change over time, please refer to the “Page-level enforcements” section of the AdSense Policy Center for the current list of active violations.

Please note this report doesn’t cover violations that may happen on an overall site or account level. You may be notified by a separate email if site or account level violations are found. Ads will continue to serve where no policy violations have been found, either at the page- or site-level.

In the last 24 hours:

  • New violations were detected. As a result, ad serving has been restricted or disabled on pages where these violations of the AdSense Program Policies were found. To resolve the issues, you can either remove the violating content and request a review, or remove the ad code from the violating pages.

Further details on enforcements can be found in the AdSense Help Center. To learn more about our program policies, please view the AdSense Program Policies.

Kind regards,
Google Publisher Policy

The particular post that is seen as being in violation was this one from 2010, in which I rebutted people who were offended by a Robert Ariail cartoon. All Google tells me is that it contains “Dangerous or derogatory content.” Google further defines that this way:

As stated in our program policies, Google ads may not be placed on pages that contain content that:

  • Threatens or advocates for harm on oneself or others;

  • Harasses, intimidates or bullies an individual or group of individuals;

  • Incites hatred against, promotes discrimination of, or disparages an individual or group on the basis of their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or other characteristic that is associated with systemic discrimination or marginalization.

Of course, neither my post nor Robert’s cartoon did any of those things, although there were people who managed to twist logic enough to be offended. Perhaps one of them complained to Google. Well, sorry, folks, but this is a political commentary blog, and that cartoon was legitimate commentary that made a highly relevant political point at the time.

Even if you do find a way to be offended, it completely escapes me how this seven-year-old post constitutes a “new violation.” This post was old and moldy before I ever started running Google ads. And the last comment on it was posted on Aug. 14, 2010. There’s nothing new there. In fact, reading over it just now I found some glaring typos, but I’m not going to touch them in case that makes the post more current to some algorithm out there.

The only way Google offers me to question this ruling is to “request review,” which I have done. I don’t get to offer a defense or anything; I just click on “request review,” and they say this:

What’s happening

You’ve requested a review for this page and we’re currently looking into it. Reviews typically take 1 week but sometimes can take longer. We’ll let you know when the review is complete.

We’ll see.

And Nikki had been doing so WELL lately…

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First, Nikki Haley was doing pretty well as a backbench S.C. House member, to the extent that we endorsed her twice. She had a lot to learn, but she seemed fairly bright and we felt her intentions were good.

Then, she ran for governor, for which she was shockingly unprepared. All I could say at the time was, “Don’t do it, Nikki!” But she did it. And for much of the past four years, she demonstrated how unprepared she was.

But toward the end, she showed some signs of growing in office. I wasn’t the only one who noticed. One of her own political appointees put it to me in just those words. I didn’t report that at the time because the next thing he said was, “And if you write that I’ll come to your house and kill you.” It didn’t seem worth it.

Then she got re-elected, and then in 2015 she did probably the finest thing she will do in her life, and I praised her to the skies and urged others to do so. Finally, I thought, she is a governor.

And then, owing Henry McMaster a major favor, you-know-who named her U.S. ambassador to the U.N. This was shocking, of course, because she had no known experience or understanding of geopolitics, either in a real-world or academic sense. So I braced myself.

But she has done surprisingly well. Not perfectly well, but amazingly so for someone entirely lacking in credentials.

I attribute this to one of her most remarkable innate attributes: She makes a good impression. Not just a good first impression, or a good second one — the effect continues through the 10th, the 20th and so on. Sometime after that, you might have creeping doubts, if you’re inclined that way. But it takes awhile.

And a talent like that can go a long, long way in diplomatic circles. Consequently, people started talking of her as a replacement for Rex Tillerson, who has no discernible diplomatic talents, and has been dismantling the State Department. She even gets mentioned as a possible future successor to you-know-who, but let’s not get into that.

The point is, she’s been doing well.

But sometimes old habits rise up, as in this Tweet:

Hey, at least she didn’t say that other thing people say they’re going to do in tandem with taking names.

You know what that reminds me of? When she presumed to “grade” legislators according to whether they had done her bidding. This was in 2011, long before she started showing signs of growing into the office of governor.

And this is disappointing. Here’s hoping Diplomatic Nikki makes a return, and soon…

Meanwhile, the bluster didn’t work:

United Nations Rebukes U.S. Over Jerusalem in 128-to-9 Vote

How fast can she write? That’s a lot of names to take in a short period of time…

Nikki Haley on the cover of TIME

59b14d153e9e8.image

Are you ready for this, folks?

This morning, Phillip said:

evidently there are rumors that we may be getting a Madam (Haley) Secretary soon…

To which I could only react by saying, it’s astounding how far a person can get just with poise and social graces. But let’s give Nikki some credit for having some assets: What’s even more amazing than that is how far someone can now get without those things — as proof of that, we have her boss.

Nikki looks good, very good, standing next to the administration that she serves in. It doesn’t mean she’s ready to be secretary of state by any stretch of the imagination. Then again, I’m not convinced that Rex Tillerson was, either. While he may know a good bit more about the world than our ex-governor, he does lack those social skills — and astonishing self-confidence — that our Nikki possesses in abundance. And while I’d like to see some actual foreign policy credentials, at least those qualities are assets in diplomacy.

Now, to digress…

Did you see that list of women? Could they not come up with a more, um, current list? The headline is WOMEN WHO ARE CHANGING THE WORLD — “are,” not “were,” or “did decades ago.”

And yet we have… Barbara Walters, who made a splash back in what, the ’70s? Aretha Franklin, who is certainly awesome, but had her heyday even earlier? Hillary Clinton — the splash that didn’t happen. And I’m a Madeleine Albright fan, but what has she done since the ’90s?

Perhaps the magazine will tell us. But given the shallowness of the few things I’ve read in TIME in the last 20 years, I don’t have my hopes up.

What about — I don’t know — Angela Merkel? Or Theresa May, despite her recent troubles? Or somebody current.

At least Nikki is busily storming the foreign policy establishment right now. But that’s not, apparently, TIME‘s reason for putting her on the list. Instead, they’re still celebrating her for being “First Indian-American woman to be elected governor.” Really — it happened in 2010, and they’ve just caught on to it! At least Newsweek did it when it was news. In fact, they kind of jumped the gun on it.

I mean, come on! I haven’t exactly been a cheerleader (except on her greatest moment, getting the flag down), but the woman’s done more that that! Show some respect — if not to her, then to us as readers!

I dunno. There are magazines out there that are more engaged and relevant than they’ve ever been. I’d put The New Yorker in that category. But TIME, the first magazine I ever subscribed to (when I was in high school), seems to have given up on offering us anything worth our time.

You want to read something that matters about Nikki Haley? Go to that Foreign Policy piece Phillip brought up, where you’ll read:

Haley’s high profile on pressing international issues, including Iran and North Korea, raised fresh questions about the influence and political future of the secretary of state. Tillerson has been strangely absent from the public spotlight, even amid mounting tensions with North Korea, and Haley has stepped in to fill the void….

… instead of news from 2010.

“President United States” Nikki Haley

Nikki 1

My wife was watching her Reuters TV app yesterday, and at one point she said, “Why does it say ‘president’ under Nikki Haley’s name?”

I thought at first that she meant Reuters had made a mistake in the chyron under the video, and thinking there might be a light blog post in it, I downloaded the app myself just to watch the clip.

Turns out that no, Reuters had made no mistake. And the label wasn’t part of some ephemeral electronic crawl, but an actual, physical sign in front of her that said “PRESIDENT,” next to a sign just like it that said, “UNITED STATES.”

This juxtaposition would have freaked me out a bit a year or two ago, as it did whenever I heard or read national pundits referring to her as running-mate material. Only more so. But now, Donald J. Trump actually is president of the United States, and I would far rather see Nikki — or almost any reasonably normal person — in that job.

As for the “PRESIDENT” sign, that’s easily explained. She’s taking her turn this month presiding over the Security Council (another thing that might have freaked me out a year ago, but as I explained before, things have changed).

But let’s, just for the sake of variety, speak for a moment to the substance. If you didn’t see and hear her speech before the Security Council, here it is:

That clip culminates with her line that’s been quoted a good bit over the last 24, “When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in life of states that we are compelled to take our own action.”

Which sounds ominous, of course. But it seemed quite natural after she stood up and displayed those pictures.

The good news is that the Steve Bannon isolationist America-First nonsense seems to be fading into the background this week. The bad news is that we might soon have (more) troops fighting in Syria, a country where you can’t walk across the street without tripping over one of Trump’s buddy Putin’s people.

So, a tense situation.

But that’s not my point in this post. What is my point? I guess it’s to say that at this difficult moment, Nikki did a pretty good job…

Nikki 2

Suddenly, Nikki Haley is America’s foreign policy grownup

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This was in The Washington Post over the weekend:

After President Trump said that deporting undocumented immigrants was “a military operation,” Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, speaking in Mexico, clarified that there would be “no use of military force in immigration operations.”

After Trump, standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, upended decades of U.S. policy by saying he was open to a one-state solution to the conflict in the Middle East, U.N. envoy Nikki Haley asserted that the United States “absolutely” supports a two-state solution.

And after Trump alarmed European allies by declaring NATO obsolete, Vice President Pence flew to Munich and Brussels, where he reassured a worried continent that the president remains “fully devoted to our transatlantic union.”

One of the unofficial duties of Trump’s Cabinet, it seems, is cleaning up the statements of the man they serve. Five weeks into Trump’s tenure in office, his deputies have found themselves softening, explaining and sometimes outright contradicting the president….

Or, as Jennifer Rubin wrote last week, “Pay no mind to Trump. He’s just the president.”

Perhaps the only hope we have to cling to in this crisis is the fact that most of the world understands that the president of the United States is, for the first time in history, a complete nincompoop (see how I didn’t call him an “idiot” just then), so there’s the possibility of grownups cleaning up his messes before they blow up completely. No guarantee it will work, of course, but there’s the possibility.

Here’s what we’ve come to: Our own Nikki Haley, who had basically zero qualifications for the job of ambassador to the U.N., is now the grownup who has to step in and set things right when the president of the United States screws up on the global stage.

Scary, isn’t it?

I don’t want to take anything away from Nikki by saying that. It’s not her fault she was unqualified for the position. To my knowledge, she never sought the position, and can be forgiven for not having prepared herself for it before it fell in her lap. I applaud how well she’s doing scrambling to catch up. She’s apparently listening to the right people, and doing her best to learn, and I honor her for it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the guy who picked her for the job would do the same thing? But he won’t. He’s destroyed our hopes of his ever doing that, over and over again.

So everyone around him — or the competent ones, anyway, who are too few — will have to keep cleaning up after him, as well as they can for as long as they can. Which is cold comfort…