“Slap a wart on that nose and a black pointy hat on her head and you’ve got your Halloween prop for this year,” remarked a familiar politics watcher within easy hearing range.
This particular commenter was female, so it’s not as though there was sexism or envy contained in her observation on the appearance of lone Republican woman presidential candidate Nikki Haley, a pol who’s somehow managed to rise from total electoral obscurity into the conversation as to which of the remaining GOP survivors would be best positioned to potentially elbow out Donald Trump for the 2024 party nomination.
And no, in case you’re wondering, this is not a game of “Which Witch?” either, though there are elements of this year’s horserace that seem like it’s all about who rolls the lucky dice in certain situations.
It’s safe to say most Republicans didn’t take Haley seriously until she began drawing attention late last summer for her purported standout Republican debate performances (according to the anyone-but-Trump pundits, at least). Granted, I confess that I don’t understand what Bush/McCain/Romney establishment Republicans really want or the qualities they’re searching for in a candidate, but there wasn’t anything about Haley’s Mitch McConnell-like defense of sending more borrowed U.S. funds overseas to Ukraine that would peak a conservative’s interest.
Almost two years into the conflict that Russia’s Vladmir Putin initiated with his vulnerable neighbor, there’s no end in sight to the immensely bloody stalemate in Eastern Europe and yet the purveyors of the DC “War Party” still hanker to get deeper involved “over there”.
Meanwhile, de facto Republican party leader Donald Trump – as well as Haley’s other GOP presidential race rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – aren’t swayed by the DC establishment’s new flavor of the hour, a swamp bog which includes Crooked Joe Biden and some of the congressional leaders from both parties, and their frantic appeals to get America’s military mired into overseas wars.
Haley soldiers on for Ukraine’s unaccountable politicians as well as maintaining other associations that make full spectrum conservatives cringe, which is pretty frightening in itself. (Note: Conservatives have launched a website called “Never Nikki”, where you can sign a petition pledging to never support her in the GOP race.) Yet I still wouldn’t label Nikki as personally “scary”, even if there’s some truth to the above “wart” remark.
What do Republicans have to fear from a Nikki Haley candidacy? In an opinion piece titled “Why Republican voters fear Nikki Haley”, the always keen observer Charles Hurt wrote at The Washington Times the other day:
“That Ms. Haley’s campaign is relying on Democratic voters to play in the Republican primary cycle should be a glaring warning sign for anyone trying to take her seriously. But then there is the much larger America First agenda that Donald Trump used to hijack the GOP from the monied Republican establishment, which is Ms. Haley’s base within the party. That agenda includes a secure border, deep skepticism about foreign wars, and policies to protect American workers...
“Which takes us to the biggest reason good Republican voters are ‘afraid’ of Nikki Haley. Mr. Trump’s meteoric success in politics is mostly thanks to his commonsense America First agenda. But almost equally important is his ferocious and unrelenting attacks on the mainstream media and Democratic politicians for injecting race and gender into every political debate.
“His refusal to allow them to put everything in a racial context is why Mr. Trump enjoys historic support (for a Republican candidate) among African American and Hispanic voters. But Democrats and the media remain so addicted to their race and gender politics that they even have a name for it. They call it ‘identity politics.’ But there is a better name for it. It’s called ‘racism.’”
Hurt’s take was fascinating in the sense that the “identity politics” angle hasn’t been widely deployed to describe Nikki Haley. Yes, she frequently mentions her gender and how women are allegedly problem solvers and that she’s a nasty XX chromosome human with heels who is ruthless and fearless and can get things done where genetically inferior XY homo sapiens would fall short.
But should we be afraid of her for it? Haley is Indian-American by ethnicity, which she also regularly refers to, but to my knowledge, she hasn’t used skin color as a reason to back her candidacy. Who knows, maybe her lack of use of the “I’m a minority” line of argument is due to the fact that South Carolina, with its easy-made connections to the ol’ South, didn’t seem to hold her region of origin against her when voting her into its governorship in 2010.
The Palmetto State also voted African-American Tim Scott into the Senate – not bad for a locale that the major establishment media habitually depicts as backwards and indelibly racist. One nonsensical church shooting occurred there and the purveyors of “woke” got all the ammunition they needed to label the state (one of the original 13 colonies and the primary mover behind secession in the late 1850’s and 1860) as beyond redemption.
Haley’s recent faux pas over failing to explain the cause of the Civil War played into the haters’ notions. But notice how Nikki’s detractors didn’t pounce on the woman for being less-informed or clueless – that would’ve been akin to picking on a lady!
By that time, the Republican party establishment had already settled on Haley as their last-ditch desperation candidate to thwart Donald Trump’s plans to make America great again. So, she got a pass. Could it have been identity politics that saved her from a more stringent rebuke?
If it could be said that some presidential candidates are born and not made, this truism certainly doesn’t apply to Nikki Haley, a politician so contrived and manufactured that it wouldn’t be shocking to discover she’s actually a robot with a control panel hidden under her clothing. It’s not that Haley doesn’t appear capable in the right circumstances – I thought she did rather well in her Fox News town hall forum a few days before the Iowa caucuses last week – but she drags a gravitas deficit that is characteristic of all content-free establishment candidates.
Haley’s hours and hours of studying and hundreds of public appearances allowed her to eventually become proficient at addressing almost every topic – but in one of the most important political talent areas, suppressing her emotions, she’s just not very good at it.
By comparison, Bill Clinton was a Democrat establishment politician. Like Haley, he didn’t appear to have any core beliefs, and if he did, he disguised them well as he pursued his monstrous salacious desires – but he ultimately cloaked his actual feelings to realize whatever he wanted from the political class. Clinton was a predator, but he also was regarded as the smartest person in any room and employed his legitimate photographic memory to learn the names of guests and converse with them as though they were his greatest old friends.
Haley is no Bill Clinton. She seems intelligent enough, it’s just that her smarts are buried beneath a veneer of corporatism which she further attempts to mask behind good ol’ fashioned patriotism, false feminist pride, her husband’s military service and a can-do attitude. Nikki’s actions in the 2016 primary campaign – and then again this year – revealed her duplicitous tendency to shovel praise and criticism practically simultaneously. Don’t forget that, as South Carolina’s sitting governor, she endorsed Marco Rubio at a moment where she easily could’ve sided with conservatives to back Iowa winner Ted Cruz – or Trump himself.
Once Trump won the nomination, however, she changed her stripes, heaping praise on the winner, who, in being susceptible to such baseless flattery, forgave and forgot in order to gift her with the United Nations job, from which she ultimately turned to selfish profit that she’s enriched herself.
How could conservatives rightfully object to Joe Biden’s family corruption scheme when Nikki Haley has used her own political positions to do many of the same things as the corrupt-o-crat in chief? Recall how Vivek Ramaswamy held up a paper sign that read “Nikki = CORRUPT” at the GOP debate last month. Was he so far off base? If so, how?
Hurt is correct in implying that conservatives fear that gifting Haley the 2024 nomination will set her free to construct a Clinton-dynasty-like “foundation” to empower the military industrial complex and spread war to every corner of the globe. She’s got a lot of rich friends she owes favors to, and one never knows when they’ll call them in.
Haley has stated outright that Ron DeSantis only questions her wealthy donors because he’s jealous that the moneyed interests departed his campaign to back hers. But the Florida governor has many policy accomplishments that cannot be attributed to his pursuit of campaign contribution help. If this were so, wouldn’t DeSantis have kissed up to Big Tech and “woke” corporate giants such as Disney?
Nikki doesn’t have much of a recent record to decipher her true loyalties. Since leaving the U.N. a couple years into Trump’s first term, she all-but disappeared from public view while dropping hints about running for president and vowing not to do so if Trump opted to give it another go.
By being so far out of touch, Haley has nothing believable to say about how she would’ve handled the most salient issue of our time – COVID – and is also removed from the now-desperate battle over illegal immigration. Trump and DeSantis were in the thick of the battles, so what’s Nikki to claim? That we spent too much on these things and she would’ve done better?
In sum, there are a multitude of reasons why conservatives are wary of establishment candidate Nikki Haley, and will continue to “fear” her going forward. Donald Trump isn’t perfect, and one wouldn’t be completely off-base in questioning whether he’s really the best one to right America’s ship. But folks know what they want; and they also know what they don’t want -- and that’s Nikki Haley.
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