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Who needs Nikki?
The 116th governor of South Carolina entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination amid 4% enthusiasm among party voters in the polls. She trails Mike Pence but is ahead of Mike Pompeo. However, she may split the South Carolinian vote with Tim Scott who is polling at 1%.
USA Today reported, “Asked by Fox News’ Shannon Bream why voters should pick her over other GOP candidates, Nikki Haley responded, ‘Why not me?’”
Well, the answer is long and it begins with the question, what did she accomplish as governor?
She was the first person to be elected the governor of South Carolina who wasn’t a white man.
She was (along with Susana Martinez of New Mexico) the first non-white and non-male governor in the history of the United States of America.
She was (after Bobby Jindal of Louisiana) the second Indian American governor ever.
So her big achievement so far is that she is not a white man.
67% of the country isn’t.
But she is so much more than her sex and Indian heritage. Item 10 said, “She watched Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch and The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. She played Monopoly and The Game of Life. She was a Girl Scout. ‘You have to go to church or you’re going to hell,’ people in her town would tell her and her family.”
Not for a moment do I believe that quote.
Missing from the list was any accomplishment as governor. I mean, at least Kamala could say she put 1,500 potheads away as California attorney general. Oh wait, Nikki signed off on removing Robert E. Lee’s statue. That will show him.
The main thing she did as governor was fight with her fellow Republicans, who ran the legislature.
Six months into her first term, NPR reported on June 10, 2011, “South Carolina's Supreme Court has settled a standoff between Republican Gov. Nikki Haley and the state Legislature. The Legislature won, but the battle seems to be only heating up.
“Just as the Legislature was wrapping up its regular session earlier this month, Haley ordered the Legislature to return to session.
“In return, the Senate president pro tempore filed a lawsuit with the state Supreme Court, saying Haley's order violated the separation of powers. The court sided with the Legislature.
“This is just the latest in the months of sniping and bullying between the governor and the Legislature.”
Four years later, in the first year of her second term, the Washington Post reported on May 13, 2015, “Fed up, Nikki Haley turns her Web site into a wall of shame for nearly every lawmaker in her state.”
The sense of entitlement is strong with this one.
She whined at the state party’s convention, “We should be really proud right now, because out of 170 members in the House and Senate, 105 are Republicans. But in a time when presidential candidates are going to be coming through South Carolina, how do we hold our head up, when all year I’ve been fighting my own Republicans? I’m been fighting my own people.
“These are the people who are supposed to be with me. These are the people who are supposed to be moving South Carolina forward.”
I bring this up because Nikki took a swipe at DeSantis to a smattering of supporters in Exeter, New Hampshire.
She said, “There was all this talk about the Florida bill — the Don’t Say Gay bill. Basically what it said was you shouldn’t be able to talk about gender before third grade. I’m sorry. I don’t think that goes far enough.”
Where is her Parental Rights in Education law? Instead of fighting with his legislature, DeSantis fought with opponents to his agenda, most notably Disney, the world’s largest media empire. Back when newspapers were important, the saying was never get in an argument with a man who buys ink by the barrel. Disney owns the ink company, and yet DeSantis took on the House of Mouse and won.
In 2016, she opposed Trump. In 2017, when he dangled a UN ambassadorship before her, she was pro-Trump. In 2021, she said she would support Trump if he ran in 2024.
But now she says, that came “before we surrendered to Afghanistan, it was before we saw this high inflation and high crime, it was before we saw drugs infesting all of our states, it was before we saw our foreign policy in disarray, so a lot has changed. And when I look at that, I look at the fact if I'm this passionate and I'm this determined, why not me?”
Well, I will tell you why not her. She endorsed Trump two months after Biden — not “we”— surrendered Afghanistan. She endorsed Trump amid high inflation, high crime and a foreign policy in disarray.
Now suddenly, she has decided he is too old and we need a new generation of leaders. I am not saying she is right or wrong. I am saying if true, she is not the leader we are looking for. DeSantis is.
He fights — and wins.
Trump fights and wins.
Heck, Glenn McConnell fights and wins. He should run.
(Actually, he is quite accomplished and helped South Carolina get Boeing to build its 787 Dreamliner factory there. Those 1,000 jobs pay well.)
Nikki is a biography with ambition. She was about to finish third in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary when a late endorsement from Sarah Palin saved her campaign.
The answer to the question I posed — Who needs Nikki? — is the New York Times. Oh, not to support as a nominee but as a cudgel to beat Republicans as sexist, as it did in a story under the subhead: “Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign is a major test of her party’s views on sexism and female leaders. Just don’t call it identity politics.” And yet that is exactly what NYT did.
Geoff Duncan was Georgia’s lieutenant governor from 2019-2023. He tried to make the case for Nikki in The Hill.
He wrote, “First, she has foreign policy chops.”
He said, “From her tenure as United Nations ambassador, Haley has experience on the international stage. On her watch, the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, approved new sanctions against North Korea and spoke out against the world’s worst human rights abusers.”
No, those were Trump’s accomplishments. He moved our embassy to Jerusalem. He met with Kim Jong Un. And speaking out against abusers is pretty routine for U.S. ambassadors to the UN.
Duncan wrote, “Second, the state Haley was elected twice to govern and the broader southeast region is flourishing. From Georgia to Florida to South Carolina, it’s no accident that some of the most prominent names in the GOP hail from the region.”
Geography is no more an accomplishment than being born not a white male. Besides, both Trump and DeSantis are Floridians.
Duncan wrote, “Third, as a former governor, Haley can fall back on her executive experience. From mass shootings to hurricanes to negotiating a bipartisan compromise removing the Confederate flag from the Statehouse, her tenure in Columbia was eventful.”
Anyone can oppose the Stars and Bars these days, some 150-plus years after Lee’s surrender. Let’s see her take on the pride flag.
Duncan is a former professional baseball player. He knows three strikes and you are out.
Without any accomplishments in 20 years as a politician, Nikki is not presidential material. Trump built skyscrapers, made a billion, lost a billion, made more billions, and wrote two best-selling books.
Maybe Don Lemon can save Nikki now. The CNN presenter said at 51, she was past her prime. He is five years older than her. Maybe his words will elicit sympathy for her because emotional pleas are all she has to offer, but nominating her simply because she is a woman is by definition sexist.
She said on Fox, “You read the poll numbers on how I do with Independents and suburban women. They know I'm the biggest threat liberals have ever seen and they're scared about it. You want to tell me I'm past my prime? Hold my beer and watch this.”
I don’t think she quite gets the meaning of the phrase “hold my beer.”
Or maybe she does. Maybe she realizes she’s got no chance and is just going to enjoy the limelight and the campaign donations that come with it.
John Bolton said, “I think Nikki’s really running for vice president, that’s my sense.”
If so, I still don’t want her because politically she has accomplished nothing other than not being a white man — just like more than 200 million other Americans.