The Curious Case of Nikki Haley

My new column at Real Clear Politics arrives two days early because it is an autopsy of the Nikki Haley campaign, which should be buried today in South Carolina, but may return like a Democrat zombie for months to come.


Do you remember the Brad Pitt movie, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”? The title character suffered from a unique condition in which he was born an old man and then kept getting younger and younger until he died as a newborn baby.

Today, we are witnessing the equally curious transformation of a politician from a once reliable Republican conservative to a radical Democrat who seems intent on killing her own presidential political career in the crib. I am talking, of course, about Nikki Haley.

In 2004, she ran for the South Carolina House of Representatives on a mainstream GOP platform of education reform and lower taxes. After three terms, she ran as a Tea Party Republican for governor, an office to which she was elected twice, but by the end of her tenure she had sought to position herself as a moderate, perhaps with an eye on higher office. Then in 2017, she was named as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations by President Donald Trump and served in that capacity until the end of 2018.

So far, so good. You have to wonder, though, why Trump appointed her when she suggested before the 2016 election that Trump would not “disavow” the racist KKK. “That’s not who we want as president,” she said, but then in October of that year she endorsed Trump despite saying she was “not a fan” of him.

Those were early signs that Haley was entirely capable of crossing over political lines and giving aid and comfort to the Democrats who wanted nothing so much as to destroy Donald Trump.

Now, for the last two months, since shortly before the Iowa caucuses, we have been given the picture of a Nikki Haley who is either a shameless narcissist or a purposeful saboteur who aims to destroy not just Trump but the very Republican Party that adores him. I suppose she thinks she has some higher goal than party loyalty. Well, that’s fine, but then the party should spew her out before she does any further damage.

Remember, every syllable she utters during the primary will come back to hurt the party tenfold. It’s almost as though she’s become a stalking horse for Biden, trying out various lines of attack that might be useful for the current president against Trump in the fall campaign.

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After Haley’s recent ABC interview with Jonathan Karl, Axios put out a piece documenting all of the ways that the Biden campaign has been promoting her anti-Trump rhetoric. Indeed, their fates are almost intertwined. As Jonathan LeMire of Politico said on “Morning Joe,” “If you are Haley, you stay in as long as the money is there. You stay in. Certainly the Biden camp is grateful that she is.”

But Haley doesn’t get it. She says she will stay in the race, even if she loses her home state of South Carolina today, as is expected.

She insists that she’s just trying to defeat Trump because she will give the Republican Party a better chance of winning in November. But as far as the eye can see, over the next 23 GOP primaries at least, and then beyond, there is not one state where Haley has any realistic chance of beating Trump. She has, therefore, no path to being nominated as the Republican candidate for president. She might have a better chance of winning the Democratic nomination at this point.

Yet Haley continues her rhetorical assault on Trump without rhyme or reason. In a Town Hall with Fox News on Feb. 19, in response to a question about a campaign ad, she declared, “Once again Trump is lying about my record, and … if you have to lie to win, you don’t deserve to win. Period.”

But Haley isn’t telling the truth herself.

Take her claim that Trump is proposing a “10 percent across-the-board tax increase” on Americans. If he were, I wouldn’t vote for him and neither would any self-respecting Republican. Haley knows that, so she lies and says it is true. But it isn’t.

What Trump proposed in an interview with Larry Kudlow last August was a 10% tariff on all imported goods, with the money raised being used to retire the national debt. Now, it’s certainly fair game to oppose that idea for any number of reasons, but it is not fair to mischaracterize it. And, by the way, what is Haley’s plan to pay off that $34 trillion national debt?

Perhaps more seriously, Haley claimed in her ABC interview that “Putin said once he takes Ukraine, Poland and the Baltics are next.”

This is where footnotes would come in handy when politicians make blanket claims. There is absolutely no evidence Putin said that. There are plenty of Putin opponents who have claimed that will be his ultimate goal, but think about it. Unlike Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states are members of NATO and any invasion by Putin would be the start of World War III. Considering how small the Russian economy is, and how stretched thin its military is already, there is no realistic possibility that Putin would order such a foolhardy move.

Why doesn’t anyone worry about Haley making false claims about our NATO alliance when so many seem so concerned about every word that comes out of Trump’s mouth on the subject? Probably because the liberal media can use Haley’s words to try to damage Trump, whether they are true or not.

Another thing she has been lying about for months is how strong she is against Joe Biden in a general election matchup. She constantly claims that she can beat Biden in the general election, and Trump can’t. But that’s not what the polls show.

Let’s take a look at polling compiled by RealClearPolitics. As of last week, she was ahead of Biden in 11 of the last 15 polls, but guess what? Trump was ahead of Biden in 12 of the last 15 polls. And most of the newest polls didn’t even include the Haley option because she is so unlikely to be a factor.

And in the only polling that really matters, for battleground states that will decide the 2024 election, Trump is ahead of Biden in Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. Again, no one bothered to spend money polling on Haley in most of those states because she has no chance to win the GOP nomination. Everyone seems to know that except Haley. So what is she doing?

There can be only one answer: She doesn’t want a Republican named Trump to be elected president in 2024. But if so, why not just get out of the race and endorse Biden? Well, obviously that would be political suicide. She would lose all credibility as a potential Republican candidate for president, for Senate or any future race.

Moreover, if she dropped out, she would be obligated to honor the pledge she signed to participate in the Republican primary debates – namely, that she would support the eventual nominee of the party:

“I affirm that if I do not win the 2024 Republican nomination for President of the United States, I will honor the will of the primary voters and support the Republican presidential nominee in order to save our country and beat Joe Biden.”

Did she forget that pledge? Or did she lie when she took it? If so, how can we be sure she would honor the oath of office if she were ever lucky enough to take it?

She seems to be looking for any way out of the pledge, and the best way possible is to stay in the race. Then she can say anything she wants about Trump, no matter how destructive, and justify it as the rough-and-tumble of politics. Her Democratic and liberal Republican donors are apparently happy to spend money on her, not because they think it will help her, but because it will damage Trump. In that ABC interview, she declared flat-out, “I’m running against him because I don’t think he should be the right – I don’t think he’s the right person at the right time. I don’t think he should be president.”

She then tried to deflect the question back to Trump, asking whether interviewer Jonathan Karl thought Trump would support her if she were the nominee. Only problem is that Trump didn’t participate in the GOP primary debates, and therefore never signed the pledge that Haley signed.

She’s between a rock and a hard place. Since she’s now suffering from a bona fide case of Trump Derangement Syndrome, it serves her purpose to remain in the race and sabotage Trump any way she can. It doesn’t matter how much damage she does to herself or to her party. She has left reality behind.

Haley told ABC, “Seventy percent of Americans have said they don’t want Donald Trump or Joe Biden to be their only choices. Fifty-nine percent of Americans have said Donald Trump is too old and Joe Biden is too old to run for president.”

So what does she make of last week’s Economist poll on the Republican primary race, where 79% of Republicans said they want Donald Trump to be president and only 14% want Haley?

Come to think of it, maybe she is a narcissist.

About Heartland Diary USA

Heartland Diary is solely operated by Frank Miele, the retired editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell, Montana. If you enjoy reading these daily essays, I hope you will SUBSCRIBE to by leaving your email address on the home page. Also please consider purchasing one of my books. They are available through the following Amazon links. My new book is “What Matters Most: God, Country, Family and Friends” and is a collection of personal essays that transcend politics. My earlier books include “How We Got Here: The Left’s Assault on the Constitution,”  “The Media Matrix: What if everything you know is fake?” and the “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy. Part 1 is subtitled “Bush’s Global Failure: Half Right.” Part 2 is “Obama’s Fundamental Transformation: Far Left.” Part 3 is “Trump’s American Vision: Just Right.” As an Amazon Associate, I may earn referral fees for qualifying purchases through links on my website. 

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