Wow. A South Carolinian Margaret Thatcher she ain’t. Not to mention no Ronald Reagan in a dress.
Such a softball shot was the GOP response to the last Obama State of the Union and it was blown. Big time. What in the world was South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley thinking?
Tasked with giving the GOP Establishment response to President Obama’s final SOTU, Haley, once thought to be a rising star in the conservative firmament, imploded. How? By uttering the kind of hoary Establishment “wisdom” that repeatedly illustrates just how disconnected the Establishment elites are from the base of the GOP. As Sean Hannity said yesterday, she indeed did “sound like Obama.” Rush Limbaugh had it right — the real story Tuesday night was not Obama but Haley. Said Rush yesterday, in part:
Nikki Haley is actually the story today, in a whole bunch of different ways. There’s so much here to say about the Nikki Haley response. It’s the first time in my life I can remember the response to the State of the Union not going after the president but rather going off the front-runner of, in this case, her own party. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. And it is quite telling to note where in the Drive-By Media and in the conservative media today she’s being hailed.
… But, boy, last night her response? I think it’s proof and it’s an example of so much. For one thing, it’s almost absolute proof of what I have been saying for last couple years now, that the Republican Party’s trying to drive conservatives out of the party. But I think it’s more than that. It’s certainly that, but her speech last night sort of expanded the theme of who is and who isn’t qualified to be a Republican, and the Republican Party is still anti-conservative.
While that isn’t anything new, what we learned last night is that they are very comfortable identifying themselves as elites and members of a club and that you can’t get in just by being who you are and doing what you want to do as a Republican and pursuing what you believe in. Going after Trump last night the way she did… She wasn’t going after Trump the same way the party goes after the conservative base, or as Jeb Bush said, famously, that his objective was to win the Republican nomination without the support of the Republican Party base.
… She admits today that she was talking about Trump — and to a lesser extent, Cruz. She also means talk radio. She also means the conservative base, and don’t believe anything other than that. But here’s the thing, folks. This is, to me, one of the greatest bits of evidence that the Republican Party is not just anti-conservative, but it is very much pro-elite. It is a club that they don’t want a whole lot of people joining.
Listen to these lines from Haley’s speech:
Today, we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory. During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.
No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.
At the same time, that does not mean we just flat out open our borders. We can’t do that. We cannot continue to allow immigrants to come here illegally. And in this age of terrorism, we must not let in refugees whose intentions cannot be determined.
We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries.
Question. What is wrong with those last three paragraphs? Answer: Nothing. It’s the first that sets the tone and delivers the real message — which is to say that to object to illegal immigration is somehow “angry.” Curiously, Haley refers to the Charleston shooting along the way. Let it be noted that she wants the death penalty for the shooter. Clearly the whole affair — quite understandably — makes Haley angry. It made a lot of people angry. It’s hard to be anything other than one of the “angriest voices” when you are out there demanding somebody be put to death, as Haley is doing.
Yet somehow the murders of Kate Steinle and 17-year old Jamiel Shaw — both at the hands of illegals — not only don’t seem to attract the anger she clearly and justifiably feels about the murderous white American kid. I have no idea why, but the thought occurs that Haley simply is going the politically correct route that both Trump and Cruz — not to mention a sizable portion of the GOP base — utterly disdain. A mark of political courage her speech was not.
Haley also goes on to say:
We need to be honest with each other, and with ourselves: while Democrats in Washington bear much responsibility for the problems facing America today, they do not bear it alone. There is more than enough blame to go around.
We as Republicans need to own that truth. We need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America’s leadership. We need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and why our government is broken.
And then we need to fix it.
Hello? Governor Haley seems utterly oblivious to the reality that the GOP’s problems in the eyes of the base are that the party leadership is endlessly rolling over for the Obama agenda, the liberal agenda. It is precisely the criticism that the GOP doesn’t fight. This was exactly the criticism of now deposed-Speaker John Boehner. To the extent that “our government is broken,” it is because the GOP plays the role of, as it were, a “partner in crime” with Democrats.
Haley goes on to say:
In many parts of society today, whether in popular culture, academia, the media, or politics, there’s a tendency to falsely equate noise with results.
Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.
No. No, no, no. What “some people” — aka the critics of the GOP Establishment — think is that one needs to be the most principled voice in the room. Neither Donald Trump or Ted Cruz have a loud voice. But they are talking principle. One doesn’t have to yell “a country has to have borders” to make the principled point as Trump does. One doesn’t have to yell when standing on the Senate floor requesting that the Republicans who ran on defunding Obamacare actually move to do it, as Cruz did.
Governor Haley has, alas, shot herself in the foot here. She has taken an excellent record and a future as a GOP star and cast her lot with the losing side — the folks who lose, and lose and lose again in national elections, and then come back and demand that the party take their advice and do it all over again.
It’s too bad.