Defending Your Candidacy

If Nikki Haley announced she was running for president in the woods, would anyone hear it?

That's a trick question: Haley announced publicly she was running for president, and it still seems no one heard it. While Politico and Haley herself have been trying to will it into existence, her appearance on "Fox News Sunday" with Shannon Bream is a great indication it's already not going well.

Bream began the interview, much like administering the Voight-Kampff Test for replicants, by setting a baseline at how "President Haley" would handle China's President Xi. But even at this baseline, Haley seemed to flounder.

HALEY: Not the way President Biden is handling it, I'll tell you that. There's nothing wrong with talking to China. The problem is what we say to them. [...]

Haley continued the Republican obsession with the Chinese balloons while never actually answering what she would do differently, outside of the usual old conservative talking points about "Democrats are weak." She did, in the middle of her China rant, squeeze in a COVID-19 dog whistle.

HALEY: [...] They are lying about the balloon the same way they've lied about Covid. [...]

Haley will contort herself to cater to the crazy side of the Republican Party because she has no actual core beliefs. She wasn't some brave new Republican in 2015, as Mitt Romney's old consultants believe, but she was playing to what she believed voters wanted THEN. 2023 Nikki Haley would not only never lower the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina state Capitol, she would probably declare a Confederate Memorial Month to push back against "cancel culture." Hell, the 2010 version of Haley was already there, thus proving that Haley will always take the path of least resistance.

It's this inherent cowardice that also prevents Haley from answering the most basic question of any candidate for any office.

BREAM: [...]Why you versus anybody else in the GOP field? You know they [Wall Street Journal] are talking about the fact you say "America First," "America should be powerful"... those are things that any GOP candidate is going to say. So...why YOU?

HALEY: Why not me?

Haley then proceeded to read out her very underwhelming stump speech.

HALEY: I am the wife of a combat veteran. I'm a mother of two children, one who's getting married, and I see how hard it is for her to look at buying a home. One that's in college, I see what he's dealing with "woke education." You know, I'm the daughter of immigrant parents who are upset by what is happening in the border. I don't want to wait for someone else to fix this. I want to make sure we get in there and fix this. I'm not a lawyer, I'm an accountant. I've never worked in DC, and I think it's time that we start putting a fire under what's happening in Congress. [...]

So basically, Haley is 2015 Marco Rubio. Similar sales pitch, similar lack of charisma and similar inability to even point out what makes them uniquely qualified. Except for faux fears the daughter of a prominent politician won't get a big enough home on Kiawah Island or her son's dreaded "woke education," it is reheated Republican leftovers in a "new generation" package. Haley was also Trump's U.N. Ambassador, so this idea she's "never worked in Washington" is absurd.

Haley continued by bringing up the old term limits talking point that Newt Gingrich's 1994 "Contract On With America" Republican Party tried before most of those same Republicans ignored it when it was THEIR turn for re-election. This includes Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins and most recently Ted Cruz. (BTW, if you find yourself pitching a Ted Cruz plan, go back to the drawing board)

But Haley's most ingenious plan to win the nomination is a loophole she hopes could eliminate her opponents rather than defeat them electorally or ideologically.

HALEY: [...] I think we need mental competency tests for people over the age of seventy-five. [...]

While this seems like a dig at President Biden, the man who is simultaneously a doddering old man and a genius who walked them into an entitlements trap during the last State of the Union address, it seems to also conveniently eliminate the former "Man-Person-Woman-Camera-TV" candidate himself. Which would be perfect, because it seems that Haley wants none of that heat while Donald Trump has no problem describing Haley's chances on his Truth Social account.

When your candidacy looks to have the same longevity as room temperature skim milk out on sunny day, maybe those competency tests aren't going to save you — much less get you out of a Republican primary.

At this point, a corporeal Albert Brooks could defend his candidacy (and misjudgments) better than Nikki Haley.

Have a week.

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Michael Mora

Your friendly neighborhood Puerto Rican Political Freelance Writer for @wonkette. Pop Culture observer, Amateur Movie reviewer & Comics fan. Former Active Duty Marine. All opinions are mine only.


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