Nikki Haley Is Nowhere Near Wacky Enough To Be The 2024 Republican Nominee
This morning, Politico published a deep dive on Nikki Haley somewhere near as long as Moby Dick. Either the whale or the book, you choose, doesn't really matter. The primary revelation from this profile, the one that everyone is talking about, is that Haley has realized the error of her ways when it comes to Donald Trump and regrets that she and her fellow Republicans ever followed him and his sinful, sinful ways. How she evolved from believing Trump wasn't causing any harm with his insistence that he won the election — citing her belief that it wasn't a lie because he believed it — to understanding the damage this belief caused when the insurrection happening on January 6.
"We need to acknowledge he let us down," she said. "He went down a path he shouldn't have, and we shouldn't have followed him, and we shouldn't have listened to him. And we can't let that ever happen again."
Of course, she still opposes impeaching him.
The profile is also very careful to state clearly that although Haley is now rebuking Trump over the events of January 6, and although she wants to be president in 2024, this is not some calculation — although of course it's a calculation. Haley thinks she's seeing the tides turn against Trump and believes that there is some way to reconcile Trumpism with the respectability she craves, to hold on to the voters Trump created while still returning to a kinder, gentler conservatism that doesn't say the quiet part out loud so much.
"President Trump has not always chosen the right words. He was wrong with his words in Charlottesville, and I told him so at the time," Haley told the RNC crowd, a ballroom stuffed with Trump supporters. "He was badly wrong with his words yesterday."
Then, she added: "And it wasn't just his words. His actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history." [...]
"Listen, when I walked in that RNC room, I was not expecting a whole bunch of love from that speech," she said. "I know how much people love Donald Trump. I know it. I feel it. Whether it's an RNC room or social media or talking to donors, I can tell you that the love they have for him is still very strong. That's not going to just fall to the wayside."
She added: "Nor do I think the Republican Party is going to go back to the way it was before Donald Trump. I don't think it should. I think what we need to do is take the good that he built, leave the bad that he did, and get back to a place where we can be a good, valuable, effective party. But at the same time, it's bigger than the party. I hope our country can come together and figure out how we pull this back."
Ooh! She's such a maverick!
With John McCain dead and Mitt Romney likely in no shape among his party to run again, Nikki Haley has been the Republican pundits have liked to point to as the real threat for [insert upcoming election here]. It's understandable. She's attractive, she dresses nicely, and when she talks, regardless of whatever nonsense she's actually saying, she at least sounds reasonable and normal. She's not only the kind of candidate they could see their Republican friends and relatives voting for, but she's the kind of candidate who wouldn't cause them to lose all respect for their Republican friends, were they to vote for her. They could say, "Hey, I disagree with her, but I can see why they'd find her appealing."
After all, she did say Charleston was bad and doesn't think the Confederate flag is great!
Nikki Haley, they should know, is no kind of threat in 2024, or any other year for that matter. Go find someone on the street wearing a sandwich board predicting the end of the world while screaming about socialism, and they would be more of a 2024 threat than Nikki Haley is. Or Mitt Romney, or Dead John McCain or John Kasich or even Marco Rubio or Policy Wonk Paul Ryan. The actual Republican base does not like any of those people and in fact despises many of them. They like the true believers. They liked Bush II, they now love Trump, they like tricorn hats and unhinged pillow salesmen and QAnon mole children. They are messy bitches who live for drama.
This did not start with Trump. Most of Trump's bullshit was recycled from Charles Lindbergh America First bullshit and John Birch Society bullshit, anyway. He was not the first ridiculous person they elected president. As you may recall, they elected a guy who did movies with chimpanzees and also thought movies were real life, because of how he talked real good. They also elected George W. Bush, who was an actual joke for years. And each time people would go, "Pssht, that's not going to happen. _____ is way too kooky!" And each time it did happen! Then, when they ran the supposed "normal" Republicans — the kind who just really loved war, thought poor people were kind of icky, felt women and LGBTQIA+ people didn't so much need "rights," and were very polite about all of that — those guys lost.
Republicans have gotten increasingly ridiculous with each passing year, and increasingly hateful. It's become increasingly important to them that those they elect be "true believers" and not fair-weather friends.
There is going to be a push among Democrats to ready themselves for a real challenge from Nikki Haley in 2024 — heck, we heard people saying that even before 2020. It's been the common wisdom among those in "the know." They are going to be cautious about not going too far lest, without Trump's crazy as a motivator, we lose more conservative voters to her. But I am going to tell you right now that unless she starts wearing Kleenex boxes on her feet and ranting about how Bill Gates is going to Mark of the Beast everyone, it ain't happening.
I don't know who the Republican nominee is gonna be, but it sure as hell is not going to be someone who can speak coherently to a Politico reporter for six hours.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse