Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. The early stages of the 2024 race have begun.
Nikki Haley has announced her 2024 candidacy. Stuart Stevens at NYT:
As governor, her defining action was signing legislation removing the Confederate flag from the State Capitol. This came after the horrific massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, and after social media photos surfaced of the murderer holding Confederate flags. Ms. Haley compared the pain South Carolina Black people felt to the pain she experienced when, as a young girl named Nimrata Nikki Randhawa, she saw her immigrant father racially profiled as a potential thief at a store in Columbia. “I remember how bad that felt,” Ms. Haley told CNN in 2015. “That produce stand is still there, and every time I drive by it, I still feel that pain. I realized that that Confederate flag was the same pain that so many people were feeling.”
Then came Donald “You had some very fine people on both sides” Trump, and by 2019 Ms. Haley was defending the Confederate flag. In an interview that December, Ms. Haley told the conservative radio host Glenn Beck that the Charleston church shooter had “hijacked” the Confederate flag and that “people saw it as service, sacrifice and heritage.”
In her 2019 book, “With All Due Respect,” the sort of autobiography candidates feel obligated to produce before launching a presidential campaign, Ms. Haley mentions Mr. Trump 163 times, overwhelmingly complimentary. In one lengthy passage, she insists that she was not referencing him in her 2016 Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech, when she called on Americans to resist “the siren call of the angriest voices.” It is always sad to see politicians lack the courage to say what should be said, but sadder still to see them speak up and later argue any courageous intent was misinterpreted.
It didn’t have to be this way. No one forced Ms. Haley to accept Mr. Trump after he bragged about assaulting women in the “Access Hollywood” tape. No one forced her to defend the Confederate flag. No one forced her to assert Mr. Trump had “lost any sort of political viability” not long after the Capitol riot, then reverse herself, saying she “would not run if President Trump ran,” then prepare to challenge Mr. Trump in the primary. There is nothing new or novel about an ambitious politician engaging in transactional politics, but that’s a rare trifecta of flip-flop-flip.
There is a great future behind Nikki Haley. She will never be the voice of truth she briefly was in 2016, and she will never be MAGA enough to satisfy the base of her party. But no one should feel sorry for Ms. Haley. It was her choice.