The media has begun to do what it was expected to do in hit piece after piece: attack Nikki Haley.
Nothing that the former South Carolina governor has done has been spared. Some charged that she conveniently chose her first name to appear more white, although Nikki is a typical middle name in Punjabi communities in North India.
Abortion rights activists found her too right-wing because she signed a 2016 bill to ban all abortions after 19 weeks. Never mind that 13 other states at the time - Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin - had signed similar bans into law. And after the Supreme Court Dobbs decision last summer overturning a constitutional right to abortion and returning the matter to the states, 24 states have some form of abortion restriction in place. We wonder how rules that nearly half the country's states adopt can make Haley right-wing.
Some identity-politics watchdogs grudgingly conceded that Haley was sensitive to African American priorities by signing a measure in 2015 to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state Capitol after it had flown for 54 years. The move invited mixed reactions in a proud state that gallantly fought on the losing side during the Civil War. But Haley showed that she was a leader on the issue following the mass shooting of nine members of a historically Black church in Charleston, a fact acknowledged by her state's senior senator, Lindsey Graham. "After the horrific tragedy in Charleston, our state could have gone down one of two paths, division or reconciliation," Graham said in a statement. "I am thankful we chose the path of reconciliation." But no liberal complimented her forethought five long years before George Floyd.
Few liberals also praised her for appointing Tim Scott, a charismatic Black leader, to a Senate seat, in one of her first national acts as governor. Her decision was in 2013 to replace the white conservative firebrand, Jim DeMint. At the time, there had been only one other instance of a governor appointing a Black individual to the Senate (Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich appointed Ronald Burris to replace President-elect Barack Obama), but replacing a Black politician with another is not particularly bold. Besides, this appointment became a considerable controversy as there were rumors that Blagojevich had been paid for his choice.
The easiest thing that Haley could have done was to appoint another white man or woman in a state that is reliably Republican. But her choice of Tim Scott launched a promising Black career as he easily won a special election in 2014 and was elected to full terms in 2016 and 2022. Scott was himself attacked by the national media when the G.O.P. selected him to deliver their rebuttal to President Biden after his first address to Congress. When Scott insisted that the new Georgia voter law was not racist and was an improvement over liberal states' voting rights, the left ridiculed him. After the 2022 midterms, we know that more people voted than ever in Georgia and none of the "Jim Crow 2.0 allegations" that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris levied came to pass. Even habitual whiner Stacey Abrams, who rode into national prominence for being an election denier in 2018, conceded that she lost a rematch to Brian Kemp. Such is Scott's stardom that, in irony, he may challenge Haley for the Republican nomination.
Sunday's N.Y. Times lead political story by Katie Glueck and Lisa Lerer was another hit piece on Haley and the entire G.O.P. Focusing on identity politics as they often do, the reporters' thesis was that Haley is facing a major test of her party's views on sexism and female leaders. The article conveniently confused fealty to former President Trump and sexism, making it another example of poor journalism intended to satisfy the newspaper's liberal constituency.
Scores of female leaders have made it to the highest ranks of the Republican Party. Kristi Noem, reelected as South Dakota's governor last Fall after becoming the first woman elected to the state's highest office in 2018, had served as the lone U.S. representative for South Dakota from 2011 to 2019. The Michigan G.O.P. last week appointed Kristina Karamo as the party's chair. Arkansas elected its first female governor (Sarah Huckabee Sanders), and Ronna McDaniel was reelected chair of the national G.O.P. All four women are strong Trump supporters. The New York Times' favorite Republican, Liz Cheney, failed because she tried to make a political career attacking Trump. Had she supported Trump in Congress, she could have risen to become Speaker of the House, her dream role, when Kevin McCarthy had to hold 14 ballots before being chosen. Instead, Cheney is languishing somewhere in the political wilderness.
At CPAC Dallas, Nikki Haley shared her less-than-2% popularity vote for the 2024 nomination with Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Kristi Noem, and Mike Pompeo. Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were in the lead. But 18 months before the election, it is foolish to rule Haley out as a formidable contender. Trump's victory is not assured, and the media is angling for DeSantis to somehow trip and fall.
The Dems are scared of Haley, which is why their war room is putting out press statements each time Haley speaks. Expect the Dems' media friends to continue attacking Haley in the months ahead.