Monday, November 11, 2019


David Frum doesn't really get it.

Frum notes that Haley has been critical of Trump in the past.
After Donald Trump gloated over a burglary at the home of the late Representative Elijah Cummings in Baltimore, Haley tweeted, “This is so unnecessary.” The dissents, however, were always circumspect, and never touched on the central scandals of the administration. Haley left her possibilities open for future decision.
That's the audacious part. Putting any daylight between yourself and Trump is risky in the modern -- and, yes, future -- GOP.

Now she seems to have made up her mind: As The Washington Post notes, she's siding with Trump and revealing that two prominent White House figures tried unsuccessfully to recruit her for an anti-Trump plot.
Former secretary of state Rex Tillerson and former White House chief of staff John F. Kelly sought to recruit her to work around and subvert Trump, but she refused, Haley writes in a new book, “With All Due Respect” ...

“Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country,” Haley wrote.

“It was their decisions, not the president’s, that were in the best interests of America, they said. The president didn’t know what he was doing,” Haley wrote of the views the two men held.
Frum notes that Haley sat for an interview with the Post, in which she's mildly critical of Trump on Ukraine but is firmly opposed to impeachment. She says:
So, do I think it’s not good practice to talk to foreign governments about investigating Americans? Yes. Do I think the president did something that warrants impeachment? No, because the aid flowed.

And, in turn, the Ukrainians didn’t follow up with the investigation ...
Frum writes:
... she’s making the same bet on the 2024 future being placed by [Mike] Pence, by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, by senators such as Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, and by governors such as Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida: There is no percentage in even whispering a criticism of anything Trump says or does. On some issues, such as the sellout of the Kurds, it is permissible to assert a diverging position—but even then, there must be no direct or even indirect criticism of Trump. He is the party’s great unquestionable.
Yeah, and? Why is that "audacious"?

In fact, she's running more of a risk by expressing mild criticism of Trump at all on some occasions. The reaction to Haley's memoir and book tour is positive, if warily so, over at Free Republic, my usual bellwether for rank-and-file GOP thinking:
Haley has been a pleasant surprise. She has her detractors here but on balance she sits comfortably on the positive side of the ledger.


She just went up 10 points in my book. I think she was excellent at the UN, the best I've ever seen.


Not completely sold on her but this certainly adds positive Mark’s to my opinion of her.


Haley’s stock keeps going up.

I know she had the flag incident as Governor, which could have been bad advice. But based on her U.N. performance, she’s exactly the kind of fighter we need.
Though there are detractors:
And we should believe her because...?


So, she quit when by her own statements, the president needed her the most?

I don’t know....


There are reasons to disbelieve Nikki Haley. She has too much baggage. She lied about removing the battle flag. During that enormous flood in her state, she lied about her whereabouts - she took off. She has lied about her religion - there is the photo of her and hubby at the feet of her guru. And who can forget her response to Obama’s State of the Union address


She smells the way the wind blows - towards re-election. Another opportunist.
That's why I say the risk is her bet-hedging. There's far less risk in being a diehard Trump supporter.

What will happen to those who back Trump unreservedly if the nation eventually arrives at a consensus opinion that Trump's presidency was indefensible? A young Senator Bob Dole tirelessly defended Richard Nixon during his battle to save his presidency -- and although Dole barely survived his next election, he went on to be regarded by the Washington establishment as a wise statesman worthy of the presidency. The defenders of the disgraced George W. Bush haven't been forced into retirement, even though Bush is denounced by the left and the current Republican president. (The Obamas and Ellen DeGeneres still treat him well, and his paintings have quite a few admirers.)

With her occasional criticism of Trump, Haley is hoping she'll be in the establishment's good graces if Trump falls -- but she doesn't need the establishment to win the GOP nomination, any more than Trump did, and pursuing its favor undoubtedly hurts her with the base. (The party will rally around whoever wins the nomination, just the way it did in 2016.)

Incidentally, Haley's book is likely to be a hit -- it's currently #12 on Amazon's bestseller list -- but it's not the biggest book on the list by a Republican. That honor goes to the #3 book: Triggered by Donald Trump Jr. (#1 is A Warning by Anonymous.)

Maybe that's a preview of the 2024 GOP presidential race.

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