When last we looked in on the South Carolina governor, she was buckling to the Left's anti-Confederate battle flag/anti-U.S. history demagoguery in disappointingly RINO fashion. It was particularly dismaying for me because Governor Haley had, in my estimation, the chance to be that for which Sarah Palin had the potential but squandered on celebrity and obnoxious anti-GOP fratricide instead: a true, stalwart, conservative American leader in the mold of Margaret Thatcher. Haley never showed up in the tabloids, Haley didn't quit halfway through her first term, Haley never tried to burn down her own party and sabotage her own cause in the process. She was, in short, awesome - until she caved on taking down "that flag".
So when I saw that she was going to be delivering the Republican rebuttal to State Of The One VIII, I didn't think much about it one way or the other but guessed that she'd be coming from an "establishmnet" perspective - which is not necessarily a bad thing, no matter what Tea Partiers want to believe.
In the space of the last twenty four hours, Nikki Haley has mended all my fences, showed herself to be shrewd as all get-out, and now may be in the veep conversation after all, and from the best direction of all.
It started during her rebuttal, when she took a unique opportunity not to bludgeon The One, which has been pointless for eight years as a practical matter and is (supposedly) no longer relevant at this point, in favor of tackling the gravest threat to the Republican Party today, Donald Trump. And this morning, she was not the slightest bit repentant, but doubled down:
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley defended her response to Tuesday’s State of the Union, confirming to Today’s Matt Lauer she was referring to Donald Trump as one of the “angriest voices” she mentioned.
“Mr. Trump has definitely contributed to what I think is just irresponsible talk,” she told Matt in an interview Wednesday.
She's not wrong, you know. Trump has exploited Tea Party anger, gotten a lot of conservatives to jettison their principles in favor of blasting their own party's leadership, at the same time that he has and is championing decidedly anti-conservative and anti-Republican ideas like wealth confiscation taxes, protectionism, single-payer socialized medicine, sucking up to Vladimir Putin, support for Planned Parenthood and abortion on demand, and, of course, amnesty for illegal aliens. There's no other way to describe that BUT "irresponsible talk," to be perfectly couth. Did she "go into business for herself" with her words or did she have the approval of the GOP leadership? The latter, most assuredly. But in this case, the "establishment," and Governor Haley, were right, from a conservative perspective. Which is what made Rush Limbaugh's silly rant this morning downright embarrassing. Ever since I supplanted El Rushbo in the accuracy department, he's just never been the same, has he?
Governor Haley was halfway back in my wheelhouse telling the much-needed truth about Trump. This devastating truth-telling about Marco Rubio, in a matter of speaking, buried her to the hilt:
Well, now. You can't pigeonhole her as an immigration squish after her tap-dancing on Trump's testicles now, can ya? This is an intelligent, conservative leader who is not buffaloed or bamboozled by "populist" foolishness, remembers and retains her principles, and recognizes the pathway to electoral victory next November, and that it will not come via Donald Trump or Marco Rubio.
That leaves, by process of elimination, a certain Texas senator you might have heard of once or twice. Which is fascinating, as I've been pondering of late who would make a suitable running mate for
The prospect did gob-smack Allahpundit, though:
Man alive. I would have bet cash money, and not a small amount, that Haley would eventually endorse Rubio in South Carolina. I’ve operated under the assumption for months that she’d be his VP if he wins the nomination.....Haley’s political persona has always seemed to me much more like Rubio’s than Ted Cruz’s — sunny, disinclined to bomb-throw, self-conscious about being a “next generation Republican,” willing to make common cause with the left even on fraught policy matters (immigration, the Confederate flag debate).
Yes, perhaps. But we've noted how Ted Cruz has, speaking of playbooks, been following that of Ronald Reagan lately, using humor in his advertising and even on the stump to not just make his issue points but sell his policy ideas. Or, in other words, sunny, optimistic, and "bomb-throwing" at the right targets and when necessary in order to create the necessary contrasts with the other side.
It's funny, really. Ever since the ObamaCare Defundageddon fiasco over two years ago I've defecated all over Ted Cruz's strategizing capabilities. But it is now very apparent that what was missing from my analysis was the proper context. One thing nobody can say about Ted Cruz is that he's stupid; he is, in fact, brilliant, including in his true purpose for that shutdown showdown debacle back in late 2013. Its purpose wasn't to get ObamaCare defunded - Cruz knew that was impossible - but rather to raise his national profile in preparation for his intended 2016 presidential campaign to come. Something that I pointed out, from a cynical direction, at the time. But you know what? It succeeded. It made his a household name, and gave him that launching platform from which to shoot for the White House.
Now look at how he's maneuvered his campaign over the past year. Ridiculously gargantuan field, lots of patient positioning and navigating, a consistent and disciplined conservative message, and steady employment of the Walker strategy vis-a-vie Trump of ignoring him, not engaging him in the public pissing matches he loves so much and that are his campaign bread and butter, hanging around his wake like a remora does a shark, just waiting for his campaign "thermal" to waft him up at the right time, which came with Ben Carson's collapse after the Paris and San Bernardino jihadist attacks. And now Cruz leads in Iowa, is competitive with Trump nationally, and has the billionaire slumlord worried, as evidenced by his resort to below-the-belt birtherism, from which Cruz masterfully pivoted to connect the dots to Trump's Democrat origins and still existent Donk connections.
And now landing the endorsement of Governor Haley in South Carolina, coming on the heels of a win in Iowa and an at least decent showing in New Hampshire, if not an outright win, would be pretty darned near a masterstroke. It's really difficult to see it as anything else:
The most striking thing about this is how gratuitous it is. It’s not a case of some reporter badgering her to answer, yes or no, if Rubio’s too far left on immigration. Haley volunteers it. And not only does she volunteer it, she uses the word “amnesty.” It’s practically an attack-ad soundbite. If she wanted to respectfully disagree with Rubio, she could have either said “I disagree with him about comprehensive immigration reform” or just omitted him here altogether....Haley didn’t have to say a word here about Rubio, and she certainly didn’t have to ding him on his biggest liability. The fact that she made a point of bringing it up makes me think she must have already quietly committed to another candidate....Occam’s razor says she’s on Team Cruz and is helping him out here with a splashy attack on his establishment [?] rival. In fact, she’s specifically asked here about whether Cruz, like Trump, is one of those “angry voices” she criticized in her SOTU rebuttal last night. Any Rubio fan would eagerly answer that in the affirmative. Haley’s answer: Nope, not really — but have I mentioned that Marco Rubio is pro-amnesty? Damn. [emphases added]
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
Could we do worse than a Cruz/Haley ticket? A helluva lot worse? Indeed, we can. And that's the outcome we desperately need to prevent.