By Dick Polman
I’ll go out on a limb and take a wild guess that you didn’t watch Nikki Haley make a fool of herself on TV last weekend. I was reminded of a sentence penned centuries ago by none other than the Marquis de Sade: “Those who have no principles are never more dangerous than when they reach the age when they lose all sense of shame.”
Only a truly vacuous candidate can bring to mind the Marquis de Sade.
Haley won pundit praise for her recent GOP debate performance – at times she sounded saner and smarter than some of her rivals (an admittedly low bar). But then she hit the wall. She described Inmate #P01135809 as “the most disliked politician in America,” someone who would not be electable in 2024 – but she signaled, by raising her hand, that she’d still support Trump as the party’s nominee, even if he were criminally convicted prior to the election.
How was it possible for someone of allegedly sound mind to declare it would be nuts to fall in line behind a convicted felon…and then proceed to say that she’d fall in line behind the convicted felon? How can someone see Trump so clearly for what he is…and then proceed to shove her head up her own rear end?
She did it again this week.
On CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” host Robert Costa asked: “Do you stand by your decision to hold up your hand on (the debate) stage and back Trump? Should he be the nominee and be a convicted felon?”
Haley: “What you saw were candidates on that stage said that they would do exactly what they signed and pledged to do, which is support the Republican nominee. That’s what we are saying…I will tell you that any Republican is better than what Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are doing.”
Costa: “Even if they’re convicted of a crime?”
Haley: “You are implying that the American people are not smart. The American people are not going to vote for a convicted criminal. The American people are going to vote for someone who can win a general election. I have faith in the American people. They know what they need to do. And so, I think that, yes, I will support the Republican nominee always…”
Let’s try to unpack that.
On the one hand, she says it would be wrong to support a convicted felon and that the American people are “smart” enough not to vote for one. On the other hand, she would “always” support whoever the Republicans nominate, even if it’s a convicted felon, and, if that were the case, she would willfully breach her own “faith” in the “smart” American people and try to persuade them to be stupid.
Or something like that.
Haley also said, a few minutes later, that Republicans want to “go back to law and order,” which is a tad odd because it doesn’t quite jibe with her willingness to support someone who, at the present time, stands criminally accused in four court jurisdictions of committing 91 felonies; someone who has even been helping to raise money for the Jan. 6 terrorists – all of which is the precise antithesis of “law and order.”
But none of this is surprising, given the fact that Haley is little more than a weathervane who whirls with the prevailing winds. Back in 2016, she said, “Donald Trump is everything we teach our kids not to do in kindergarten.” Then she went to work for him and later, “I was absolutely thrilled to see him win.”
She has also said stuff like this (yes, she really has said stuff like this): “He would never knowingly lie…I understand that genuinely, to his core, he believes he was wronged (in the 2020 election results). This is not him making it up…This would be different if he was being deceptive…I mean at some point, give the man a break. I mean, move on if you truly are about moving on.”
She was “disgusted” (her word) with Trump’s behavior during the Jan. 6 insurrection, until she was not. On the one hand, she said in 2021: “When I tell you I’m angry, it’s an understatement. (Trump) 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.”
But a few months later, Haley’s spine shrank again. She said simply that “President Trump’s always been opinionated.” And today she’s willing to support the guy who’s been criminally charged with fomenting the coup plot that culminated in the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Would Nikki Haley, presumably having failed as a presidential candidate, lobby for a job in the administration of a convicted felon? Why bother to ask. If anyone can trump the Marquis de Sade, it’s Groucho Marx:
“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them – well, I have others.”
Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at [email protected]