Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Nurturing Nikki Haley

Michael Wolff would have been right- if only he had left out the word "private."

In a piece favorable to our UN ambassador, in January Politico's Eliana Johnson wrote

Nikki Haley became a trusted member of Donald Trump’s inner circle over the past year, but she's recently refamiliarized herself with a downside of professional success: rumors of an affair, this time with the president of the United States.

Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations calls the chatter “highly offensive” and “disgusting,” the result of what happens far too often to strong women.

The online speculation was instigated by “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff, who dropped hints on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” last week when he said he was “absolutely sure” Trump is having an affair — just not sure enough to write about it in his book. Wolff went on to say that discriminating readers would be able to determine the president's paramour by giving his book a close reading: “Now that I've told you, when you hit that paragraph, you're gonna say, 'Bingo.'”

Readers quickly homed in on a single sentence in the runaway best-seller, which has been criticized for everything from sloppy copy editing to gross factual inaccuracies. Wolff writes, “The president had been spending a notable amount of private time with Haley on Air Force One and was seen to be grooming her for a national political future.”

Believing both Hope Hicks and Kirstjen Nielsen were more plausible, I never believed that Wolff was referring to Haley. Nor did the author ever confirm that the paragraph Johnson cited was the one he was referring to.

But it's unnecessary to read between the lines to recognize that everyone and his uncle believe that the President was intentionally or at least inadvertently "grooming her for a national political future."

In just one of the bouquets thrown Haley's way in Tuesday's announcement that the UN Ambassador would be leaving her post, President Trump stated

I can speak for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — he thinks the world of Nikki. And so we’re all — we’re all happy for you, in one way, but we hate to — you’ll — hopefully, you’ll be coming back at some point.

But I just wanted to let you know — so at the end of the year, Nikki will be leaving. And we’ll be in constant touch, I know that. Whenever you have any ideas, you’re going to call me —

Lauded as having "been fantastic," Haley returned the favor, pledging to campaign in 2020 for the president who

proved that — whether it was with the chemical weapons in Syria; whether it’s with NATO — saying that other countries have to pay their share; I mean, whether it’s the trade deals, which has been amazing. They get that the President means business, and they follow through with that.


And I do want to say that it’s not just the President I want to thank. The family in general — the First Lady has been nothing but very, very kind to me.

I can’t say enough good things about Jared and Ivanka. Jared is such a hidden genius that no one understands. I mean, to re-do the NAFTA deal the way he did. What I’ve done working with him on the Middle East Peace Plan — it is so unbelievably well done.

Moreover, everyone seems to agree that she will have to be resisted being crowned President of the USA once Trump leaves the scene. Reuters' Ginger Gibson breathlessly captures the prevailing mood as she exults

Those who know Haley from her days as a popular governor of South Carolina believe she is in an enviable position.

“What she’s done as U.N, ambassador has not only raised her own profile, which was already high, but she also raised the profile of the job and she’s left some big shoes to fill,” said Rob Godfrey, a former political aide in South Carolina.

Haley has received high marks for her U.N. job performance. An April poll by Quinnipiac University found that 63 percent of voters approved of Haley, including 55 percent of Democrats....

Haley, who had scant experience in diplomacy before taking the U.N. job, now emerges as a dream candidate, one who figured out how to work with the voluble Trump without upstaging him, but would also buck her boss on issues that mattered to her.

Were she Catholic and male, she'd have to resist being elected Pope.Foreign policy expert Peter Feaver gushes

Instead, if we must look for political positioning instead of merely celebrating that someone answered the call to national service and then served honorably and ably, consider this: As governor of South Carolina, Haley more than checked the box of executive experience and political campaign chops. As ambassador to the United Nations, she more than checked the box of foreign-policy experience. What she lacks for an arduous run for president in 2024 is the kind of independent wealth that many successful party nominees have enjoyed. She now has plenty of time to check that box, too.

William Kristol has even suggested naively that Haley has 2020 potential, tweeting" Macron resigned from Cabinet in 2016. Elected president a year later. Will be two years for Nikki." (Kristol paved the way for an Obama victory in 2008 by pushing Sarah Palin on John McCain. He likes public officials who quit mid-term.)

Michael Wolff probably should have stated "we should not be assuming it is Haley who has had an affair with Donald Trump." Still, it appears he understood what few others did at the time, now that Nikki Haley has been allowed to leave on her own terms with praise and plaudits beyond what the President would offer anyone not named Trump and under age 45.

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