Thursday, March 7, 2024

Nikki Haley is out and the GOP migration begins

 I was tempted to title this post “Nikki Haley’s campaign is dead and I don’t feel so good myself,” but I wasn’t sure how many people would get the reference to the great Georgia writer Lewis Grizzard’s book, “Elvis is Dead and I Don’t Feel So Good Myself.” Grizzard wrote a humor column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for years, and if you want a chuckle, I recommend googling his books. You can read them if you want, but even the titles are classics.

But I digress… in the first paragraph even. Today’s missive is about Nikki Haley’s exit from the primary.

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On Wednesday, one day after the Super Tuesday primaries, Haley gracefully bowed out of the Republican nomination process. The most notable factor of Haley’s short exit speech was that, unlike the other failed Republican hopefuls, she did not rush to bend the knee and kiss Donald Trump’s ring.

“I have always been a conservative Republican and always supported the Republican nominee,” Haley said. “But on this question, as she did on so many others, Margaret Thatcher provided some good advice when she said, quote, ‘Never just follow the crowd. Always make up your own mind.’”

“It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond it who did not support him,” she continued. “And I hope he does that. At its best, politics is about bringing people into your cause, not turning them away. And our conservative cause badly needs more people. This is now his time for choosing.”

Haley may be withholding her support of Donald Trump (at least for now), but others are not. Soon-to-be-not-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell endorsed The Former Guy in a party-over-all statement of support.

“It is abundantly clear that former President Trump has earned the requisite support of Republican voters to be our nominee for President of the United States,” McConnell said. “It should come as no surprise that as nominee, he will have my support.”

Others are moving in that direction. Erick Erickson, my old boss at The Resurgent and a sometimes Trump critic, posted on the platform formerly known as Twitter, “Democrats say ‘But the GOP supports insurrection.’ Hello, but the Party of Jefferson and Jackson literally started the actual Civil War. So please spare me the lectures. Both parties are pretty contemptible these days and neither has a claim to moral superiority.”

This attempt at moral relativism falls flat since the Civil War ended 159 years ago and no modern Democrats were part of the secessionist movement. On the other hand, the January 6 insurrection was less than four years ago and in that time the entire Republican Party has moved from condemnation to rationalizing and minimizing the act.

Going further, it is the modern Republican Party that zealously defends the Confederate legacy and flies Confederate flags. It is also the modern Republican Party that can’t seem to decide whether it wants to make America great again or destroy the Union through secession.

What we will see in the next few months - and are seeing already - is a reemergence of the anti-anti-Trump movement. If the anti-Trump movement opposes Donald Trump, the anti-anti-Trump movement pretends to be skeptical of Trump but actively opposes the Never Trumpers. In the past, I have often found the anti-anti-Trumpers to be more hypocritical and vicious than people who are open Trump supporters.

A case in point is National Review’s Dan McLaughlin who, also on the former bird app, tweeted another false equivalence, “Do you help Trump destroy the party, or do you help Biden destroy the country?”

As President Obama used to say, “I reject this false choice.”

McLaughlin’s post is a first step towards rationalizing support for Trump, who he has been critical of and claims to oppose. He minimizes the damage Trump can do by confining the threat presented by The Former Guy to “the party” while alleging that Biden is destroying “the country.”

McLaughlin further explains, “We have very strong institutional antibodies against the worst of Trump - so strong, in fact, that multiple prosecutors are torching the rule of law to get at him. We have far weaker bulwarks against what the Biden Administration does to the law & Constitution. With Manchin & Sinema gone, the dams will burst.”

I think he’s wrong on both counts. What McLaughlin does not say is that Republicans have opposed any attempts by those institutions to hold Trump accountable to the point of attacking and attempting to tear down those guardrails. In fact, just yesterday Speaker Mike Johnson called for defunding the police agencies that have worked to highlight Trump’s crimes and indict the former president.

When it comes to Biden, I can disagree on policy, but the Biden Administration has accepted the rule of law. It may stretch the meaning of the law (as most administrations have done if we are honest), but it has not engaged in wholesale attempts to destroy the institutions that limit its power.

There is no truth to the claim that the absence of Manchin and Sinema would burst the dam blocking the progressive agenda because the filibuster will still exist. President Biden, unlike Donald Trump, has resisted removing the filibuster despite Republican fearmongering in the Trump Administration that Democrats would surely nuke the filibuster if they ever regained power.

It is the attempts by Republicans to attack the constitutional foundations of our Republic and tear down our guardrail institutions that threaten to destroy America. The most pressing danger that we face comes from politicians and pundits who enable a leader who claims “complete and total immunity” to flout the Constitution and the law. In other words, Republicans have become exactly what they accuse Democrats of being.

I don’t know whether Nikki Haley will eventually endorse Trump or not. A few weeks ago, I would have thought so. Now, I’d say the chances are slimmer but still likely.

Whether she endorses or not, Haley’s career as a Republican is probably over. Conservatives who bow to Trump seldom find that it has helped their careers. Just ask Ted Cruz. (J.D. Vance may be an exception.)

As Haley seems to realize, the party has moved on from traditional conservatism to Trumpism. The GOP has no use for a limited-government, free-trade, national-security constitutionalist when it’s so much more fun to own the libs with Big Government legislation and plan an economy to help your friends and hurt your enemies. And peacenik isolationism is the order of the day for Republicans. America first and our interests stop at the border (except when foreign policy can be used to club the other side)!

The Biden campaign is already reaching out to Haley voters, many of whom say that they will not support Donald Trump, while Trump threatened in January that Haley supporters would be “permanently barred” from the MAGA Republican camp. In reality, both sides will fight over the donations and votes from Haley backers. Trump may not want anti-Trump Republicans in the party, but he will cheerfully accept their votes and money.

As I’ve said a few times in recent years, we are living through a political realignment and Haley’s party has realigned out from under her. Republicans no longer hold to her values or even respect them.

And then there are the throwbacks like the North Carolina Trump supporter who said he could never support Haley because “she don’t [sic] have no balls to scratch.” He added, “All a woman is good for in my book is having babies and taking care of the house.”

It’s a brave new MAGA world, although I question whether he would place the same restrictions on Marjorie Taylor Greene or Lauren Boebert.

The Super Tuesday results in which Haley won about a quarter to a third of Republican votes show that not everyone in the party is thrilled with the GOP’s new MAGA direction, but like it or not, MAGA is in charge. The question now is whether Republican dissidents will get on board the Trump train or vote Democrat to prevent Trump and his ilk from tearing down our institutions and possibly destroying the country.

Sometimes doing the right thing for the country means forsaking the party. Unfortunately, I don’t see many Republicans who are patriotic enough to put their country above their careers and their party.

Maybe Nikki Haley will continue to lead the way in that respect. Maybe she won’t return to the fold. Why bother going back to a party that no longer reflects your beliefs? That’s been my position since 2016.

Maybe Haley will, as a Twitter friend put it, burn the boats and plant her flag in the uncharted ground of a new conservative party.

I don’t know what course Haley will take, but I do expect that Republicans will face a difficult general election campaign as the focus moves toward Trump. An old Southern saying opines “In the South, we don’t hide crazy. We put it on display.” That’s the course that Republican voters have chosen for their party.

It’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off.

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HALEY BYE-KU: In the past, I have continued a tradition from James Taranto’s old Best of the Web Today column in the Wall Street Journal in which we mark the passing of presidential campaigns with a bye-ku, a political goodbye in haiku form.

Nikki found that her

Party went crazy and left

Her alone and cold

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DEAN PHILLIPS BYE-KU: President Biden’s chief challenger, Minnesota congressman Dean Phillips, also bowed out of the race, endorsing Biden in a Twitter post and extending an olive branch to Haley voters.

Nice guy Dean Phillips

Found Dems cared less for Joe’s age

Than fear of Trump Two

From the Racket News 

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