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2020

#2020: Nikki Haley’s Star Is Dimming (For Now)

Don’t count her out, though …

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United States ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Nikki Haley has been all the rage on the national stage since she was appointed to her post by U.S. president Donald Trump.

The darling of the national neoconservative (a.k.a. warmonger) establishment, Haley has become immensely popular for her tough talk at the UN – even when it turned out she was talking out of school.

Or out of her, um … 

The former South Carolina governor is the American war party’s top 2020 hopeful, although her path to the White House is currently blocked by the man who hired her.  And as Trump made perfectly clear during a rally in “First in the South” South Carolina this week, he isn’t going anywhere.

Trump is riding high at the moment.  For this first time ever a majority of Americans approve of his handling of the economy, according to the results of a new CNBC survey.

Meanwhile, Haley finds herself in a bit of a funk …

According to CNN’s Stephen Schlesinger, Haley’s star “which was burning so brightly in the first year of the Trump administration, is beginning to dim significantly in the second year.”

Specifically, Schlesinger noted that Haley was omitted from the historic summit between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un earlier this month – as well as the opening of the new American embassy in Jerusalem.

In addition to these high-profile slights, Trump’s appointment of John Bolton as his new national security advisor and Michael Pompeo as secretary of state put Haley on the outside looking in at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

“These two men are hard-headed bureaucratic in-fighters – Pompeo a former CIA director and congressman of deeply conservative convictions and Bolton a far-right ideologue,” noted Schlesinger.  “Both are also savvy operators in the media and are based in Washington DC, making them closer to Trump than Haley is.”

“Neither man is likely to give Haley any further free rein at the United Nations,” he added.

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Nor is Trump likely to intervene on Haley’s behalf.  In fact, he slighted Haley again this week when he neglected to mention her during his visit to her home state in support of Henry McMaster – the man who replaced her as governor.

Trump rattled off the names of numerous Palmetto State elected officials – including his erstwhile archenemy Lindsey Graham – but made no mention of Haley.

Ouch …

What’s a girl to do?

“Having achieved great visibility as the US ambassador to the UN, she might at some point have to consider resigning from her post to give her the space to decide on a possible presidential run,” Schlesinger noted.  “Or she could tough it out at the UN through 2020 and then ask for a higher role if Trump gets a second term.  Some might even say that she could use her cabinet access to Trump more aggressively.  The sorry fact, though, is that Trump no longer relies on her as his leading foreign policy expert.  He has Pompeo and Bolton for that.”

Trump and Haley have had plenty of ups and downs in the seventeen months they have worked together.  The president was livid with his ambassador last December when she appeared on CBS to argue that women who have accused the president of sexual harassment in the past “should be heard.”  Meanwhile on the policy front, Trump’s administration fitted Haley for a choke collar a year ago in an effort to keep her “on message” in discussing American policy vis-à-vis several global hot spots.

Earlier this year, Trump personally intervened to block the hiring of Haley’s top strategist – #NeverTrumper Jon Lerner – by U.S. vice president Mike Pence.

Haley cannot be written off, though.  She remains immensely popular in the polls and has some deep-pocketed support behind her as she plots her next move.

And if the economy goes south next year (as many are predicting) and Trump’s own star dims, watch out …

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