Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley was flying high last week. All the momentum in the 2024 Republican presidential primary – or at least the undercard battle (way) behind former president Donald Trump – was at her back. The chief executive officer of the nation’s largest bank had just declared his support for her candidacy, claiming she was the only one who could fix America’s economy.
Haley was also positioned to inherit most – if not all – of the establishment GOP backing previously flowing to former candidate (and fellow Palmetto Stater) Tim Scott, who dropped out of the race a week ago. This included, we were reliably informed, the vast majority of Scott’s impressive “First in the South” presidential primary apparatus.
But then Haley pulled a massive boner. In an interview with Fox News, her zeal for zionism got the better of her when she used a recent rise in online anti-semitism to call for a national social media registration mandate.
“Every person on social media should be verified, by their name,” Haley said. “That’s, first of all, it’s a national security threat,”
The reaction to such Orwellian overkill was swift – and severe. From the right, center and left, Haley was roundly (and rightly) pilloried – not just for the sheer lunacy of her proposal, but for the fact it exposed her as an overt authoritarian. The definitive rebuke came courtesy of columnist Jack Shafer, who derided Haley’s “nutty call” – referring to it as a “scheme (that) would easily violate certain legal rights to privacy established by the courts.”
“Haley’s education must have forgone not only law but history,” Shafer wrote for Politico. “The right to anonymous speech goes back to the founding of our country when anonymous pamphleteers made their case for independence.”
“Instead of campaigning against anonymous speech, Haley should bow to her rivals .. and endorse it,” Shafer concluded.
How will Haley’s blunder impact the 2024 race? You’ve come to the right place to find out. FITSNews founding editor Will Folks and political columnist Mark Powell compile the Palmetto Political Stock Index each week to assess the impact of precisely such potentially defining moments. We follow the rising and falling fortunes of individuals and institutions on the national stage as well as the interplay of state and national politics in our early-voting South Carolina home, which hosts the quadrennial “First in the South” Republican presidential primary (and the “First in the Nation” Democratic primary).
Remember, our index is simply an assessment of how our subjects fared over the past seven days. Positive reports don’t reflect endorsements, and negative ones aren’t indicative of vendettas. We just call ‘em like we see ‘em. Also, just because your favorite/ least favorite politician isn’t on this week’s report that doesn’t mean we aren’t still tracking them. Look for them in upcoming editions … and, of course, you can check prior installments to see how we’ve covered them in the past.
Obviously Haley’s is trading down in the aftermath of her social media blunder, but how are other political stocks faring this week? To the index!
South Carolina’s junior senator called a wrap on his presidential bid last Sunday in an announcement so unexpected it even caught his campaign staff off-guard. After 174 days on the campaign trail, three GOP debates, countless rubber chicken dinners and gallons of less-than-savory diner coffee, Tim Scott finally faced up to the inevitable: In the GOP of 2023, there’s simply no room for any presidential candidate not named Donald Trump.
Faced with internal polling showing virtually no path to victory, Scott probably wondered to himself “Do I really want to spend December and January traipsing across the frozen tundra of Iowa and New Hampshire with zero chance of success?”
The warmer coastal climes of Charleston, S.C. – and the prospect of spending more time with his new girlfriend, Mindy Noce – no doubt presented a far more pleasing alternative.
The scuttlebutt in political circles says Haley – who obviously had a rough week for other reasons – wasn’t a happy camper. She’s reportedly furious Scott didn’t endorse her candidacy on his way out. After all, she appointed him to his U.S. Senate seat back in 2013. But these one-time political allies have drifted apart in recent years. Scott’s “snub” won’t be forgotten, though, as anyone who knows Haley knows she is remarkably adept at holding grudges.
Seriously … like Khomeini.
Setting aside whether Scott would have made a good president, this much is certain: We are sadly stuck in an age where thoughtful political discourse is drowned out by a turbocharged contest to see which shrill voice can out-scream (or out-whine) all the others. There’s just no place for Scott’s kinder, gentler message of hope and optimism. And America is worse off as a result of that.
The political gods just keep smiling on the former president’s campaign. Word came late last week that a federal judge in Colorado rejected a bid to keep him off that state’s primary ballot. Democrats have pinned their 2024 hopes on a legally dubious claim that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution disqualified Trump from running for president because of his activities on January 6, 2021. Passed immediately after the Civil War, the amendment was partly intended to keep ex-Confederates from returning to Washington. (Spoiler alert: They came back anyway).
Colorado district judge Sarah B. Wallace ruled this argument was a no-go since Trump isn’t an “officer of the United States.”
On the polling front, the former president continues to rule the Republican roost by a country mile. As of this writing, FiveThirtyEight’s “updating average” of polls has Trump drawing the support of 59.4 percent of GOP voters – ahead of Ron DeSantis (13.8 percent), Nikki Haley (9.3 percent) and Vivek Ramaswamy (5.2 percent). According to RealClearPolitics‘ aggregate data, Trump is backed by 58.9 percent of GOP voters – ahead of DeSantis (14.4 percent), Haley (10.7 percent) and Ramaswamy (4.7 percent).
As FITSNews exclusively reported last week, Trump will be in Columbia, S.C. on Saturday for the Palmetto Bowl – the annual South Carolina-Clemson football showdown. There was no word at press time on whether Haley – a Clemson graduate and longtime Tiger fan – would also attend. We have heard Trump is giving the Secret Service and other security apparatchiks fits because he supposedly wants to shake hands with tailgaters. A bigger problem is the potential fallout from his visit with drivers. Traffic in and out of the big game is always bumper-to-bumper; but delays caused by Trump’s motorcade could cause full-on snarl – yielding snarling voters eager for someone to blame.
We just referenced Trump and the January 6, 2021 rioting – but that’s not the only news that broke on that front last week. Newly installed speaker of the House Mike Johnson announced Friday he’ll release 44,000 hours of video footage from that fateful day. The goal is to allow American citizens to watch it for themselves – and then decide for themselves – what happened. The images previously made public were selectively filtered by Democrats and used to justify their “insurrection” narrative.
Releasing the video fulfills a promise Johnson made to hardline conservative Republicans last month in exchange for being elected speaker. As a result, he’s now getting a honeymoon his predecessor Kevin McCarthy never got from the hard right.
How long will it last? It’s hard to say. Honeymoons are shorter in D.C. than they are for Vegas weddings. But given the current Chernobyl-level toxicity on Capitol Hill, Johnson’s off to a hopeful start. When brings us to …
Uncle Sam was faced last week with yet another self-inflicted partial government shutdown. These all-too-frequent fiscal cliffhangers are wearing incredibly thin with the American public.
How did Washington respond to the latest crisis? Well, on this front congress is a one-trick pony – so it did the only thing it knows how to do: It kicked the can down the road and passed a stopgap spending measure.
It’s worth noting that in the House, only two South Carolina representatives – Democrat James Clyburn and Republican Joe Wilson – voted in favor of the stopgap. GOP members Jeff Duncan, Russell Fry, Nancy Mace, Ralph Norman and William Timmons all voted against it.
With the stopgap passed, though, America’s surging $33.7 trillion national debt continues to careen ever higher. But take heart: We’ll revisit this same soap opera when this latest temporary fix runs out of money — yet again — in early February.
Who wants to bet what congress will do then?
If you’ve seen the comedy classic Animal House, you’ll remember Kevin Bacon’s character repeatedly shouting, “Remain calm! All is well!” to a stampeding crowd that eventually trampled him.
That’s what it must feel like in the press offices at the White House, Democratic National Committee, and Joe Biden reelection headquarters these days. While their spinmeisters keep spewing the party line, polling continues to expose a party that is in political freak-out mode.
Amid the barrage of bad news for Democrats in the polling arena, one bit in particular stands out from the pack. It comes courtesy of left-of-center Yahoo! News, no less. A new survey of 1,584 Democratic primary voters conducted by Yahoo! and YouGov found 54 percent of respondents saying they wanted to see “another Democrat” enter the presidential race and primary Biden for their party’s presidential nomination. A mere 28 percent said they didn’t want to see a different candidate at the top of the ticket. The same poll also surveyed general election voters, finding Biden trailing Trump – but also finding 64 percent of the electorate viewing Biden’s health and mental acuity as “somewhat” or “very” concerning.
Oh, and Biden turns 81 on Monday, too.
Outgoing U.S. senator Joe Manchin is a master at keeping the Washington press corps guessing what he’ll do. When we reported last weekend the wily West Virginia Democrat wouldn’t seek reelection to the Senate, we speculated his flirtation with the embryonic No Labels movement might result in them “going steady,” as those from Manchin’s era might call it. Manchin confirmed it Thursday, telling MSNBC, “I will do anything I can to help my country. And you’re saying, ‘Does that mean you would consider it?’ Absolutely.”
Manchin followed that up with a NewsNation interview in which he said congress “is as toxic as I’ve ever seen,” adding that Joe Biden used to be seen as “moderate, middle, (but) he’s been pushed clear to the left.”
Then he was asked about an AP report indicating a committee to draft Manchin and Republican senator Mitt Romney would launch this week with a new “America Back on Track” website – and a goal of raising $1 million to support the No Labels dream ticket.
Manchin’s non-response response: “I’m trying to basically see if there are people that wish to do [this] and find a candidate, whether it be me or anyone else. I will do whatever I can to save this nation. I will. But I’ve got to see if there’s a movement there.”
Not the answer you’d expect to hear from a guy who’s planning to spend his retirement playing golf at the ritzy Greenbriar resort back home in the Mountain State.
THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE
If you’re among the millions of Americans who’ll be watching the big Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on TV, be prepared for a blast of ideological insanity from the radical left. Because sandwiched between the Bullwinkle balloon and marching bands will be a cast of agenda-driven activists better suited for the streets of San Francisco than America’s living rooms.
The featured performer will be 77-year-old singer and actress Cher, who has endeared herself to Trump supporters by promising to leave the United States if he’s reelected next year. That’s bound to boost the parade’s TV ratings.
Being a stone’s throw from Broadway, big-budget productions are always showcased in the annual event. And two gender justice warrior stars will be featured this year.
The first is from the musical “& Juliet,” which imagines what her life would have been like if Shakespeare’s character hadn’t committed suicide shortly before Romeo followed suit. It includes the non-binary “May” played by pronoun-challenged Justin David Sullivan. You may recall Sullivan, a male who goes by he/ she/ it, took himself/ herself/ itself out of contention for a Tony Award because they are gender specific.
Likewise, “Shucked” is another Broadway draw featuring a female character called “Lulu” played by male actor and he/ she/ it advocate Alex Newell. Though that didn’t stop him/ her/ it from accepting the Best Actor Tony.
Anyway, good luck explaining all that to your kids this Thanksgiving …
Seriously, though … what’s next? “Furries” being allowed to compete in the Westminster Kennel dog show because they identify as canines?
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