Haley makes strong case for conservatism, her future in SOTU response

Nikki Haley (AP Photo / Evan Vucci)

Nikki Haley (AP Photo / Evan Vucci)

President Obama’s State of the Union address last night held little interest for me, as I’m long past the point of wanting to hear the giver of such political advice as “punish your enemies” and “bring a gun to a knife fight” lecture us about partisanship and civility. Of course, if I thought the economy and foreign affairs were the kind of bright spots he portrayed them to be, maybe I’d believe the kumbaya stuff, too.

I was far more interested in hearing the GOP response once I learned it would be delivered by Nikki Haley. The second-term governor of South Carolina is a natural subject of vice-presidential speculation, not least after her deft handling of the aftermath from the terrible Charleston shootings last summer. So her remarks last night were a chance to demonstrate how her style and approach would translate to national politics, and she didn’t disappoint.

For starters, Haley referred obliquely to the Charleston shootings — and the racial tensions exposed they anew — right from the start: “Much like America as a whole, ours is a state with a rich and complicated history, one that proves the idea that each day can be better than the last.” She went on to talk about them, and what followed them, in more detail:

“Our state was struck with shock, pain, and fear. But our people would not allow hate to win. We didn’t have violence, we had vigils. We didn’t have riots, we had hugs.

“We didn’t turn against each other’s race or religion. We turned toward God, and to the values that have long made our country the freest and greatest in the world.

“We removed a symbol that was being used to divide us, and we found a strength that united us against a domestic terrorist and the hate that filled him.”

And, of particular note, given the dynamics in the GOP presidential primary, she made this point:

“There’s an important lesson in this. In many parts of society today, whether in popular culture, academia, the media, or politics, there’s a tendency to falsely equate noise with results.

“Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.”

If there’s been a more elegant rebuttal of Trumpism during this election, I’d like to see it. But Haley didn’t stop there, instead speaking at length about her own experience as a child of immigrants in the South and the need to balance openness with prudence:

“My story is really not much different from millions of other Americans. Immigrants have been coming to our shores for generations to live the dream that is America. They wanted better for their children than for themselves. That remains the dream of all of us, and in this country we have seen time and again that that dream is achievable.

“Today, we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory. During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.

“No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.

“At the same time, that does not mean we just flat out open our borders. We can’t do that. We cannot continue to allow immigrants to come here illegally. And in this age of terrorism, we must not let in refugees whose intentions cannot be determined.

“We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries.”

Despite what you’ve heard during months of Trump-mania, this is the prevailing conservative attitude toward immigration. And Haley would make for a very effective spokesperson for that attitude in this year’s general election. That’s all the more true because of the way Haley sprinkled optimistic, rather than pessimistic, notes throughout her remarks:

  • “the idea that each day can be better than the last”
  • “a vision of a brighter American future”
  • “America will have the chance to turn in a new direction”
  • “The foundation that has made America that last, best hope on earth hasn’t gone anywhere. It still exists. It is up to us to return to it.”
  • “(W)e’ve been tested in the past, and our people have always risen to the challenge. We have all the guidance we need to be safe and successful.”

The SOTU response is one of the most thankless tasks in politics, in largest part because it’s virtually impossible to look good in comparison to a president speaking in front of the assembled Congress and receiving intermittent bursts of applause. Haley performed the task as ably as anyone in recent memory; come what may electorally in 2016, she’s earning a prominent spot in national GOP politics beyond this year.

Reader Comments 0

73 comments
MarkVV
MarkVV

The experience of the Obama presidency should be a warning to the voters of the consequences of hyper-partisanship, divisiveness, unwillingness to compromise of the Republican party.

Still, the President and the Democrats in Congress managed to make healthcare available to more Americans, ending thy tyranny of the private insurance companies. The American people will never go back to that failed system.

The President and Democrats manage to recover the country from the disaster of the preceding Republican administration that brought the country the Great recession. In spite of the Republican reactionary tactics, the country recovered much better than other industrial economies.

One of the main problems that remains is the greed of the wealthy supporters of the Republican party, who use the disastrous election funding laws to subvert democracy.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

No unicorns were saddened by your post.

$19 trillion in debt, record poverty and dependence, lowest labor participation in 40 years, tens of millions uninsured despite $100-billion-a-year Obamacare, worst race relations in decades...seven years in.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Obama's failed regime should be a warning to future presidents of the consequences of hyper-partisanship, divisiveness, unwillingness to compromise, and flat-out hatred of Real Americans.

Yes, he got Obamacare passed, and it's being taken apart piece by piece.  Eventually, math will finish it off.

But the 2010 and 2014 elections hobbled him, essentially making him a six-year lame duck whose actions can mostly be reversed with the stroke of a pen.

Had he not snuffed out any semblance of a real economic recovery, millions more Americans would be working and fewer would be part of the record number on food stamps and in poverty.

The only thing more embarrassing and pathetic than the Obama legacy is the longer-term problem of greedy, self-interested voters who care only that the tax payer continue to send them checks.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Haley did an excellent job of leading by example.

There was something foreboding about Obama's SOTU.

Perhaps a bit elementary but the way he "slams" his hands down on the podium during speeches had always grated on my nerves. It takes on an appearance of frustration.

More than once he has inferred that Americans don't hear what he's saying and then proceeds to clarify.

Like you, Kyle, I AM SO OVER this president and all that he claims to be.  

MarkVV
MarkVV

@FIGMO2 The profoundness of your objections to the President's speech is overwhelming.

Bruno2
Bruno2

Bruno: "The Earth may be warming, but the "science" which explains it is laughable.  Therein lies the divisiveness."

Hedley: "No it isn't. And it really isn't funny at all. If Obama said last night that gravity exists in the world of physics would that be divisive. Because that is basically what you are saying."

 No, what I am saying is that the various computer models which predict climate change haven't made very accurate predictions thus far, so that only a fool would consider it a "settled science".  As someone with a science background myself, I'm offended when legitimate criticism of climate science is dismissed with no real rebuttal and a lot of insults thrown in, which is what Obama did last night and you're trying to do here.

I, along with most Cons, support being good stewards of the planet and will support reasonable measures to offset negative changes brought about by man-made activities.  However, I'm not going to kowtow to any demands to equate the shaky findings of a nascent branch of science with long-established results from Physics. Quite frankly, this demand of ideological obedience from the Left is completely unnecessary and ultimately counter-productive.  As such, I find it to be divisive.  One more example of Obama's demonization of people who think differently from him.  You don't see it because he champions your world-view. 

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Bruno2  The usual nitpicking regarding the meaning of "settled science," and about the accuracy of predictions. Any inaccuracy of models does negate neither the science, which is quite clear, nor the fact of the warming trend, which is equally clear.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

I like Nikki Haley as well and think she should get strong consideration as a running mate for the eventual nominee. As for Obama, I didn't waste my time watching him last night as the stench from his failed presidency will take years to clear. All that can be done is hope for the right president elect at this crucial time, fumigate the White House and move forward in repairing the damage he's caused to our country.

lvg
lvg

El Rushbo thought her speech was a bunch of garbage. 

MarkVV
MarkVV

Let’s face it. The accolades Gov. Haley has been receiving from some Republicans has been mainly for her rejection of the bluster of Donald Trump. The bluster that about a third to half of the polled Republican voters find so attractive that they would support him. Thus this part of the speech was more like a supporting campaign speech than a counterpart to a State of the Union address.

The rest her speech were promises without any substance, promises of the Republicans just doing better than the Democrats, absent of anything that would make them believable.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

Got it Kyle. Haley gave a great speach and did well. But if President Obama said it, "he!! no" is the response. When I heard her speaking I was amazed that she was selected by the Repubs because she was saying, in a different way, what President Obama has been saying for years.


Now how much more time will it take a repub....no a con controlled Congress to write a fair comprehensive immigration bill? A comprehensive healthcare bill? To stop, listen, think, and then state their position on anything once they have all the facts (Iran seizure/release)????

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

Haley's comments were the best from a Republican in a long time but she also mentioned religious liberty in its new meaning not the old one from the Constitution. I guess that one is worn out.

Kyle, your party has an immigration problem.

Bruno2
Bruno2

@JeffreyEav "Kyle, your party has an immigration problem."

No, the country has an illegal immigration problem.  Illegal immigration comes with a steep price tag, both financially and from a morale standpoint.  What motivation do average citizens have to follow the law when it's openly flouted by millions upon millions of people??  Why should I feel good about paying more than my fair share of taxes while my illegal neighbors pay few taxes, yet receive generous benefits from society, e.g. free schooling, free healthcare, WIC, etc.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Bruno2 @JeffreyEav  No, the country has an illegal immigration problem.  Illegal immigration comes with a steep price tag, both financially and from a morale standpoint. 


As Obama pointed out. That just isn't so.


If the Gop was serious about stopping illegal immigration they would have went after the employers long ago. Instead they can use the issue to appeal to their xenophobic base while at the same time doing nothing. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@JeffreyEav What, exactly, do you see as the difference between religious liberty as Haley described it and as the Constitution does?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield @JeffreyEav Most see Religious liberty today as favoring Christianity over other religions. See Kim Davis. Or Judge Roy Moore for that matter.


Not what was originally intended. 

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Caius @Hedley_Lammar @Bruno2 @JeffreyEav I think the amount paid in taxes by illegals is offset by the low wages Americans earn because of the glut of laborers.   If Americans made more they would pay more taxes, more SocSec and spend more invigorating the economy.  Illegals repatriate much of the money they earn which benefits Mexico and Central America.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Hedley_Lammar I don't think "most" see that. In fact, "most" who talk about the issue offers examples with people of other faiths.


Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister @Caius @Hedley_Lammar @Bruno2 @JeffreyEav I think the amount paid in taxes by illegals is offset by the low wages Americans earn because of the glut of laborers.


Again illegals dont set wages. Those in the boardrooms do. You are blaming the vulnerable while the powerful cause the problem


They have you guys sooo fooled. 


"Food Stamp recipients didn’t cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did," Obama said. "Immigrants aren’t the reason wages haven’t gone up, those decisions are made in the boardrooms that too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns."

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Hedley_Lammar @Kyle_Wingfield You proggies don't get the difference between culture and racism.  Most folks like the culture we have had in America for 250 years and are not big on multiculturalism, which leads to balkanization and eventually turmoil.  Name a country where they have two or three equal cultures that live in harmony?  You can't have immigration without assimilation.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Hedley_Lammar @RafeHollister @Caius @Bruno2 @JeffreyEav Simple rule of supply and demand, abundant labor drives down wages.  In your desired government central world, there would be some wage adjustment board, but in America the market place determines wages and they always choose the less expensive option to get the job done.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister @Hedley_Lammar @Kyle_Wingfield Folks that talk about Religious liberty today are really talking about defending the Kim Davis types.


A person who thinks its perfectly fine to put her Religion before the law. After all its her right and her Religion. How dare anyone infringe on her right to practice her Religion ?


Sorry it doesn't work that way.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Hedley_Lammar Do you think government should make no accommodations for their employees? If, to name a totally different example, two neo Nazis show up to get married wearing swastika T-shirts, should a Jewish employee be required to issue the license himself? Or should he be allowed to pass that duty to someone else without losing his job?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield @Hedley_Lammar Yes


If that was his or her job. Don't want to deal with an eclectic public. Do something else get transferred. Whatever.


Your extreme example doesn't make me waiver in the slightest. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Hedley_Lammar "Your extreme example doesn't make me waiver (sic) in the slightest."

Oh, I had little doubt. I just thought others might want the confirmation in your own words.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@Caius @Hedley_Lammar @Bruno2 @JeffreyEav "  I often wondered why W never went after the employers. And Obama has failed to do so."

two words: Campaign contributions!"

Place all PAC money, contributions over $1000, and anything donated in a fund to be equally doled out to the final candidates. Level the playing field with out payback.

Oh and fine the he!! out of those hiring illegals or those without a work permit.

Caius
Caius

@Hedley_Lammar @Bruno2 @JeffreyEav 

Okay, good point on the employers.  I often wondered why W never went after the employers. And Obama has failed to do so.


One additional problem.  The Actuary of Social Security has stated more than once that about 3.5 million illegals actually pay into the SS system, which along with their employers share total about $15 billion a year. We will asume that since their employers are deducting/paying the SS?Medicare they are also deducting payingfederal and state taxes.

Millions of illegals pay their fair share.  Their employers pay their fair share. Are you going to kick out those illegals?  Are you going to lock up those employers?


Nothing is simple. Yet we try to make it simple.

This is a complicated problem that will require a complicated answer, something our current political environment cannot handle.


Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield @Hedley_Lammar Well you dont think racism is driving the Trump campaign. That Obama somehow created him


And that its a small percentage that feel that way ala Trump


Agree to disagree again.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield @Hedley_Lammar Or should he be allowed to pass that duty to someone else without losing his job?


How about doing your job. One the taxpayers pay you very well to do.


If you have a problem with gay marriage. Find another line of work.



Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Predictably, Republicans have responded to the President’s speech with the same divisive language Obama spent all night denouncing — a sad reminder that they cannot be allowed anywhere near the White House in 2016, and a testament to just how much normal people are going to miss this President.


http://thedailybanter.com/2016/01/obamas-powerful-state-of-the-union-speech-was-a-reminder-of-what-were-about-to-lose/


Sadly predictable.


Haley was a breath of fresh air. If only she represented Republicans. 


But she doesn't. Trump does.

Bruno2
Bruno2

@Hedley_Lammar It's this simple, Hedley:  Trump is popular among Cons because he is the "anti-Obama".  Trump is bold and confident while Obama is indecisive and wimpy.  Trump is unabashedly pro-American while Obama continues to downplay American Exceptionalism.  Trump promises to put American interests first, while Obama seems more concerned about making nice with our enemies around the globe.  Trump supports the backbone of our society--the police--while Obama continues to take race-based pot-shots from the sidelines.  Trump is pro-business, while Obama is anti-business.  Etc, etc.


Obviously, you feel differently than the average GOP supporter on these issues, but to deny the reality of what drives Trump's popularity is akin to sticking your head in the sand.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Hedley_Lammar I don't remember all these bipartisan kumbayah praises for Dubyah's  SOTU speeches, just derision and mocking.


Obama is not God, although apparently he thinks that anyone who disagrees with his policies are not only wrong, but divisive, and repulsive individuals.  


When he dismissed John McCain with a "shutup John I won" comment, he was thinking that America was going to love him and give him an overwhelming Dem controlled congress, so that he didn't need the GOP.  He has never adjusted to the fact that governing against the will of the people is tough.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Bruno2 @Hedley_Lammar  It's this simple, Hedley:  Trump is popular among Cons because he is the "anti-Obama".


No. He is popular because he is anti immigrant and anti muslim.


Its the issue he started his whole campaign on.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister @Hedley_Lammar I'm not going to do your research for you,


In other words he didn't say it. Or at least not anywhere near  the divisive way you framed it.


Can you see the irony in that ?

P.S. Just because the GOP blames Obama for their unwillingness to compromise doesn't mean he is the one being divisive. 

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Hedley_Lammar @RafeHollister I'm not going to do your research for you, look for the Obama/GOP meeting to discuss his plans for Obamacare.  It is there along with put downs of Ryan and others for daring to make constructive suggestions.  The meaning was- you had your chance and I don't need you so go ........... yourselves.


This was the beginning of the animosity.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@RafeHollister @Hedley_Lammar Yeah


Unlike Trump huh


Obama who came from a lower middle income family with a single parent home. Who worked his butt off to get ahead


Yeah he is out of touch.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@RafeHollister Oh Rafe, don't you know? In every situation there are two positions: The terrible, extremist, child- and kitten-hating position Obama doesn't want, and Obama's position.


Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield @RafeHollister Don't know about kitten hating but that isn't far off


For example when Christie says fighting ISIS is WWIII is Obama correct in saying that just isn't so ?


Is pointing that out being divisive ?


Is it divisive to say that blaming all Muslims for the actions of a few isnt helpful ? 

I could go on and on.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@Bruno2 @Hedley_Lammar Trump is arrogant, full of himself, bigoted, an egomanic, and has the manners of a yahoo. (Sorry UVA fans) . Thank God President Obama is non of these.