Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was tapped to give the official Republican response to the State of the Union tonight, and you will be gratified to hear that it was... good. This is not a reflection on Gov. Haley's speaking skills, which were in full display today. Especially the bit where she cuts somebody with a knife and a smile, in the authentic South Carolinan manner - but more on that in a moment. Suffice it to say that Haley nailed the speech.
Which is interesting, because the speech was only incidentally about Barack Obama's State of the Union. Well, maybe a bit more than 'incidentally;' but this speech was primarily to let Donald Trump know that after Iowa and New Hampshire comes South Carolina. And that Nikki Haley has no intention whatsoever to make life easy for Donald Trump while he's down there.
Don't believe me? Well, here's some excerpts from her prepared remarks:
- "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."
- "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."
Look, folks, this is not difficult to parse. Barack Obama's part in tonight's festivities - his very relevance - is fading away. You can almost visibly see it vanish. He can talk about executive orders and grand plans all he likes, but in one year and eight days he will no longer be President of the United States, and will start being somebody else's problem. So naturally Nikki Haley is not going to waste too much time on a has-been. It's like kicking a cloth doll. What's the point?
Donald Trump, on the other hand... yes. The bottom-feeders, professional shills, and other charming partisan remoras* that now orbit the Trump campaign have the right of it, actually; Nikki Haley's speech was about Donald Trump; or, more accurately, about what Donald Trump has so far allowed to be freely said in his name. And the problem there for Mr. Trump is that it was a legitimately good speech. Made by a popular state governor whose endorsement might actually matter.
Going to be an interesting couple of months, yes?
*One of the more infuriated ones actually called for Nikki Haley to be deported (I'm sure you can guess which one). Because birtherism can metastasize, apparently.