Thursday, October 11, 2018

Haley 'getting out while the getting is good'

Nikki Haley announced her resignation as U. S. Ambassador to the U.N. “Haley’s Come” is how The Economist viewed then SC Governor Nikki Haley back in January 2016 when she was “auditioning” for a position in the Trump Administration. Now the comet is headed somewhere else - but no one knows where.

Here’s a related observation from the 538 Significant Digits email.

63 percent approval
Yesterday, Nikki Haley announced she’s resigning as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. at the end of the year. According to a Quinnipiac poll of five of President Trump’s Cabinet members, Haley was the only one with majority approval among Republicans and Democrats. Overall, 63 percent of people approved and 17 percent disapproved of her performance as ambassador. [The Washington Post]

It will be interesting to see who follows her out of the Trump administration. John Cassidy (New Yorker) notes that Trump “won’t be President forever, and some politically astute people, Haley included, are already looking ahead.” He expands in considering Why Nikki Haley’s Resignation Is a Hopeful Sign for Opponents of Trump. Rather than wait for the dénouement of the Trump story, which is unlikely to be pretty, Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., is getting out while the getting is good.

… Sitting next to Donald Trump in the Oval Office, Haley said that it had been “an honor of a lifetime” to hold the U.N. job, which comes with a plush suite at the Waldorf Towers. Preëmpting the obvious question about why she is leaving the Administration at this juncture, she added, “No, I am not running for 2020.”

That didn’t prevent the publication of a slew of pieces speculating about Haley’s motivations, including one from my colleague Eric Lach. On Wednesday morning, one of the most-read pieces on the Washington Post’s Web site was headlined, “ ‘A rising star’: Haley poses a potential threat to Trump even if she doesn’t run in 2020.”

All this interest in Haley’s intentions is understandable. … Haley isn’t just a G.O.P. oddity. She’s a canny and ambitious politician who has the ability to shape-shift seamlessly. … Anybody who can simultaneously retain the support of Trump and the Times’s editorial board should never be underestimated.

Perhaps to quell some of the speculation about Haley’s political ambitions, people close to her leaked the suggestion that she’s looking to make money in the private sector. That may well be true (her most recent federal ethics report listed debts of up to a million dollars), but it doesn’t detract from the main takeaway from her resignation, which should provide some succor for anybody eager to see the back of Trump: he won’t be President forever, and some politically astute people, Haley included, are already looking ahead. Rather than waiting for the dénouement of the Trump story, which is unlikely to be pretty, she’s getting out while the getting is good.

That’s a smart move. A month from now, if the opinion polls are correct, Trump will be facing a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and an inability to get any legislation passed without making concessions. … If Democratic leaders get their way, they will wait for Robert Mueller to file his report on the Russia investigation, and, in the meantime, torment the White House with subpoenas demanding the release of Trump’s financial records, including his tax returns.

Another potential danger to Trump is the economy, which is currently in the category of “as good as it gets.” Going into 2019, the fiscal stimulus from the December, 2017, tax-cut bill and the February, 2018, bipartisan spending deal will start to wear off, and G.D.P. growth will probably fall back. In addition, as the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates, the stock market, which has enjoyed a record-breaking run in the past ten years, could take a dive at any moment. With the unemployment rate at 3.7 per cent and the Dow trading above twenty-six thousand, Trump’s approval rating is in the low forties. Where will it be if the market crashes and the economy falters?

A Scriber note: The DJIA started a linear increase just after Obama took office and was, until this week, at an all time high. However, just in the last five days, the Dow fell over 1,000 points from 26,784 to 25,622 - losing 813 points in today alone. If this continues, it may signal the possible “dive” Cassidy mentions.

Rather than languishing in depression, people opposed to Trump should follow Haley’s example and look forward. Handicapped by an antiquated and blatantly inequitable electoral system, the Democratic Party desperately needs to reverse at least part of the gains that Republicans have made away from the coasts, and outside of big cities, in the past thirty years. There is another huge challenge in the nation’s courts, where Kavanaugh’s confirmation marked the culmination of a multi-decade conservative campaign to wrest control from moderate and liberal judges. But in democracies things can change. Things do change. And, in fewer than four weeks, there will be an invaluable opportunity to start the process.

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