Commentary Magazine


Topic: Nikki Haley

Racism at the Times

There is a New York Times op-ed this morning that is somewhere beyond appalling. It is by Adolph L. Reed Jr., a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Professor Reed writes about the appointment of Rep. Tim Scott to replace the retiring Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina. Scott, in Reed’s view, is essentially an Uncle Tom because he does not agree with the politics of most black Americans:

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There is a New York Times op-ed this morning that is somewhere beyond appalling. It is by Adolph L. Reed Jr., a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Professor Reed writes about the appointment of Rep. Tim Scott to replace the retiring Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina. Scott, in Reed’s view, is essentially an Uncle Tom because he does not agree with the politics of most black Americans:

. . . his politics, like those of the archconservative Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, are utterly at odds with the preferences of most black Americans. Mr. Scott has been staunchly anti-tax, anti-union and anti-abortion.

Of course, Tim Scott will not be representing black Americans in the Senate, he will be representing South Carolinians, who are, overwhelmingly, staunchly anti-tax, anti-union and anti-abortion. So it would seem that while white people can be liberals or conservatives according to the dictates of their thinking, blacks cannot. If you’re black but not liberal, in Professor Reed’s worldview, then you’re not really black.

He notes that, “All four black Republicans who have served in the House since the Reagan era — Gary A. Franks in Connecticut, J. C. Watts in Oklahoma, Allen B. West in Florida and Mr. Scott — were elected from majority-white districts.” So? All that proves is that the voters of these districts elected people according to their political positions and not the color of their skins, which is all Professor Reed seems to care about.

He can’t even get skin color right, however. He writes:

Mrs. Haley — a daughter of Sikh immigrants from Punjab, India — is the first female and first nonwhite governor of South Carolina, the home to white supremacists like John C. Calhoun, Preston S. Brooks, Ben Tillman and Strom Thurmond.

Whites don’t all come from northwestern Europe, Professor Reed. Sikhs are overwhelmingly Punjabi. Punjabi is an Indo-European language and its speakers are, to use a 19th century term, Caucasians, i.e., white. It might be pointed out that Calhoun died in 1850, Brooks in 1857, and Tillman in 1918. Strom Thurmond died in 2003 at the age of 100 and had long since abandoned his racist ideas, just as Justice Hugo Black and Senator Robert Byrd, two other Southern politicians of his generation, had abandoned their memberships in the KKK. Of course Black and Byrd were liberals in their later careers, so … Oh, look, a squirrel.

Professor Brooks writes, “Redistricting and gerrymandering have produced ‘safe’ seats for black politicians across the South but have also concentrated black votes in black districts, giving white Republicans a lock.” Well, whose idea was that? It’s a liberal one and not a very bright one at that, as concentrating black votes in certain districts necessarily drains them away from the other districts, making those districts more conservative. And it is based on the thoroughly racist idea that only black districts will elect blacks to Congress. Frank, Watts, West, and Scott prove that idea wrong.

Professor Reed calls his piece “The Puzzle of Black Republicans.” But the puzzle is easily solved. Tim Scott is not a black Republican. He’s a Republican who happens to be black. Professor Reed sees racism in everything. But if he’d like to see a real racist, he needs only to look in a mirror.

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Delicious Irony

Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina has appointed Rep. Tim Scott to fill the Senate seat held by Jim DeMint, who has resigned to become head of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank. Scott will serve for two years and then have to run in November 2014 for the remaining two years of DeMint’s term.

This just abounds in delicious political and historical irony. In 2010 Scott defeated Paul Thurmond, the son of the late Senator Strom Thurmond, to win the Republican nomination to the 1st congressional district seat in the House. Now he will have the same seat in the Senate that Strom Thurmond held for 47 years, from 1956 to 2003. Strom Thurmond, of course, was an arch segregationist—running for president as a Dixiecrat in 1948 and carrying four deep South states—and until the Voting Rights Act he had vehemently opposed enfranchised blacks and totally transformed the politics of the old Confederacy. Tim Scott is black.

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Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina has appointed Rep. Tim Scott to fill the Senate seat held by Jim DeMint, who has resigned to become head of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank. Scott will serve for two years and then have to run in November 2014 for the remaining two years of DeMint’s term.

This just abounds in delicious political and historical irony. In 2010 Scott defeated Paul Thurmond, the son of the late Senator Strom Thurmond, to win the Republican nomination to the 1st congressional district seat in the House. Now he will have the same seat in the Senate that Strom Thurmond held for 47 years, from 1956 to 2003. Strom Thurmond, of course, was an arch segregationist—running for president as a Dixiecrat in 1948 and carrying four deep South states—and until the Voting Rights Act he had vehemently opposed enfranchised blacks and totally transformed the politics of the old Confederacy. Tim Scott is black.

The 1st district is centered on Charleston, the hotbed of secession and where the Civil War began, but Scott, who was born in 1965, the year the Voting Rights Act was passed, won the district in 2010 with 65 percent of the vote, thanks to being a conservative Republican in what is now a very conservative and Republican district. He won by a similar margin in 2012.

He will be the only current black senator, one of only two black Republicans in post-Reconstruction Senate history. (The other was the liberal Edward Brooke, who served two terms from Massachusetts, 1967-1979.) This means that there will now have been almost as many black Republicans who have served in the modern Senate as black Democrats (Carol Moseley Braun, Roland Burris, and Barack Obama, all from Illinois).

So the only black member of the United States Senate in 2013 will be a conservative Republican from the deep South. It just doesn’t get better than that.

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The Age of the GOP Governors

Yesterday a landmark event happened in Michigan. The Wolverine State–which is not simply home of the United Auto Workers but in many respects is the birthplace of the modern labor movement–has become the 24th state to ban compulsory union fees. Workers will no longer be required to pay union fees as a condition of employment. And if history–and other states, like Indiana–is any guide, this action will not only grant workers freedom but also attract new businesses to Michigan. (Michigan desperately needs this, since it has the sixth-highest state jobless rate in America at 9.1 percent.) 

This move came after unions once again overshot, having tried to enshrine collective bargaining into the state constitution (through Proposition 2).  

“Everybody has this image of Michigan as a labor state,” Bill Ballenger, the editor of Inside Michigan Politics, told the New York Times. “But organized labor has been losing clout, and the Republicans saw an opportunity, and now the chickens are coming home to roost.”

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Yesterday a landmark event happened in Michigan. The Wolverine State–which is not simply home of the United Auto Workers but in many respects is the birthplace of the modern labor movement–has become the 24th state to ban compulsory union fees. Workers will no longer be required to pay union fees as a condition of employment. And if history–and other states, like Indiana–is any guide, this action will not only grant workers freedom but also attract new businesses to Michigan. (Michigan desperately needs this, since it has the sixth-highest state jobless rate in America at 9.1 percent.) 

This move came after unions once again overshot, having tried to enshrine collective bargaining into the state constitution (through Proposition 2).  

“Everybody has this image of Michigan as a labor state,” Bill Ballenger, the editor of Inside Michigan Politics, told the New York Times. “But organized labor has been losing clout, and the Republicans saw an opportunity, and now the chickens are coming home to roost.”

This victory was important, then, both substantively and politically. And it brought into sharper focus the best news about the GOP these days: Governors. Despite a very disappointing showing at the federal level in November, at the state level things are quite encouraging. Republicans now control 30 governorships–the highest number for either party in a dozen years. (Democrats control 19 governorships and Rhode Island has an independent governor.) 

Moreover, many of the brightest stars in the conservative constellation are governors–people like Mitch Daniels (Indiana), Bob McDonnell (Virginia), Scott Walker (Wisconsin), Bobby Jindal (Louisiana), Chris Christie (New Jersey), John Kasich (Ohio), Susana Martinez (New Mexico), and Nikki Haley (South Carolina), as well as former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

These men and women are models for governance: conservative, reform-minded, growth-oriented, and interested in what works. They tend to be principled but not ideological. They’re problem solvers, they have to balance their budgets, and they are generally popular in their states. As a general rule they practice politics in a way that doesn’t deepen mistrust or cynicism among the citizens of their states.

This period reminds me a bit of the 1990s, when many of the best reforms (in areas like welfare and education) were coming from governors. That’s certainly the case today. And it’s why many on the right were hoping that in 2012 the best of the current class, Mitch Daniels, had run for president of the United States (he opted for becoming, starting next year, president of Purdue University). For now, Republicans could hardly do better than to turn their lonely eyes to state capitals throughout the country.

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Another Day, Another DNC Nazi Reference

In case you’ve lost count, South Carolina Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian is the third Democrat to compare Republicans to the Nazis in the past three days. The State reported on Harpootlian’s comments during a delegate breakfast (h/t Dan Halper):

S.C. Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian, never a loss for a quick quip, tossed a few stinging one-liners at the Wednesday delegation breakfast.

On Gov. Nikki Haley participating in daily news briefings in a basement studio at the NASCAR Hall of Fame: “She was down in the bunker a la [Adolf Hitler’s wife] Eva Braun.”

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In case you’ve lost count, South Carolina Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian is the third Democrat to compare Republicans to the Nazis in the past three days. The State reported on Harpootlian’s comments during a delegate breakfast (h/t Dan Halper):

S.C. Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian, never a loss for a quick quip, tossed a few stinging one-liners at the Wednesday delegation breakfast.

On Gov. Nikki Haley participating in daily news briefings in a basement studio at the NASCAR Hall of Fame: “She was down in the bunker a la [Adolf Hitler’s wife] Eva Braun.”

California Democratic Party chair John Burton compared Paul Ryan to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels earlier this week, and Kansas Democratic delegate Pat Lehman came under fire for likening the Republican Party to Hitler yesterday. While Burton gave a hasty apology before fleeing the convention for a dentist appointment in California, Lehman is standing by her comment, according to the Wichita Eagle:

Lehman says she’s not going anywhere and was wholly unapologetic about the outrage her comment generated among conservatives.

“They’re used to getting away with lying and nobody calling them out on it,” Lehman said. “When pigs get caught under the gate, they usually squeal.”

Is this a reflection of the state of affairs in the Democratic Party? Apparently delegates are under the impression that it’s totally acceptable behavior to call their opponents pigs and Nazis at the national convention. And why not? They’re taking the cue from the Obama campaign, which spent the summer smearing Mitt Romney as a felon and a murderer. It’s amazing how quickly the 2008 fluffy bipartisan healing rhetoric outlived its effectiveness. This year’s convention is fueled by contempt, and lot’s of it.

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The Nikki Haley Pinata Spectacle

Remember the time that some random liberal hanged Sarah Palin in effigy for Halloween? This is like that, except instead of “some random liberal” it’s long-time South Carolina AFL-CIO President Donna DeWitt; instead of Sarah Palin it’s South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley; and instead of hanging it’s beating with a baseball bat.

The spectacle is kind of pathetic – impotent revenge fantasies, even and especially ostensibly ironic ones – always are. And the crowd, especially the grating woman in the background who’s doing most of the cheering, seems far more into the imagined beating than is DeWitt. And, at the risk of deflating what’s bound to be a couple newscycles of outrageously outraged conservative commentary, this happened at a picnic, and we used to be a culture that met these things with eye-rolls rather than calls for professional accountability.

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Remember the time that some random liberal hanged Sarah Palin in effigy for Halloween? This is like that, except instead of “some random liberal” it’s long-time South Carolina AFL-CIO President Donna DeWitt; instead of Sarah Palin it’s South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley; and instead of hanging it’s beating with a baseball bat.

The spectacle is kind of pathetic – impotent revenge fantasies, even and especially ostensibly ironic ones – always are. And the crowd, especially the grating woman in the background who’s doing most of the cheering, seems far more into the imagined beating than is DeWitt. And, at the risk of deflating what’s bound to be a couple newscycles of outrageously outraged conservative commentary, this happened at a picnic, and we used to be a culture that met these things with eye-rolls rather than calls for professional accountability.

But there’s no denying the stunt is an explicit fantasized assault: “Wait till her face comes around, whack her.” “Give her another whack.” “Hit her again.” “This one’s for me.” This is all via your moral betters, who explained – interminably – how Sarah Palin’s “bullseye” map was an unacceptable incitement to violence.

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LIVE BLOG: Paul Ryan

The Republican response — indeed, the opposition-party response — to the State of the Union is usually the graveyard of upward ambitions. Not tonight. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman, is giving what is certainly the best such response in memory, and will — and should — spark serious talk about him as the Republican nominee next year. He has said flatly he’s not running. Maybe it would be wiser for a 41-year-old like Ryan to wait until 2016. But this speech reminds us that the deep bench of younger politicians — with Ryan and Marco Rubio and Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley, among many others — really belongs to the GOP.

The Republican response — indeed, the opposition-party response — to the State of the Union is usually the graveyard of upward ambitions. Not tonight. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman, is giving what is certainly the best such response in memory, and will — and should — spark serious talk about him as the Republican nominee next year. He has said flatly he’s not running. Maybe it would be wiser for a 41-year-old like Ryan to wait until 2016. But this speech reminds us that the deep bench of younger politicians — with Ryan and Marco Rubio and Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley, among many others — really belongs to the GOP.

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Searching

As I noted on Friday, the GOP could use some unifiers who can fuse the Tea Party’s enthusiasm and small-government devotion with the mature street smarts of conservative stalwarts who possess bipartisan appeal. It is not an easy task. The media envision (and egg on) a competition for the soul of the GOP, and the battle for the 2012 nomination — Sarah Palin vs. everyone else. That sort of standoff may play out, but it’s not a useful paradigm if the Republicans hope to capture the White House.

The midterm results illustrate this vividly. Sarah Palin’s Tea Party favorites Joe Miller, Sharron Angle, and Christine O’Donnell all went down to defeat, as did independent Tom Tancredo, whom she backed in the Colorado gubernatorial race. Her critics cite this as evidence that while potent within the conservative movement, she lacks the appeal and political judgment required for the GOP to win in 2012. Her defenders will remind us that she also backed Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Nikki Haley, who all won. The argument for Rubio is not all that persuasive, of course; Rubio didn’t need Palin to win. The concern remains among conservatives: in a presidential race, you need to win not just deep Red States but also ones that are in play in competitive years.

There is another model. If Palin has reinforced doubts about her electability, Haley Barbour has some crowing to do. As head of the hugely successful Republican Governors’ Association, he can claim fundraising prowess and a role in the remarkable sweep in gubernatorial races from Maine to Florida to Wisconsin to New Mexico. The number of e-mails sent out touting his fundraising totals and electoral successes strongly suggests that he is getting his resume in order for a presidential run. But Barbour himself may not be the man to meld the two halves of the party. The image of an older, white Southern male with a successful lobbying career risks alienating the Tea Party contingent, whose enthusiasm and ideological zest led to many of those victories. Read More

As I noted on Friday, the GOP could use some unifiers who can fuse the Tea Party’s enthusiasm and small-government devotion with the mature street smarts of conservative stalwarts who possess bipartisan appeal. It is not an easy task. The media envision (and egg on) a competition for the soul of the GOP, and the battle for the 2012 nomination — Sarah Palin vs. everyone else. That sort of standoff may play out, but it’s not a useful paradigm if the Republicans hope to capture the White House.

The midterm results illustrate this vividly. Sarah Palin’s Tea Party favorites Joe Miller, Sharron Angle, and Christine O’Donnell all went down to defeat, as did independent Tom Tancredo, whom she backed in the Colorado gubernatorial race. Her critics cite this as evidence that while potent within the conservative movement, she lacks the appeal and political judgment required for the GOP to win in 2012. Her defenders will remind us that she also backed Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Nikki Haley, who all won. The argument for Rubio is not all that persuasive, of course; Rubio didn’t need Palin to win. The concern remains among conservatives: in a presidential race, you need to win not just deep Red States but also ones that are in play in competitive years.

There is another model. If Palin has reinforced doubts about her electability, Haley Barbour has some crowing to do. As head of the hugely successful Republican Governors’ Association, he can claim fundraising prowess and a role in the remarkable sweep in gubernatorial races from Maine to Florida to Wisconsin to New Mexico. The number of e-mails sent out touting his fundraising totals and electoral successes strongly suggests that he is getting his resume in order for a presidential run. But Barbour himself may not be the man to meld the two halves of the party. The image of an older, white Southern male with a successful lobbying career risks alienating the Tea Party contingent, whose enthusiasm and ideological zest led to many of those victories.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, who on paper might seem well-suited to the times (businessman, successful governor), is hobbled, maybe fatally, by his authorship of a health-care plan that bears a striking resemblance to the one which both Republican insiders and Tea Party activists are determined to obliterate. This is no small handicap.

So what’s the formula for success? Republicans supported and emerged victorious with serious-minded conservative candidates – Rob Portman in Ohio, Dan Coats in Indiana, and John Boozman in Arkansas – while finding new faces (Rubio, Ron Johnson) who avoided the hot-button rhetoric that derailed a number of the Tea Party candidates. Although ideologically not all that different from the Tea Party–preferred candidates, the GOP victors demonstrated how to meld fiscal conservatism with a more accessible brand of populism. They hardly disappointed the Tea Party crowd; but neither did they alienate independent voters.

Are there GOP hopefuls in 2012 who can fuse Tea Party populism with sober conservative governance? Many in the conservative intelligentsia pine for Gov. Chris Christie, who has become a rock star on YouTube; he won in a Blue State and now is battling against the Trenton insiders. And he’s doing it with showmanship that only Palin can top. But he joked that apparently only “suicide” would convince us that he wasn’t interested. I’m thinking he might be serious about not running.

Then there is Rep. Paul Ryan, soon to take over the chair of the Budget Committee. He excites many conservatives in and outside the Beltway. He’s brainy and articulate, with a shake-up-the-status-quo approach to entitlement and budget reform. He already matched up well against Obama, arguably winning a TKO in the health-care summit. And he will be front and center in the key legislative battles, in some ways the face of the GOP House majority, for the next two years. While he’s said he’s not interested in a 2012 run, he’s not been Christie-esque in his denials. As for the “rule” that House members can’t make viable presidential candidates, I think the rulebook was shredded in the last few years.

Of course, there is Marco Rubio, the party’s genuine superstar (with an immigrant story and deep belief in American exceptionalism), who proved to be an especially effective messenger of conservative principles. However, both he and his most fervent supporters seem to agree: it’s too soon.

So the search goes on. The good news for the GOP is that they have a slew of new governors (e.g., John Kasich) and senators and some retiring ones (Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels) who understand how to forge the center-right coalition needed to get elected. A few faces familiar to political junkies (Mike Pence, John Thune) are also considering a run, which will test whether a Washington insider can nevertheless take on the mantle of reformer/outsider. Can any from this group of Republicans — who frankly lack magnetic personalities – also engage Tea Partiers? We will see.

So conservatives keep looking and trying to persuade the reluctant pols to throw their hats into the ring. Those who imagine they can win back the White House without full engagement of the 2010 winning formula (Tea Partiers plus traditionalists) should think again. A plan by half of the Republican alliance to overpower the other half is a formula for a second Obama term.

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Diversity Matters Only on the Left

As the New York Post‘s editors remind us:

Remember the “angry, racist Tea Party?” For months, that was the line pushed by Democrats, the NAACP and much of the mainstream media. Funny, though: The Tea Party-inspired wave that produced historic Republican wins also revealed a substantial diversity in the movement.

Two African-Americans — Tim Scott from South Carolina and Allen West from Florida — won election to the House of Representatives, the first black Republicans to serve there in eight years. In a victory showing how far his state has come, Scott’s road to Congress included a GOP runoff win over the son of the late Strom Thurmond — once the face of Jim Crow racial intolerance.

Those new office holders also include Nikki Haley, the second Republican governor of Indian descent and the first woman governor of South Carolina, as well as “America’s first Latina governor in New Mexico’s Susana Martinez; Nevada’s first Latino governor, in Brian Sandoval; Texas Rep.-elect Francisco ‘Quico’ Canseco and, yes, the breakout Tea Party superstar of the campaign — Florida’s Sen.-elect Marco Rubio, a son of Cuban exiles.” New Hampshire has a new woman senator, Kelly Ayotte. Republican Mary Fallin was elected Oklahoma’s first woman governor, and Jan Brewer was elected in Arizona.

You missed the cheering from MALDEF and the NAACP? You didn’t hear the howls from NOW when Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle were defeated by their male opponents? You see, “diversity” is only an election issue for the left when the right is short on it. And indeed, as with Justice Clarence Thomas and Miguel Estrada, these conservatives don’t really “count” as minorities, and the women aren’t “real” women in the eyes of the left; they are sellouts or worse. Because they don’t spout the victimology mantra and are not devotees of big government, they are not “authentic.”

Aside from helping to shed the GOP’s image as a “white male only” party, the election of these individuals – in addition to the views and attributes they will bring to their jobs — have performed an important service. They will, one suspects, mute the obsessive diversity chatter that treats candidates as representatives of racial or ethnic groups rather than of the people they serve. After all, Nikki Haley isn’t actual the Indian-American governor; she’s the governor of South Carolina. And that’s exactly as it should be. Unless, of course, the point is not diversity but the endless churning of racial grievances.

As the New York Post‘s editors remind us:

Remember the “angry, racist Tea Party?” For months, that was the line pushed by Democrats, the NAACP and much of the mainstream media. Funny, though: The Tea Party-inspired wave that produced historic Republican wins also revealed a substantial diversity in the movement.

Two African-Americans — Tim Scott from South Carolina and Allen West from Florida — won election to the House of Representatives, the first black Republicans to serve there in eight years. In a victory showing how far his state has come, Scott’s road to Congress included a GOP runoff win over the son of the late Strom Thurmond — once the face of Jim Crow racial intolerance.

Those new office holders also include Nikki Haley, the second Republican governor of Indian descent and the first woman governor of South Carolina, as well as “America’s first Latina governor in New Mexico’s Susana Martinez; Nevada’s first Latino governor, in Brian Sandoval; Texas Rep.-elect Francisco ‘Quico’ Canseco and, yes, the breakout Tea Party superstar of the campaign — Florida’s Sen.-elect Marco Rubio, a son of Cuban exiles.” New Hampshire has a new woman senator, Kelly Ayotte. Republican Mary Fallin was elected Oklahoma’s first woman governor, and Jan Brewer was elected in Arizona.

You missed the cheering from MALDEF and the NAACP? You didn’t hear the howls from NOW when Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle were defeated by their male opponents? You see, “diversity” is only an election issue for the left when the right is short on it. And indeed, as with Justice Clarence Thomas and Miguel Estrada, these conservatives don’t really “count” as minorities, and the women aren’t “real” women in the eyes of the left; they are sellouts or worse. Because they don’t spout the victimology mantra and are not devotees of big government, they are not “authentic.”

Aside from helping to shed the GOP’s image as a “white male only” party, the election of these individuals – in addition to the views and attributes they will bring to their jobs — have performed an important service. They will, one suspects, mute the obsessive diversity chatter that treats candidates as representatives of racial or ethnic groups rather than of the people they serve. After all, Nikki Haley isn’t actual the Indian-American governor; she’s the governor of South Carolina. And that’s exactly as it should be. Unless, of course, the point is not diversity but the endless churning of racial grievances.

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LIVE BLOG: Best Tweet of the Night

From GOP tech-meister Patrick Ruffini: “The racist teabaggers have elected Marco Rubio, and Susana Martinez, and Tim Scott, and Nikki Haley, and Bill Flores, and Allen West, and…”

From GOP tech-meister Patrick Ruffini: “The racist teabaggers have elected Marco Rubio, and Susana Martinez, and Tim Scott, and Nikki Haley, and Bill Flores, and Allen West, and…”

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LIVE BLOG: A Grizzly Cub Wins

One of Sarah Palin’s picks, Nikki Haley becomes South Carolina’s first woman governor. If Palin deserves some blame for Christine O’Donnell, she gets some credit for this one.

One of Sarah Palin’s picks, Nikki Haley becomes South Carolina’s first woman governor. If Palin deserves some blame for Christine O’Donnell, she gets some credit for this one.

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The Perils of Palin Punditry

You can bet the “how to stop Palin” columns will keep proliferating. There’s one in the Daily Beast today, warning the GOP establishment “to treat her with respect, and to avoid any hint at all of a patronizing attitude.” Not bad for platitudinous advice, albeit a little late. Tunku Varadarajan asserts that “the party cannot ‘manage’ Sarah Palin unless she agrees to manage herself.” Actually, if she were managing herself, she might advise herself not to be managed by the people who backed Charlie Crist. He then opines:

Palin knows her own strengths. In all likelihood, she knows her own weaknesses even better. The Republican Party must flatter her for her strengths, all the better to use them well in the next year. Equally, it must be diplomatic about her weaknesses, alluding to them in private and not blaring them out to the nation in the incendiary manner of a Karl Rove. Palin will come to concede her electoral limitations—sooner than most people expect. And when she does, she will leave the presidential field open to a candidate better able than she to tackle Obama in 2012. That would be her finest contribution to the Republican Party. In not running herself, she will make the party electable.

How does he know all this? He certainly hasn’t talked to her and cites no source (he couldn’t even manage a blind quote or two) for his “upon clear reflection, she’ll not run” view.  The problem with most of these “managing Palin” stories is that they are based on nothing more than the wishful thinking of her skeptics and potential adversaries. They tell us a lot about them, but nothing about Palin.

Far more helpful and certainly more reliable than peering into the Palin crystal ball is to analyze what she has done and said. The 2010 midterms show the promise and the peril of Palin. She spotted some unique talent (e.g., Nikki Haley), knew enough to stay away from Charlie Crist, and encouraged the Tea Party to remain within the two-party system. She also has been a consistent voice for a robust foreign policy, providing an important counterweight to neo-isolationist strains on the right. But there was also plenty to raise concerns. Mike Gerson explains:

Palin’s endorsement of Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware Republican Senate primary revealed a preference for a shallow ideological purity above achievement, qualification or electoral success. And on Monday, Palin issued a robocall for Constitution Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo in Colorado, one of the most divisive figures in American politics.

Gerson is dismayed by what he calls an “odd mix of Tea Party Jacobinism and feminist grievance.” If Palin is inclined to run, she should take these concerns and the lessons of 2010 to heart.

And the pundits would do well to stop playing Carnac the Magnificent. There’s plenty of news to opine on without making up fanciful scenarios.

You can bet the “how to stop Palin” columns will keep proliferating. There’s one in the Daily Beast today, warning the GOP establishment “to treat her with respect, and to avoid any hint at all of a patronizing attitude.” Not bad for platitudinous advice, albeit a little late. Tunku Varadarajan asserts that “the party cannot ‘manage’ Sarah Palin unless she agrees to manage herself.” Actually, if she were managing herself, she might advise herself not to be managed by the people who backed Charlie Crist. He then opines:

Palin knows her own strengths. In all likelihood, she knows her own weaknesses even better. The Republican Party must flatter her for her strengths, all the better to use them well in the next year. Equally, it must be diplomatic about her weaknesses, alluding to them in private and not blaring them out to the nation in the incendiary manner of a Karl Rove. Palin will come to concede her electoral limitations—sooner than most people expect. And when she does, she will leave the presidential field open to a candidate better able than she to tackle Obama in 2012. That would be her finest contribution to the Republican Party. In not running herself, she will make the party electable.

How does he know all this? He certainly hasn’t talked to her and cites no source (he couldn’t even manage a blind quote or two) for his “upon clear reflection, she’ll not run” view.  The problem with most of these “managing Palin” stories is that they are based on nothing more than the wishful thinking of her skeptics and potential adversaries. They tell us a lot about them, but nothing about Palin.

Far more helpful and certainly more reliable than peering into the Palin crystal ball is to analyze what she has done and said. The 2010 midterms show the promise and the peril of Palin. She spotted some unique talent (e.g., Nikki Haley), knew enough to stay away from Charlie Crist, and encouraged the Tea Party to remain within the two-party system. She also has been a consistent voice for a robust foreign policy, providing an important counterweight to neo-isolationist strains on the right. But there was also plenty to raise concerns. Mike Gerson explains:

Palin’s endorsement of Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware Republican Senate primary revealed a preference for a shallow ideological purity above achievement, qualification or electoral success. And on Monday, Palin issued a robocall for Constitution Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo in Colorado, one of the most divisive figures in American politics.

Gerson is dismayed by what he calls an “odd mix of Tea Party Jacobinism and feminist grievance.” If Palin is inclined to run, she should take these concerns and the lessons of 2010 to heart.

And the pundits would do well to stop playing Carnac the Magnificent. There’s plenty of news to opine on without making up fanciful scenarios.

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Liberal Feminists Freak Out

Charles Krauthammer spots one of the most important political developments of 2010:

The rise of the conservative woman. Sarah Palin’s influence is the most obvious manifestation of the trend. But the bigger story is the coming of age of a whole generation of smart, aggressive Republican women, from the staunchly conservative Nikki Haley (now leading the South Carolina governor’s race) and the stauncher-still Sharron Angle (neck-and-neck with Harry Reid in Nevada) to the more moderate California variety, where both Carly Fiorina (for Senate) and Meg Whitman (for governor) are within striking distance in a state highly blue and deeply green. And they are not only a force in themselves; they represent an immense constituency that establishment feminism forgot — or disdained.

And these women are threatening to decimate the professional gender grievants’ notion that “feminism” is coterminous with a liberal, statist, abortion-on-demand agenda. The reason, I would suggest, that the left went so nuts over Christine O’Donnell is not simply because she rendered a vulnerable seat safe for the Democrats or because she showed that Tea Party enthusiasts’ judgment is not infallible. It is because she provided solace to nervous liberal feminists  –”See, this wacky dame is what conservative women are all about.” Sarah Palin has proved to be politically astute, Sharron Angle had Harry Reid on the defensive in their debate, and Carly Fiorina is showing that a pro-lifer can be competitive in California; but not to fear — O’Donnell will discredit them all. Or so the theory went.

In fact, she’s done no damage to the GOP beyond her state’s borders and arguably has taken some of the heat off Angle and others. There is a whole new generation of conservative women who threaten to narrow the gender gap and to rob liberals of the argument that opposition to abortion is misogynistic. Liberals are right to be afraid: O’Donnell won’t even rate a footnote in history, but the influence of all the “Mama Grizzlies” will be with us for a long time.

Charles Krauthammer spots one of the most important political developments of 2010:

The rise of the conservative woman. Sarah Palin’s influence is the most obvious manifestation of the trend. But the bigger story is the coming of age of a whole generation of smart, aggressive Republican women, from the staunchly conservative Nikki Haley (now leading the South Carolina governor’s race) and the stauncher-still Sharron Angle (neck-and-neck with Harry Reid in Nevada) to the more moderate California variety, where both Carly Fiorina (for Senate) and Meg Whitman (for governor) are within striking distance in a state highly blue and deeply green. And they are not only a force in themselves; they represent an immense constituency that establishment feminism forgot — or disdained.

And these women are threatening to decimate the professional gender grievants’ notion that “feminism” is coterminous with a liberal, statist, abortion-on-demand agenda. The reason, I would suggest, that the left went so nuts over Christine O’Donnell is not simply because she rendered a vulnerable seat safe for the Democrats or because she showed that Tea Party enthusiasts’ judgment is not infallible. It is because she provided solace to nervous liberal feminists  –”See, this wacky dame is what conservative women are all about.” Sarah Palin has proved to be politically astute, Sharron Angle had Harry Reid on the defensive in their debate, and Carly Fiorina is showing that a pro-lifer can be competitive in California; but not to fear — O’Donnell will discredit them all. Or so the theory went.

In fact, she’s done no damage to the GOP beyond her state’s borders and arguably has taken some of the heat off Angle and others. There is a whole new generation of conservative women who threaten to narrow the gender gap and to rob liberals of the argument that opposition to abortion is misogynistic. Liberals are right to be afraid: O’Donnell won’t even rate a footnote in history, but the influence of all the “Mama Grizzlies” will be with us for a long time.

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Sarah Palin’s Certain Type of Genius

Over at Slate, no fan club of Sarah Palin’s, John Dickerson concedes:

Sarah Palin has special medicine. That’s about the only clear conclusion to be drawn from Tuesday’s primary results. She backed five candidates in Arizona, Florida, and Alaska—and they all won. The rest of the results from the evening defied easy matching. The themes of anti-incumbency and voter anger are still out there, but the candidates who mastered those forces (or avoided them) did so in different ways.

The aspect of Palin that elicits admiration and respect even from liberal critics is her unerring eye for political talent and her certain genius for understanding where the public is going, usually before it does. It is what makes record producers and TV execs famous and rich: a feel for the public’s taste that defies conventional wisdom and relies not so much on careful analysis (who’d have imagined a slick series about ad execs in the 1960s would prove so addictive for so many viewers?) but on gut instinct.

As Dickerson notes:

Twenty of the candidates she’s endorsed have won. Ten have lost. That’s a pretty good record. Her biggest victory looks like it might come in the Republican Senate primary in her home state. … She didn’t go all out for [likely upset winner Joe] Miller but she worked for him more than a lot of her other endorsed candidates, promoting his candidacy but also tearing down his opponent. Palin can take some credit for a portion of his good showing. … Palin now has more support for a favorite story line of hers: The pundits and so-called experts said things were going to go one way but she had faith; she knew the real deal. This is part of her larger pitch: that she understands something fundamental about conservative voters.

And it’s not simply candidates that she gets right. Her death-panel zinger not only revealed an underlying truth about ObamaCare’s plans to ration care; she also managed, with a hot button phrase, to electrify critics and infuriate defenders of the bill. Her populist appeal, and sometimes overdone criticism of elite media, was in 2008 a precursor of the Tea Party movement — conservatism that is anti-establishment, small-government-minded, and celebrates individual responsibility.

Now, being a political soothsayer and a superb judge of talent (she plucked Nikki Haley out of obscurity by watching a single video) doesn’t ensure a successful candidacy or an effective presidency. But it’s not nothing. And having experienced an over-credentialed pseudo-intellectual president who lacks a basic understanding of the American people, the public may find something refreshing about someone who “gets” what the country is about. Palin knows what to look for in candidates because she is in sync with the center-right zeitgeist. If she knows what the country is about and what makes it successful, the argument would go, she might possess, as Dickerson explains, “a special light to guide the country out of the muck.” (This was the secret to Ronald Reagan, by the way. It didn’t matter what the issue was — he would get it “right” because he instinctively understood the superiority of free markets, the destiny of America, and the character of his fellow citizens. Yes, all caveats apply, and Palin is not Reagan.)

It’s not clear whether Palin will run in 2012 or could even win the nomination, but her potential opponents and the media underestimate her at their peril. And if she doesn’t win, whichever Republican does would be crazy not to take her counsel and guidance. The lady knows a thing or two about how to win races.

Over at Slate, no fan club of Sarah Palin’s, John Dickerson concedes:

Sarah Palin has special medicine. That’s about the only clear conclusion to be drawn from Tuesday’s primary results. She backed five candidates in Arizona, Florida, and Alaska—and they all won. The rest of the results from the evening defied easy matching. The themes of anti-incumbency and voter anger are still out there, but the candidates who mastered those forces (or avoided them) did so in different ways.

The aspect of Palin that elicits admiration and respect even from liberal critics is her unerring eye for political talent and her certain genius for understanding where the public is going, usually before it does. It is what makes record producers and TV execs famous and rich: a feel for the public’s taste that defies conventional wisdom and relies not so much on careful analysis (who’d have imagined a slick series about ad execs in the 1960s would prove so addictive for so many viewers?) but on gut instinct.

As Dickerson notes:

Twenty of the candidates she’s endorsed have won. Ten have lost. That’s a pretty good record. Her biggest victory looks like it might come in the Republican Senate primary in her home state. … She didn’t go all out for [likely upset winner Joe] Miller but she worked for him more than a lot of her other endorsed candidates, promoting his candidacy but also tearing down his opponent. Palin can take some credit for a portion of his good showing. … Palin now has more support for a favorite story line of hers: The pundits and so-called experts said things were going to go one way but she had faith; she knew the real deal. This is part of her larger pitch: that she understands something fundamental about conservative voters.

And it’s not simply candidates that she gets right. Her death-panel zinger not only revealed an underlying truth about ObamaCare’s plans to ration care; she also managed, with a hot button phrase, to electrify critics and infuriate defenders of the bill. Her populist appeal, and sometimes overdone criticism of elite media, was in 2008 a precursor of the Tea Party movement — conservatism that is anti-establishment, small-government-minded, and celebrates individual responsibility.

Now, being a political soothsayer and a superb judge of talent (she plucked Nikki Haley out of obscurity by watching a single video) doesn’t ensure a successful candidacy or an effective presidency. But it’s not nothing. And having experienced an over-credentialed pseudo-intellectual president who lacks a basic understanding of the American people, the public may find something refreshing about someone who “gets” what the country is about. Palin knows what to look for in candidates because she is in sync with the center-right zeitgeist. If she knows what the country is about and what makes it successful, the argument would go, she might possess, as Dickerson explains, “a special light to guide the country out of the muck.” (This was the secret to Ronald Reagan, by the way. It didn’t matter what the issue was — he would get it “right” because he instinctively understood the superiority of free markets, the destiny of America, and the character of his fellow citizens. Yes, all caveats apply, and Palin is not Reagan.)

It’s not clear whether Palin will run in 2012 or could even win the nomination, but her potential opponents and the media underestimate her at their peril. And if she doesn’t win, whichever Republican does would be crazy not to take her counsel and guidance. The lady knows a thing or two about how to win races.

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Forget the Rule Book

Ross Douthat looks at the pre-positioning for the 2012 Republican presidential primary. He explains that there are the populists — Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee — with devoted followers and equally devoted detractors, and that there is the “next in line” Republican — Mitt Romney. The name of the game, Douthat suggests, for establishment Republicans (the geniuses who preferred Charlie Crist to Marco Rubio?) is to stage “a kind of intra-establishment coup, in which Romney is knocked from his perch as the safe, sober choice and a fresher figure takes his place.” Douthat throws out some contenders: Tim Pawlenty, Jeb Bush, John Thune, Mitch Daniels, and Haley Barbour. Douthat advises Romney to “co-opt some of the populist zeal that a Palin or a Huckabee” exhibit without alienating the establishment.

What’s wrong with this analysis? It has no context, and Douthat treats the contenders as archetypes (“sober reformer,” “unpredictable populist,” etc.) rather than as actual contenders with personalities and histories. Romney’s biggest problem isn’t Palin or Huckabee or any other Republican; it is that he championed a health-care bill that looks very similar to ObamaCare, which is the object of the entire party’s ire. Oh, yes — that.

If we learned anything in 2008 it was that context matters. The “unbeatable” Hillary Clinton ran precisely the wrong campaign (“experience”) in a “change” election year. Obama never looked back after the financial meltdown, because the context had changed — wariness of George W. Bush had been transformed into fury over the economic collapse. So, yes, the GOP has a habit of giving the nod to the “runner-up” from the previous year; but we’ve had a political earthquake, and the past is not much of a guide to the new political landscape.

Moreover, if Romney or any candidate is banking on establishment Republicans, as Douthat explains, “to rally around him once the primary voting starts — not out of love or admiration, but out of fear of the populist alternative,” he really has not been paying attention. The “establishment” isn’t really in charge of much of anything any more. The party elders, for better or worse, are being ignored. Ask Rubio, Rand Paul, Nikki Haley, Sharon Angle, and the rest if endorsements by the establishment and big-name donors are the key to victory. The old rules for picking presidential nominees (No congressmen! Must be a household name!) and the creaky campaign customs (The former governor of Maryland endorses candidate X!) have been blown up — first by Obama and then by the Obama backlash.

Maybe Romney four years after his first run can close the sale and figure out a way to deal with RomneyCare. But he won’t do it by splitting the difference between the Tea Party and the Beltway or by ingratiating himself with insiders (the ones who took more than a year to figure out what the Tea Partiers were all about). That sort of thinking is so 2008. The context has changed. The rules — if there are any — are different.

It’s not clear whether outsiderness or executive acumen will carry the day. The only thing for certain is that the old rule book is of absolutely no help.

Ross Douthat looks at the pre-positioning for the 2012 Republican presidential primary. He explains that there are the populists — Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee — with devoted followers and equally devoted detractors, and that there is the “next in line” Republican — Mitt Romney. The name of the game, Douthat suggests, for establishment Republicans (the geniuses who preferred Charlie Crist to Marco Rubio?) is to stage “a kind of intra-establishment coup, in which Romney is knocked from his perch as the safe, sober choice and a fresher figure takes his place.” Douthat throws out some contenders: Tim Pawlenty, Jeb Bush, John Thune, Mitch Daniels, and Haley Barbour. Douthat advises Romney to “co-opt some of the populist zeal that a Palin or a Huckabee” exhibit without alienating the establishment.

What’s wrong with this analysis? It has no context, and Douthat treats the contenders as archetypes (“sober reformer,” “unpredictable populist,” etc.) rather than as actual contenders with personalities and histories. Romney’s biggest problem isn’t Palin or Huckabee or any other Republican; it is that he championed a health-care bill that looks very similar to ObamaCare, which is the object of the entire party’s ire. Oh, yes — that.

If we learned anything in 2008 it was that context matters. The “unbeatable” Hillary Clinton ran precisely the wrong campaign (“experience”) in a “change” election year. Obama never looked back after the financial meltdown, because the context had changed — wariness of George W. Bush had been transformed into fury over the economic collapse. So, yes, the GOP has a habit of giving the nod to the “runner-up” from the previous year; but we’ve had a political earthquake, and the past is not much of a guide to the new political landscape.

Moreover, if Romney or any candidate is banking on establishment Republicans, as Douthat explains, “to rally around him once the primary voting starts — not out of love or admiration, but out of fear of the populist alternative,” he really has not been paying attention. The “establishment” isn’t really in charge of much of anything any more. The party elders, for better or worse, are being ignored. Ask Rubio, Rand Paul, Nikki Haley, Sharon Angle, and the rest if endorsements by the establishment and big-name donors are the key to victory. The old rules for picking presidential nominees (No congressmen! Must be a household name!) and the creaky campaign customs (The former governor of Maryland endorses candidate X!) have been blown up — first by Obama and then by the Obama backlash.

Maybe Romney four years after his first run can close the sale and figure out a way to deal with RomneyCare. But he won’t do it by splitting the difference between the Tea Party and the Beltway or by ingratiating himself with insiders (the ones who took more than a year to figure out what the Tea Partiers were all about). That sort of thinking is so 2008. The context has changed. The rules — if there are any — are different.

It’s not clear whether outsiderness or executive acumen will carry the day. The only thing for certain is that the old rule book is of absolutely no help.

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Not to Be Ignored

Hotline reports:

Ex-AK Gov. Sarah Palin’s political action committee is no joke, according to new reports filed with the FEC: In the last quarter, Sarah PAC raised $865K and spent $654K, demonstrating new evidence that the former VP contender is seriously considering a WH’12 bid. … Last quarter, Palin spent more than $248K on direct mail fundraising, the bread-and-butter means GOPers have traditionally used to fill their coffers and build lists. … What’s most notable is the number of small contributors Palin has attracted. More than 3/4 of her donations are listed as unitemized, meaning the individuals who wrote checks sent in less than $200. Much of Pres. Obama’s fundraising success in ’08 came from these small-dollar donors, meaning Palin has a grassroots folllowing — one she’s started to build significantly earlier than Obama did.

It’s not certain that she will run in 2012 – or that she will be able to overcome concerns within her own party about her electability. (This is not a “so what if we lose this one” election for the GOP). But it does tell us that she will continue to be a powerful force and a kingmaker, if not a candidate. While Mitt Romney has gone the cautious route — endorsing GOP candidates with little opposition or after their primary opposition was all but eliminated — Palin has been anything but. At times she’s been ahead of the curve: a sharp-eyed talent scout, as with her backing of Nikki Haley. At other times, her fondness for outsider-ness has led her to back a candidate like Rand Paul, who is now struggling to avoid been tagged as a wacko.

But make no mistake: there is a strain of political genius in Palin – the ability to seize the moment and to identify the direction in which the political currents are flowing. Aside from the stark policy contrast on just about every issue, she is, in a real sense, the un-Obama — a visceral politician who has her finger on the pulse of the heartland. That doesn’t mean she can win the nomination or be elected president, but hers is a unique talent, and she is a force that her potential competitors will have to reckon with.

Hotline reports:

Ex-AK Gov. Sarah Palin’s political action committee is no joke, according to new reports filed with the FEC: In the last quarter, Sarah PAC raised $865K and spent $654K, demonstrating new evidence that the former VP contender is seriously considering a WH’12 bid. … Last quarter, Palin spent more than $248K on direct mail fundraising, the bread-and-butter means GOPers have traditionally used to fill their coffers and build lists. … What’s most notable is the number of small contributors Palin has attracted. More than 3/4 of her donations are listed as unitemized, meaning the individuals who wrote checks sent in less than $200. Much of Pres. Obama’s fundraising success in ’08 came from these small-dollar donors, meaning Palin has a grassroots folllowing — one she’s started to build significantly earlier than Obama did.

It’s not certain that she will run in 2012 – or that she will be able to overcome concerns within her own party about her electability. (This is not a “so what if we lose this one” election for the GOP). But it does tell us that she will continue to be a powerful force and a kingmaker, if not a candidate. While Mitt Romney has gone the cautious route — endorsing GOP candidates with little opposition or after their primary opposition was all but eliminated — Palin has been anything but. At times she’s been ahead of the curve: a sharp-eyed talent scout, as with her backing of Nikki Haley. At other times, her fondness for outsider-ness has led her to back a candidate like Rand Paul, who is now struggling to avoid been tagged as a wacko.

But make no mistake: there is a strain of political genius in Palin – the ability to seize the moment and to identify the direction in which the political currents are flowing. Aside from the stark policy contrast on just about every issue, she is, in a real sense, the un-Obama — a visceral politician who has her finger on the pulse of the heartland. That doesn’t mean she can win the nomination or be elected president, but hers is a unique talent, and she is a force that her potential competitors will have to reckon with.

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Nikki Fever

In the end, it wasn’t even close. Nikki Haley trounced her opponent by 30 points in the South Carolina Republican gubernatorial primary. She overcame smears about infidelity — which were never proven and seemed to make her all the more sympathetic. She weathered nasty attacks on her religion. She now is poised to become the state’s first woman governor. Chris Cillizza sounds like he’s starting a “Draft Nikki” campaign:

Even before Haley had officially become the nominee, the Republican Governors Association had all-but-endorsed her — recognizing that an Indian-American woman as their nominee was a terrific national storyline. Given Haley’s background and the primacy of South Carolina in the 2012 Republican presidential primary process, she will almost certainly become a national figure in short order.

She was endorsed and greatly aided by Sarah Palin, whose treatment by the media should serve as a warning. Beautiful conservative women are not treated well by the mainstream media. And Haley should keep in mind that liberals and their mainstream-media allies generally treat minorities who are conservative especially roughly. If they happen to be devout Christians, well then, they really need to watch out.

Haley should be wary, but she also has the benefit of others’ examples. The way for Haley to disarm the media and beat back the political attacks is, of course, to be at the top of her game. Although Chris Christie may be the un-Haley in outward appearance, his  approach is the right one: be the happy warrior, apply conservative values, reject the entreaties to “get along” with the political establishment, and avoid even the appearance of impropriety. It’s harder than it sounds. But in the end, the media can’t bring down a competent, likable politician — nor, as we have learned in the last 17 months, can they keep afloat an incompetent, snippy one.

In the end, it wasn’t even close. Nikki Haley trounced her opponent by 30 points in the South Carolina Republican gubernatorial primary. She overcame smears about infidelity — which were never proven and seemed to make her all the more sympathetic. She weathered nasty attacks on her religion. She now is poised to become the state’s first woman governor. Chris Cillizza sounds like he’s starting a “Draft Nikki” campaign:

Even before Haley had officially become the nominee, the Republican Governors Association had all-but-endorsed her — recognizing that an Indian-American woman as their nominee was a terrific national storyline. Given Haley’s background and the primacy of South Carolina in the 2012 Republican presidential primary process, she will almost certainly become a national figure in short order.

She was endorsed and greatly aided by Sarah Palin, whose treatment by the media should serve as a warning. Beautiful conservative women are not treated well by the mainstream media. And Haley should keep in mind that liberals and their mainstream-media allies generally treat minorities who are conservative especially roughly. If they happen to be devout Christians, well then, they really need to watch out.

Haley should be wary, but she also has the benefit of others’ examples. The way for Haley to disarm the media and beat back the political attacks is, of course, to be at the top of her game. Although Chris Christie may be the un-Haley in outward appearance, his  approach is the right one: be the happy warrior, apply conservative values, reject the entreaties to “get along” with the political establishment, and avoid even the appearance of impropriety. It’s harder than it sounds. But in the end, the media can’t bring down a competent, likable politician — nor, as we have learned in the last 17 months, can they keep afloat an incompetent, snippy one.

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What Those Primary Results Mean

Blanche Lincoln narrowly beat her Democratic challenger Bill Halter. She is among the walking wounded stumbling into the November election and is unlikely to keep her seat. Ben Smith got the quote of the night: “A senior White House official just called me with a very pointed message for the administration’s sometime allies in organized labor, who invested heavily in beating Blanche Lincoln, Obama’s candidate, in Arkanas. ‘Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members’ money down the toilet on a pointless exercise,’ the official said. ‘If even half that total had been well-targeted and applied in key House races across this country, that could have made a real difference in November.’” I’m sure the labor bosses — like President Karzai — will adore being dissed in public. Lesson: Mushy moderates who’ve boasted about their backroom deals have a hard road ahead.

Nikki Haley overcame an adultery smear campaign and won big but fell barely short of a majority. She will have a runoff against Rep. Gresham Barrett. If she couldn’t be knocked out by rumors of a sex scandal now, she has a good chance to prevail in the runoff and become the state’s first woman governor. Lesson: Voters have become skeptical if not hostile to nasty smears; those who think that’s a winning tactic risk an equally nasty backlash. And it doesn’t hurt when you have Sarah Palin at your side to stir up the base.

In Nevada, voters dumped the incumbent, the scandal-plagued Jim Gibbons, in favor of  Brian Sandoval, who would be the state’s first Hispanic governor (and who would confuse pundits who are certain Republicans have permanently offended Hispanics). In the Senate race, Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle beat the former state chairwoman and other candidates. Lesson: Throw the bums out. And the Tea Party movement still matters.

In California, both Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina (also Palin-endorsed) won big. In the Senate race, the lesson from Tom Campbell’s thumping is four-fold. First, anti-Israel votes and statements are losers with the GOP base (but can earn you a J Street endorsement, kudos from Peter Beinart, or a column in the Nation). Washington politicians are out of favor — honest. And the GOP has zero interest in mushy moderates with a mixed record on taxes (i.e., Charlie Crist isn’t the only one who missed the populist revolt). Finally, it matters how strong and creative a campaign you run — better ads, a more-engaging candidate, and sharper debating beat worse ads, a less-engaging candidate, and worse debating most of the time. And from the gubernatorial primary, we can only ponder why in the world Meg Whitman wants the job of governor of a state that most resembles Greece.

The overarching picture is a familiar one: Republicans want candidates who aren’t Democratic-lite, and incumbents are guilty until proven innocent in the minds of voters. Republican women — Haley, Fiorina, Angle, and Whitman — had a good night, so Democrats will have to find an insult other than “sexist” to hurl at the GOP.

Blanche Lincoln narrowly beat her Democratic challenger Bill Halter. She is among the walking wounded stumbling into the November election and is unlikely to keep her seat. Ben Smith got the quote of the night: “A senior White House official just called me with a very pointed message for the administration’s sometime allies in organized labor, who invested heavily in beating Blanche Lincoln, Obama’s candidate, in Arkanas. ‘Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members’ money down the toilet on a pointless exercise,’ the official said. ‘If even half that total had been well-targeted and applied in key House races across this country, that could have made a real difference in November.’” I’m sure the labor bosses — like President Karzai — will adore being dissed in public. Lesson: Mushy moderates who’ve boasted about their backroom deals have a hard road ahead.

Nikki Haley overcame an adultery smear campaign and won big but fell barely short of a majority. She will have a runoff against Rep. Gresham Barrett. If she couldn’t be knocked out by rumors of a sex scandal now, she has a good chance to prevail in the runoff and become the state’s first woman governor. Lesson: Voters have become skeptical if not hostile to nasty smears; those who think that’s a winning tactic risk an equally nasty backlash. And it doesn’t hurt when you have Sarah Palin at your side to stir up the base.

In Nevada, voters dumped the incumbent, the scandal-plagued Jim Gibbons, in favor of  Brian Sandoval, who would be the state’s first Hispanic governor (and who would confuse pundits who are certain Republicans have permanently offended Hispanics). In the Senate race, Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle beat the former state chairwoman and other candidates. Lesson: Throw the bums out. And the Tea Party movement still matters.

In California, both Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina (also Palin-endorsed) won big. In the Senate race, the lesson from Tom Campbell’s thumping is four-fold. First, anti-Israel votes and statements are losers with the GOP base (but can earn you a J Street endorsement, kudos from Peter Beinart, or a column in the Nation). Washington politicians are out of favor — honest. And the GOP has zero interest in mushy moderates with a mixed record on taxes (i.e., Charlie Crist isn’t the only one who missed the populist revolt). Finally, it matters how strong and creative a campaign you run — better ads, a more-engaging candidate, and sharper debating beat worse ads, a less-engaging candidate, and worse debating most of the time. And from the gubernatorial primary, we can only ponder why in the world Meg Whitman wants the job of governor of a state that most resembles Greece.

The overarching picture is a familiar one: Republicans want candidates who aren’t Democratic-lite, and incumbents are guilty until proven innocent in the minds of voters. Republican women — Haley, Fiorina, Angle, and Whitman — had a good night, so Democrats will have to find an insult other than “sexist” to hurl at the GOP.

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