Nikki Haley on insurrection and impeaching Trump: Come on, give the man a break

I want to offer my sincere congratulations this morning to Trump and his supporters on having almost completely broken the “reasonable” wing of this collapsing party. There are still a few pockets of resistance led by Liz Cheney but MAGA’s just mopping them up at this point. Once Cheney and the pro-impeachment House Republicans are successfully primaried in 2022, the anti-Trump guerrillas will have been overrun and exterminated. Well, except for Romney and Murkowski. But at the end of any war there are always a few soldiers left alive on the losing side.

One way to understand Trump’s candidacy in 2016 and his term as president was as an experiment to see which Republican politicians, if any, actually believed the things they say. Do they care about deficits or do they not? Does personal responsibility and good character matter or doesn’t it? Do we defend the Constitution at all costs or don’t we? Which red lines are the “leaders” of this party prepared to draw and enforce even if enforcement requires them to lose their jobs and sacrifice their ambitions for higher office?

Hardly a man or woman has survived that experiment with their credibility intact. Trump exposed them all. It’s his greatest service to America, by far and away.

Which brings us to this creature, the nominal establishment favorite for the GOP nomination in 2024. If anyone should be expected to take a firm moral stance against a two-month coup attempt punctuated by an attack on Congress, you’d expect the great centrist hope to do it. All she has to say for herself here, though, is that Trump’s behavior was “not great” and that we should “give the man a break” regardless, which has to be the single lamest soundbite about uttered by any politician since January 6. At least Senate Republicans have farted out some BS jurisdictional excuse to justify voting against conviction. Haley’s actually going so far as to make Trump the victim in all this.

She wants to be president someday and now here she is surrendering unconditionally to MAGA, making clear that she’ll say anything to improve her chances. Her capitulation looks all the more servile considering that she criticized Trump more pointedly on January 7:

“President Trump has not always chosen the right words,” Haley said during an appearance at the RNC’s winter meeting on Amelia Island, Fla., according to a person familiar with her remarks. “He was wrong with his words in Charlottesville, and I told him so at the time. He was badly wrong with his words yesterday. And it wasn’t just his words. His actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history.”

Maybe she’s saying one thing to party apparatchiks like RNC attendees and another to Fox-watching Republican voters. Or, more likely, she misjudged how much of a backlash there’d be to Trump’s behavior on the right in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol attack. On January 7 it looked like there might be some momentum for convicting him. By January 25, that momentum had all but totally dissipated. Haley reworked her message accordingly.

She stands for nothing except her own ambition and now everyone knows it, in case there was any doubt. Another spectacular victory by Trump and MAGA. I’m genuinely impressed.

She’s not the only establishment hero who’s humiliated herself over the impeachment trial in the last 24 hours either. Remember whom she endorsed in the 2016 primary? Well, that guy’s busy making himself a laughingstock whom no one respects either:

Total moral collapse, which is striking in Rubio’s case because he’s an unusually moralistic politician. Whether discussing foreign policy, immigration, sending new COVID stimulus checks to American families or what have you, there’s always a humanitarian component to his arguments. By the final days of his 2016 campaign against Trump, he was making an all-out moral case against his opponent. Very presciently, too:

“This boiling point that we have reached has been fed, largely, by the fact that we have a frontrunner, in my party, who has fed into language that basically justifies physically assaulting people who disagree with you,” a clearly shaken Rubio said, referring to events at Trump rallies in Chicago, St. Louis, and elsewhere last week…

“Leaders cannot say whatever they want,” Rubio explained. “Because words have consequences. They lead to actions that others take. And when the person you’re supporting for president is going around saying things like, ‘Go ahead and slap him around, I’ll pay your legal fees,’ what do you think is going to happen next? Someone is actually going to literally believe it.”

He was worried about … incitement to violence. He was right to worry. And now, empowered as a senator to render a verdict on it, he’s lost his moral compass and taken to whining about the “radical left.” For four years I’ve cut this guy slack by assuming that he says what he says for cynical electoral reasons, not because he believes it. But … maybe he does believe it now. As a Twitter pal said, “If you have to eat sh*t every day for five years, it is easier to learn to like sh*t than to pretend for that long.” In any case, what’s the argument for preferring him to a stalwart MAGA type like Matt Gaetz in a primary at this point? They’re both going to vote the same way. They’re both going to say the same things in defense of their votes. The only difference is that Rubio *might* not be sincere. Wouldn’t you prefer someone who is? Accept his surrender, remove him from the battlefield, and let’s move on.