Is Nikki Haley in trouble with the White House? Probably not.
One of the people in the Trump administration who has thus far evaded most of the media’s direct fire and the questions surrounding some other appointments is UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. The fact that she seems to be doing so well, even in terms of her good standing with the President, is made all the more remarkable because she frequently makes statements which are at odds with administration positions. But the New York Times wonders if that may be coming to an end after some random comments that Trump made during a recent interview.
She seems to be in Trump’s good graces. At a White House luncheon for U.N. diplomats last week, he said Haley was doing a “fantastic job” — but only after awkwardly joking that if the diplomats didn’t like her, “she could easily be replaced.”
Haley, a rookie to international politics, was an unusual pick for to be U.N. envoy…
She has star power in an administration where the president prefers to keep attention on himself. In some ways, the 45-year-old Haley is seizing the spotlight left vacant by media-averse Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Her high-profile persona and relative youth have prompted speculation that she may run for president someday.
That sounds like some thin gruel to base a fresh “White House in disarray” story on. Trump saying that anyone could easily be replaced is just Trump being Trump. If he was having any serious angst over Haley’s freestyle attitude toward foreign policy we’d have heard about it by now and seen some significantly more forceful corrections coming out of the State Department. (Haley technically works under State in her position, but it’s a fairly independent role.)
I find myself being less interested in the friction level between the UN Ambassador and the Oval office than what sort of long game Haley herself may be playing. As the Times piece notes, they are hardly the first ones to notice that she seems to be building up a resume which most aspiring national figures would salivate over. She has legislative experience from the state House of Representatives in South Carolina, executive experience as governor and now is amassing international diplomacy credentials working face to face with diplomats from every corner of the world. On top of that, she’s still very young for someone at that level of governmental experience and will only be 52 when the election of 2024 rolls around.
Am I crazy, or does this all sound like far more than coincidence? Add to that the fact that the GOP is frequently criticized for not having enough women and minorities at the highest levels and it almost sounds as if the table is being set for her in advance.
She’s been getting some rave reviews in rather odd places too. Just this week the LA Times ran a piece on her where even they couldn’t find much negative to say. They begin with a recap of the storm of boos and jeers she received from a largely liberal audience during a recent speaking event (and the fact that she handled the entire thing with grace under fire) and move from there into what sounds suspiciously like an approving tone.
Nikki Haley provides strong voice for Trump’s foreign policy
Unlike some of her predecessors at the U.N., Haley often displays a down-home charm that reveals her Southern upbringing, peppering her comments with “gonnas” and “wannas.”
“And what we’re gonna say is it’s just not gonna work,” she told CBS News when asked about North Korea’s threats about using military force.
As a diplomat, however, Haley has been as contrarian as the president she represents…
But she also has voiced more concern for human rights abuses than the White House, penning a column that said ignoring the issue leads to “a vicious cycle of violence and instability.”
She even has appeared to contradict, or at least politely correct, the president.
The beauty of the UN Ambassador position is that it’s fairly high profile and rich in international diplomacy credibility without having too much in the way of weighty responsibility. She’s totally outside the mess of domestic legislative action and aside from casting votes on behalf of the United States on UN measures which are almost entirely symbolic, there’s not too much that can blow up in her face. (Assuming she stays on message.) Add to that the fact that she comes off very well on television and you’ve got a recipe for something big in the future.
So is she in trouble, as the Times seems to be suggesting? I’d say pretty much the opposite. Of anyone associated with the Trump administration at the moment, she seems to be the one who’s coming up roses for the time being.