Haley may have a very short-term calculation in mind, the 2020 Republican vice-presidential nomination. Trump has long been rumored to wish to replace Vice President Mike Pence with Haley on the ticket. Haley’s book and interview suggest she may be campaigning hard for the 2020 slot. At the same time, she’s making the same bet on the 2024 future being placed by Pence, by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, by senators such as Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, and by governors such as Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida: There is no percentage in even whispering a criticism of anything Trump says or does. On some issues, such as the sellout of the Kurds, it is permissible to assert a diverging position—but even then, there must be no direct or even indirect criticism of Trump. He is the party’s great unquestionable.
All of which raises the question: Is he also the Republican Party’s political version of the financial derivatives that nearly wrecked the U.S. banking system back in 2008? Twelve years ago, the derivatives were seen as safe and solid by all respectable and responsible financial analysts. Only a few eccentrics and outliers expressed doubt, a story memorably told in Michael Lewis’s The Big Short. And then the things went bust—and the respectable and responsible never saw it coming.
Every ambitious national-level Republican is building the rest of his or her career on the assumption that come 2024, the Trump loyalists will continue to run the show. Surely there ought to be an outlier like one of Michael Lewis’s characters, willing to risk that actually Trump may come crashing down—and that Republicans will soon be wondering: “Why did nobody warn us?”