Haley: Building her own brand
Another week, “another humiliation of a Trump Cabinet official at the hands of the president,” said Matt Lewis in TheDailyBeast.com. Trump’s latest victim is Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Two weeks ago, Haley announced on CBS’s Face the Nation that new sanctions would be imposed on Russian companies that may have helped manufacture the chemical weapons Bashar al-Assad recently used on Syrian civilians. President Trump reportedly was enraged by her statement, and two days later, Larry Kudlow, Trump’s new economic adviser, said no decision had been made on new sanctions, suggesting that Haley had been suffering from “momentary confusion.” Haley defiantly retorted, “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” It’s Trump, of course, who was confused—about Russia sanctions and so much else, said Dana Milbank in The Washington Post. Our erratic president obviously reversed the sanctions decision, and in the process, made Haley “look like a fool.”
Actually, said Molly Roberts in WashingtonPost.com, this incident was “a coup” for Haley. Not only did she force an apology out of Kudlow—a rarity in this administration—she positioned herself as “a truth-teller apart from a cabal of liars,” and a woman who can stand up to Trump. That may make her immune to “the ignominy that has befallen many a member of the Trump administration.” During the 2016 campaign, said A.B. Stoddard in RealClearPolitics.com, Haley—an Indian-American—was an outspoken critic of Trump’s racially charged rhetoric. Since he named her ambassador to the U.N., she has pointedly “not stooped to the sycophancy most of her colleagues have.” Haley clearly intends to preserve and burnish her reputation “for the future.”
That future might include a 2020 presidential candidacy, said Pamela Falk in TheHill.com. The former South Carolina governor has strong credentials, and if she can now build a reputation for principled independence from Trump, she could be perfectly positioned to make an “Oval Office run” of her own. Her problem is that Trump knows it, said E.J. Dionne Jr. in The Washington Post. White House aides have been whispering that he’s “uneasy with her ambition”—and that was even before Haley pushed back hard on the sanctions. If she’s serious about running for president, Haley should consider “leaving this listing ship on her own terms,” before Trump makes her look bad—perhaps on purpose next time.