Thursday, January 14, 2016
Gov. Haley and the State of the Union
On the night of Barack Obama's last hurrah, he got upstaged, big-time, and no one saw it coming.
It should have been his night, love him or hate him. It was, after a fashion, his swan song. You can argue the point, but there is, on the political calendar, few if any similar opportunities for saying what a president wants said than the annual State of the Union speech/sermon; and all but the most stiff-necked Obama haters will admit the man is good at making speeches.
And he had game on Tuesday night. Loads of supporters claim his final State of the Union was one of very best speeches, and he's had a ton of stemwinders. The time to lay out his agenda is over; no one expected a shopping list of must-have legislation. What he attempted instead was to do what Republican presidential candidates are not doing, not because they can't, but because they've been so good at surveying the foul mood among this nation's conservatives.
Mostly it's woe that's being peddled by Trump and the Red State Gang. It's woe and woe and woe--how America is listing in a sea of tumult created by the incompetent Muslim. How the only way to make America strong again is to put up walls at home and make the desert glow. To speak harshly, carry a big stick, and use it, dammit.
"The United States is the most powerful nation on earth. Period," Obama said Tuesday night, in a fashion that makes very clear the terms are not uncertain. He wanted to preach hope that night, belief in country, something GOP faves claim to be in short supply.
And he was good. He was Obama-good. Only Obama haters--and they are legion--will claim otherwise.
But, if not in rhetoric, in substance, Gov. Nikki Haley outdid him, shocking listeners by actually taking on Donald Trump, the far-and-away leading candidate for the Republican nomination, like it or not. Trump is a bully, and he doesn't like pushback. But on the night of the State of the Union, he got it in spades from not only the exiting, greatly hated President Barack Obama, but also the woman chosen as the spokesperson of his own party (if he has one), South Carolina's Gov. Nikki Haley.
Now Ms. Haley was swept into office on the basis of her orthodox conservative credentials. She was--but probably is no more--a tea-partier. And let's be clear: her rebuttal to the President's speech didn't slight Obama's faults. She laid into him as viciously as one might expect.
But the real story was this line: “Today, we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory. During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation,”
And if anyone doubted she was talking about Donald Trump, she pulled a play out his own playbook the next day when she doubled-down on what she'd said on the Today show and elsewhere that, yes, America, I was talking about the Donald.
That's the line that zinged all over the world, that had wing-nuts from the right fuming, that prompted some Trump disciples to call for sending Ms. Haley back to India, where her parents came from.
Look, in recent history, Republican rebuttals have been shipwrecks. The only thing America remembers of Marco Rubio's was his pitiable reach for bottled water. Bobby Jindel looked like little Lord Fauntleroy. Along comes Nikki Haley, and the whole world listens.
Here's the news. Trump and all those who preach fear and hate got nailed twice on Tuesday night. They expected some body blows from Obama--everyone did. But they didn't expect getting slapped around by their own. And they did.
It was an amazing moment in this amazing political year.
Will it make a difference? Probably not. If you honestly and truly want to believe in shock and awe, then you're not going to let an Indian woman--even one toting an assault rifle--talk you out of it. To most of his people, Trump is still the savior.
Posted by J. C. Schaap at 6:24 AM