Nikki Haley arrived for her New York City presentation with open enthusiasm. She brought to the stage, the confidence of a consistent winner, the inviting swagger of a knock-out model, and a story of proven strategies that have positioned her as a mover and shaker to watch closely. Even staunch critics are muttering about her chances to become the first woman president in this country!
In one of the smaller auditoriums in the Streiker Center, Haley was a large presence with a definite game plan to reach this predominantly liberal crowd. Among President Donald Trump’s Cabinet appointments, the former Ambassador to the United Nations left her post in a decidedly different way from most other high- level officials who have headed for the hills. Not only did Haley exit unscathed, she also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve as a member of the Trump Cabinet, without all-around boos from the Democratic loyalists.
As President, Donald Trump has never opted to act irascibly (at least in public) with this cabinet member. She chose her own timetable for departure and made her exit on a high note. (Before he became president she made no bones about her tepid view of his candidacy. He brushed her off as an incidental player. But once Haley made friends with First Daughter, Ivanka Trump, Daddy Trump took another look and concluded she was no bimbo. It seems as if she took another look at the President at precisely the same time; a month later she was nominated to her Cabinet position and won Senate confirmation smoothly (96-4).
The former Governor of South Carolina knows how to size up her audience quickly and accurately, in South Carolina and Washington, and she correctly made the judgment call that New York’s Steiker Center was filled with attendees eager to hear what she had to say. Indeed, the crowd allowed ample latitude. Haley sang her former boss’s praises (in the few areas of his presidency that have been least controversial), without a single boo from VIP seats to the rafters.
Former Ambassador and former Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley may be the most respected non-contender (Republican or Democrat) for the US presidency in 2020. Thus far, President Trump has been helpful, if only by restraining his frequent impulse to diss anyone who abandons him–especially former Cabinet officials, as they take their leave for the exit door.
In recent years, Haley has been a supporter of Israel, so it was fitting that Israeli Ambassador Aharoni was her interviewer. He gave her plenty of room to rise or fall on the merit of her words. She gained traction quickly by suggesting that great politicians hold common sense in high esteem, favor doing more homework than appears to be required, and recognize that being prepared for the unexpected means keeping your cool when others around you are getting hot. Haley freely acknowledges that she has studied the playbooks of highly successful women and men.
Ambassador Haley’s presentation appealed to a broad mix of New Yorkers. It resonated with a cross-section of conservatives and independents in addition to the predominantly liberal crowd. She refused to be pushed into harsh political positions, making her case for her initiatives as Governor and thereafter as President of the UN Security Council, as she sees the world. Point by point, she brought her understanding of the facts to the table to support her position, often with empathy for people in the line of fire. And, she focused on one underpinning– an open mind for compelling solutions that make sense.
Ambassador Haley has climbed up the totem pole with gambits that tilt skeptics on their collective heads, such as advancing to decision mode, removal of the Confederate flag while Governor of her home state of South Carolina, and pushing her position that the United Nations must talk more and do more on the right side of an argument. “A timely, strong position on the right side of the argument, with the clear intent to reach the finish line, is her proven strategy to win,” she says. But more than that, her fans insist that she “makes you want to listen, even if you come to the table with an independent or diverging view.
In watching so many Democratic contenders of late, making their points to prop up their candidacies in the debates, women can could be proud that so many women have been prompted to take the plunge. Each one has shown grit and a basic understanding that being prepared is one of the keys to getting respect, but Nikki Haley could teach a lot of lessons about how to apply gutsiness as the basic timber for glory- with a credible mix of moxie and mellifluent tones.
Ambassador Haley’s presentation was a stunning example, of carefully honed political savvy, if only in the proof that common sense can provoke a long standing ovation.
Frankly, she offered a slew of additional arguments for keeping tabs on her continuing steps to sculpt her positions as well as her image. Firmly engaged in the trek toward the 2024 election proceedings– no matter which way the 2020 election goes, Haley is paving the way not only for herself but also for the competition.
When, as, and if the former Ambassador/Governor chooses to step up to the plate, there will likely be a whole new crowd of women ready to make their mark. If Haley’s contribution were solely to set an example for how women (and men) can up their game with more guts than bluster and more common sense than bullying tactics, her contribution would be “huge.” It is time to become genuinely gender-neutral in presidential politics and to stop presuming in any line of endeavor that assertive women are automatically nuts.