Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nikki Haley and the new Samurai: Lonely are the brave in South Carolina

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 6/22/10

Like Paul Potts singing Nessun dorma on “Britain’s Got Talent,” transcendent moments come like a bolt of lightning in the middle of the night. Another came last week when Joseph Cao, representative from Louisiana, said to BP America President Lamar McKay during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing: “Well, in the Asian culture we do things differently. During the Samurai days, we’d just give you the knife and ask you to commit hara-kiri.”

From the start, Nikki Haley, who is running for governor in South Carolina, has brought the same sense of clarity to her campaign. She is a Methodist, but like Cao’s samuri, she hails from an Asian warrior tradition. She is on the forefront of a rising edge of conservatism that might best have been described by Ross Douthat in a recent column at The New York Times: “Liberals had hoped that Obama’s election marked the beginning of a long progressive era — a new New Deal, a greater Great Society. Instead, from the West Coast to Western Europe, the welfare state is in crisis everywhere they look. The future suddenly seems to belong to austerity and retrenchment — and even, perhaps, to conservatism.”

Haley is expected to win her primary today, but it has been a tough campaign, plagued by bottom feeding pols from the old school and the kind of shenanigans Southern style, that we from New York, Philadelphia and Chicago are well acquainted with. But South Carolina and most of the South are in the process of transitioning to positive leadership and economy, so it was most important that outside help appear for Haley in the time of trouble. It was the time to be brave. But only two were brave: Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin. Both saw the potential in Haley and both saw the forces rising to stop her. And both put boots on the ground to help.

It should be remembered in 2012: Who was brave when it was time to be brave. Another who was brave was Jenny Sanford, wife of governor Mark Sanford, who stood up for Haley from the first and without whose help Haley may not have had the chance to shine. Mrs. Sanford should be rewarded by a position in Haley’s government; the one that takes over the governorship if by any chance Haley is selected as vice president in a couple of years on a Romney or Palin ticket.