The Corner

Politics & Policy

Is the United Nations Post Nikki Haley’s Stepping Stone or Shelf?

From the midweek Morning Jolt, the last until Monday…

Meet Your New Ambassador to the United Nations, America!

There you have it, magnanimous President-elect Trump:

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the first woman tapped for a top-level administration post during his transition to the White House.

Two sources familiar with the decision, who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss it by name ahead of the announcement, also said that the ambassadorship will be a Cabinet-level position.

You aren’t mis-remembering; she was indeed a Trump critic during the primary. She initially preferred Marco Rubio and when he departed the race, she switched to Cruz. And in several public remarks, Haley went right up to the line of suggesting that his rhetoric was dangerous:

Haley said divisive rhetoric – like that seen in the presidential campaign – drives violence like the Charleston mass slaying.

Hearing that rhetoric from Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, was “the reason I was vocal about it. I know what that rhetoric can do. I saw it happen” in Charleston, she said.

“Bad things can happen when you have rhetoric like that, and people can get hurt.”

Haley said she endorsed U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida in the GOP presidential contest “to show that that’s not all of who we are.”

“I don’t think that people who support Trump are haters. I don’t think that people who support Trump are racists. I think that’s a different kind of anger in that they’re upset with Washington, D.C. They’re upset that nothing got done. And that’s what this is about.”

But, Haley added, “the way that he (Trump) communicates that, I wish were different.”

Isaac Bailey, longtime political columnist in South Carolina, wrote on CNN’s web site how Haley won him over – and how those scoffing she doesn’t fit in the world of diplomacy shouldn’t be so certain she can’t adapt to a new role:

 …it’s clear to me that those who dismiss Haley are making a serious mistake. I was there when Haley came through Myrtle Beach during her first run for governor and was being mocked then, too, by experts who said she had no shot in a state who had only elected white men for its highest office. Anyone paying attention to how she handled questions during press conferences way back then could see how clear it was that she was a force to be reckoned with. She was then dismissed again during her first term as she traded elbows with a Republican-controlled General Assembly not always allied with her — until she got the job done, again and again.

If you’re a Haley fan, there are a few lingering questions. How smoothly will she actually work with Trump and the not-yet-named Secretary of State? How much will the public even see her in this role?

Here are the last nine non-acting U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations: Samantha Power, Susan Rice, Zalmay Khalizad, John Bolton, John Danforth, John Negroponte (the era of Johns), Richard Holbrooke, Bill Richardson, Madeline Albright… if you go further back, you can find some real stars and voices of influence, long after their tenure ended: Jeane Kirkpatrick, Andrew Young, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, George H.W. Bush. But you also see names largely forgotten to history. Is this a stepping stone for Haley, or the equivalent of putting her up on a shelf to get her out of the way?