For all the encomiums she delivered to Trump and his coterie today, Nikki Haley delivered an unexpected blow to the Trump White House by announcing her resignation. Her announcement caught Trump flatfooted, coming after the previous evening’s revelries at the White House, where he turned a ceremony for newly minted Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh into a political pep rally that is likely to further enrage his detractors and opponents. The sudden defection of one of his big stars is exactly the kind of television programming that Trump loathes, particularly on the eve of the November midterm elections, which Politico says look increasingly ominous for Republican control of the House of Representatives.
Neocons such as Bill Kristol are celebrating, convinced that this augurs a run by Haley in 2020. She was seen as a standard-bearer for a more mainstream Republican foreign policy as opposed to Trump’s nationalist sallies. Max Boot on CNN called her resignation a ‘sad moment.’ The notion that Haley would run in 2020 against Trump, however, seems implausible, unless he completely flames out. She was careful to signal her overt fealty to Trump.
But Haley was most effusive in her praise for her soulmates Jared and Ivanka who form the anti-Bannonite resistance. ‘I can’t say enough good things about Jared and Ivanka. Jared is such a hidden genius that no one understands… We’re a better country because they’re in this administration.’ She ascribed the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico almost solely to Kushner’s negotiating prowess, something that would like come as news to Steve Mnuchin and Robert Lighthizer. She also seemed to believe that Jared is making great strides towards Middle East peace. If he is a genius, it is indeed well-concealed.
Perhaps Trump will tap his former national security aide Dina Powell or his ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell to replace Haley. Haley has indicated that she will stay on until the end of the year, but the timing of her announcement has clearly unsettled the Trump White House. For his part, Trump is indicating that he will make a ‘big announcement’ tonight in Iowa, where he continues to stump for GOP candidates. But the auguries do not look good. According to NBC News, the GOP continues to take it on the chin in the Big 10 states: ‘In Iowa, there’s a good chance the GOP could lose the state’s governor’s mansion, as well as two House seats (IA-1 and IA-3, which includes Council Bluffs). In Michigan, Democrats appear poised for big wins up and down the ballot. Ditto in Minnesota (although the GOP is trying to pick up a couple of House seats in the rural parts of the state). In Ohio, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown is cruising to victory, while the gubernatorial race is a toss-up. In Pennsylvania, Democrats are way ahead in the Senate and governor’s races, and they could pick up four or five House seats. And in Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker is in the fight of his political life.’
Could it be that Haley is simply intent on exiting before the big collapse in the ratings of Trump’s presidential reality show arrive?