- - Monday, February 17, 2020

Nikki Haley, appointed by President Trump to serve as United States ambassador to the United Nations, held that post from 2017 through 2019, performing with the same intelligence, moral clarity, and love of country that informed her three terms in the South Carolina House and two terms as the first woman governor of South Carolina, and the first Sikh-American governor ever of any state.

That the state was South Carolina, perhaps the quintessential Southern state, tells us a great deal about the real state of our union as it exists outside the fevered imaginations of the coastal  elite fed by the major media. Growing up in the small town of Bamberg, she experienced discrimination first-hand. But as she puts it, “My story is also a South Carolina story,” the story of a proud state that steadily worked to overcome racial prejudice, electing “the first African American senator in our state’s history, and the first African American from the South, my friend Tim Scott.”

During her second term as governor, the prevailing racial peace was shattered by a mass murder at the AME church in Charleston. But thanks in large part to her efforts and those of figures like Sen. Scott, the wounds were healed. She gives Jesse Jackson full credit for his role in the healing process, but much less to President Obama, who had implied the South was to blame. 

As she puts it, “I didn’t believe then and I don’t believe now that ‘our way of life’ or our ‘system’ created the killer. I would not have been elected governor if South Carolina were a racially intolerant place. Tim Scott would not have been elected senator if South Carolina was consumed with racial hatred.”

Gov. Haley would go on to engineer the removal of the Confederate flag from the State Capital grounds, and in 2016 was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.



As a strong, successful Republican woman with considerable political influence in 2016, her support was naturally sought by that year’s presidential candidates. She thought well of Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz; but in part because his personal and political stories paralleled hers ion many ways, she endorsed Marco Rubio. But when Donald Trump secured the nomination, she did her considerable best to help get him elected. 

Eight days after the election, she was attending a meeting of the Republican Governors Association (RGA), a group she was slated to lead, when she was called by Reince Priebus, just named the president–elect’s chief of staff. The president-elect wanted to talk to her and offer her a job in his administration. A series of meetings were held, and she and Donald Trump proved to see eye-to-eye on the important issues of the day, especially in the area of foreign policy, where American prestige had badly sagged. 

As a result of the talks and her solid record  she was offered the post of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, which she accepted, provided a set of conditions were met. She’d work  directly with the president, so it should be a Cabinet position; she’d require a seat on the National Security Council; and finally: “I’m not going to be a wallflower or a talking head. I have to be able to say what I think.”

“‘That’s why I want you to do this!”’ the president-elect answered.

Nikki Haley was confirmed as our ambassador to the U.N. in a 96-4 Senate vote, sworn in on Jan. 25, 2017, and hit the ground running.

“I watched other administrations refuse to take a stand at the U.N. and I was determined to do the opposite, I would always be clear about where the United States stood.” She spoke with clarity of the United States’ willingness to use military force to counter North Korean aggression, and issued similar warnings involving Syria, Iran and China. She disrupted protocol at the United Nations whenever our interests or those of our allies required it, spoke to the  corruption it frequently masks, and spoke up for Israel, often the object of heavily biased and potentially destructive resolutions.

Having discharged her duties at the U.N. with honor, Nikki Haley has returned to private life. What’s next? At one point in her story, discussing the 2016 election, she writes: “America will have a woman president someday, and I look forward to that day. Clinton was just not the right woman for the job.” 

Any thoughts about who she might be?

• John R. Coyne Jr., a former White House speechwriter, is co-author of “Strictly Right: William F. Buckley Jr. and the American Conservative Movement” (Wiley).

• • •

WITH ALL DUE RESPECT: DEFENDING AMERICA WITH SKILL AND GRACE

By Nikki R. Haley

St. Martin’s Press, $29.99, 262 pages

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