Early on in this administration, somebody said that only Donald Trump could have put together such a Cabinet. The man wasn't afraid to disappoint, or disrupt, the establishment--and didn't want milksop appointees doing milksoppish things. Would one of the other GOP candidates in 2016 have chosen a Pompeo or a Kelly or a DeVos? Not likely.
If an unremarkable president had appointed an uninspired Cabinet, then just now there'd be a lot of mediocre columnists writing a lot of mediocre things about the latest resignation. But there's not a whole lot of comme ci, comme ca in Nikki Haley. The other day, somebody said Nikki Haley might be the only member of the administration whose reputation has improved over the last two years. Losing her presence on the Cabinet, and America's spokesman to the world, will sting.
When was the last time this nation had such a no-nonsense diplomat at the (dis)United Nations? Was it Daniel Patrick Moynihan? Maybe Jeane Kirkpatrick? Was it as long ago as Charles Lichenstein in the 1980s? We still remember him telling the UN delegates that if they didn't feel like the United States was a good enough host, they could find another place to meet, and "the members of the U.S. mission to the United Nations will be down at the dockside waving you a fond farewell as you sail off into the sunset." He offered to resign shortly after all the pearl-clutchers at UN headquarters protested his tone. To which a president named Ronald Reagan promptly agreed with his diplomat, said the American people probably did too, and noted if the UN wished to take its business elsewhere, goodbye. Signed, the Gipper.
The Associated Press reports that Ambassador Haley will be leaving at the end of the year, and President Trump has already accepted her resignation. Nikki Haley isn't firing any shots on the way out. Instead of slamming doors, the ambassador is calmly leaving her post, giving a three-month notice, and leaving her office in better shape than she found it. Call it professional, something we see less and less of these days.
There is already speculation about why she's leaving, and why announce it at this particular time. The most convincing argument appears to be purely personal. She and her husband aren't independently wealthy. And they have kids to put through college. Nikki Haley is poised to make a lot of money in the private sector. And, since she's only 46, she has decades ahead of her if she wants to get back into government work.
For years, many of us have cheered Nikki Haley from the cheap seats. She's taken on Syria for its atrocities. She's not been interested in negotiating with the Butcher of Damascus. She's been blunt with Russia and Iran. She's stared down world diplomats at Turtle Bay who aren't used to a woman being allowed to drive a car back home, much less question their actions. And when the times called for it, she took on the White House.
When one of those ubiquitous "White House advisers" told the press that Ambassador Haley had been confused when prematurely announcing sanctions against our Fighting Russian Allies, she replied, "With all due respect, I don't get confused." Jeane Kirkpatrick couldn't have said it better--or for better effect.
Her finest hour might have been in December of 2017 when the United Nations' mock parliament, the General Assembly, voted to declare this country's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital "null and void." How arrogant. And how stupid. For it was akin to waving a red flag at this president. The United States will put our embassies where we like, thank you, and Nikki Haley explained her thoughts about that null-and-void vote to the world:
"The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out in this assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when, once again, we are called upon to make the world's largest contribution to the UN, and we will remember it when many countries come calling on us to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit."
Talk about kicking ass and taking names, the administration said it would remember the countries who voted with the United States, and against the resolution: Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo. They showed how real friends vote. Nikki Haley promised not to forget. We doubt she has.
(Let the record show, and Americans remember, that 35 nations abstained from the vote. Nobody ever accused diplomats in Western countries, as a group, of being particularly brave.)
Let us thank Nikki Haley for her fearless service. She told the world, with the backing of her boss, that this country would be Uncle Sucker no more. But instead of just talk, this administration backed it up.
We wonder where the president will find another Nikki Haley.
Then again, we once wondered if there'd ever be another Jeane Kirkpatrick. And there was.
Editorial on 10/11/2018
Print Headline: Madam ambassador