Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: End of year edition, with Nikki Haley still in the spotlight

Isaac J Bailey/POLITICO (from March):

I Know What Nikki Haley Has Gone Through. That’s Why Her Rhetoric on Race Infuriates Me.

The presidential candidate has long used her family’s experience with discrimination to establish her political brand. But to win a GOP primary she is diminishing that painful history.

I empathize with Nikki Haley’s struggle with race because in many ways her struggle mirrors my own.

She and I were born 310 days apart in 1972. We both grew up in predominantly Black rural regions of South Carolina, she in Bamberg, the county seat of one of the state’s smallest counties, and me in the tiny town of St. Stephen in Berkeley County…

But Haley often only empathizes with people like me when it advances her political pursuits. The discrimination she endured, which she used to craft her political brand, magically disappears (or its edges are sanded down) when she speaks to a crowd of people who want to believe it never existed. At times, she has weaponized her story against Black and brown people who don’t identify as conservative or the policies that might uplift them.

It’s a shame this has to be repeated, but after Nikki Haley couldn’t/wouldn’t identify “slavery” as the cause of the Civil War …

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John Stoehr/The Editorial Board:

What Haley’s Civil War gaffe reveals about the Republicans

There is no place for a “reasonable” candidate.

Magdi Jacobs, an Editorial Board contributor, said that “the fascinating thing about Haley’s response was her discomfort. You could feel her flailing as she reached for the perfect combo of a pre-Donald Trump conservative ‘states’ rights’ answer to appeal to centrist voters, all while knowing that the insurrectionists want more racist red meat.”

“This is a balance no one can strike,” Magdi concluded. “It shows how fundamentally weak the current GOP is, even if our political media doesn’t want to admit it. You can’t win without Trump. I firmly believe – and I think Haley does, too – that you can’t win with him either.”

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The New York Times:

Maine Joins Colorado in Finding Trump Ineligible for Primary Ballot

Maine found Donald Trump ineligible to hold office because of his actions after the 2020 election. California said his name would remain on the ballot there.

Another court decision is expected in Oregon, where the same group that filed the Michigan lawsuit is also seeking to have the courts remove Mr. Trump from the ballot there, though Oregon’s secretary of state declined to remove him in response to an earlier challenge.

In California, Secretary of State Shirley Weber, a Democrat, had faced a Thursday deadline to certify the list of official candidates so that local election officials could begin preparing ballots for the upcoming election.

She had indicated in recent days that she was inclined to keep Mr. Trump on the ballot based on her interpretation of California law, despite a late request from the lieutenant governor to explore ways to remove him.

The thing about these decisions is that each state is following its own laws on this and, even the preliminary rulings in favor of keeping Donald Trump on the primary ballot might be challenged for the general election. The Supreme Court will have the final word, but it will be interesting to see how they deal with the state court fact-finders who label Trump an insurrectionist.

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Perry Bacon, Jr/The Washington Post:

Yes, Trump should be removed from the ballot

In the 14th Amendment, we have a provision that is already on the books and that might allow us to keep Trump from ever being president again. We should use it.

The argument that doing so would be undemocratic is nonsense. Democracy is not just elections; it’s also a broader system of rules, laws and norms. Even if you think democracy is mostly about elections, you can’t support having Trump as president again, because he only supports elections if he is declared the winner. It cannot be a requirement of democracy that you allow the election of leaders who will then end free and fair elections — and therefore democracy itself.

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The New York Times with a reminder not to believe what you hear on social media or Fox News.

After Rise in Murders During the Pandemic, a Sharp Decline in 2023

The country is on track for a record drop in homicides, and many other categories of crime are also in decline, according to the F.B.I.

Detroit is on track to record the fewest murders since the 1960s. In Philadelphia, where there were more murders in 2021 than in any year on record, the number of homicides this year has fallen more than 20 percent from last year. And in Los Angeles, the number of shooting victims this year is down more than 200 from two years ago.

The decrease in gun violence in 2023 has been a welcome trend for communities around the country, though even as the number of homicides and the number of shootings have fallen nationwide, they remain higher than on the eve of the pandemic.

Here’s a very interesting discussion at The Bulwark on Haley’s big screw-up; it is not dismissive of the event. The panel includes A.B. Stoddard, Jim Swift, Damon Linker, Linda Chavez, and Bill Galston.

Noah Berlatsky/Public Notice:

Biden doesn’t get enough credit for his economic record

His progressive policies have worked, and Dems shouldn’t be shy about saying so.

Biden’s strong economic stewardship hasn’t yet shown up in his approval numbers, which remain quite bad. According to 538’s tracker, he’s currently at 39.1 approve/55.2 disapprove, which puts him 16.1 points underwater. Cable and mainstream news is consumed with his weak polling versus Trump; the horrific ongoing war in Gaza has split his coalition, and especially alienated young voters.

But US economic performance also offers some real reasons for hope. Economic indicators have been strong for some time, and that indicates real gains for Americans.

The benefits of low unemployment and wage growth haven’t boosted Biden’s numbers so far, but they may yet — and even if they don’t, progressives should emphasize their importance if we want to build on them.

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Benjamin Wittes/”Dog Shirt Daily” on Substack:

“What Do You Want Me To Say About Slavery?”

The truth of the matter is that I can’t recall a time I have ever wanted to hear Nikki Haley say anything on any subject. So there’s an antecedent problem embedded in Haley’s question, which is that if you remove the “about slavery” part from it, the answer to what I want Nikki Haley to say is pretty close to a null set.

Or at least it was, and I suspect I’m not alone in this shift. Because the moment some flinty New Englander (we are obliged to describe all New Hampshire voters as “flinty” in the run-up to the New Hampshire primary) asked her about the cause of the Civil War and she became incapable of saying the word “slavery,” well, everything changed.

“We need to have capitalism,” she managed to say. “We need to have economic freedom.”

It’s an interesting set of vegetables to emerge from the word salad of her response. Which side exactly, in Haley’s history of the Civil War, represented capitalism and economic freedom and which side represented government getting in the way of human liberty? Was she referring here to the kind of capitalism that involves the free trade in human beings? Or was she referring to the kind of capitalism that involves human beings having the right to enter and exit contracts of employment for which they receive wages? She was not altogether clear on the subject.

Matt McNeill and Cliff Schecter on maybe the end of Trumpism? The beginning of the end? The end of the beginning?

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