Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Nikki Haley steps deep into a Civil War rewrite

ABC News:

Nikki Haley doesn’t cite slavery as cause of the Civil War after question at campaign stop

She responded it was about “basically how the government was going to run.”

While several political and economic factors ultimately contributed to the start of the American Civil War, slavery was at the center of the nation’s tension.

“It was about slavery,” President Joe Biden said, responding on social media to a clip of Haley in New Hampshire.

Some things just resonate and reverberate. Nikki Haley’s comments are not easily erased, and everyone’s picked up on it. She’s been in damage control for the last 24 hours.


New York Times:

Nikki Haley’s Civil War Uproar Risks Eroding a Moderate Coalition

Ms. Haley’s avoidance of mentioning slavery as a cause of the conflict, which she walked back on Thursday, threatened to dent her crossover appeal to independents and moderate Democrats.

Prominent Democratic donors, anxious about the increasingly authoritarian language of Donald J. Trump, have been calling on Democratic voters and independents to thwart the former president’s comeback by voting for Nikki Haley in open Republican primary elections.

But Ms. Haley’s political gaffe on Wednesday night, when the presidential hopeful and former governor of South Carolina stumbled through the causes of the Civil War with no mention of slavery, may make that appeal considerably harder just as she is edging closer to striking distance of Mr. Trump in New Hampshire…

“If Democrats believe Republicans should hold their noses and vote for Joe Biden for the sake of democracy, they can model that in New Hampshire by crossing over and holding their noses to vote for Haley in the G.O.P. primary,” said Ian Bassin, a democracy advocate who recently won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant for his work. “Not because she’s a good candidate — she’s not — but because Donald Trump is an existential threat to America and any vote to stop him is a service to the country.”..

Her Civil War comments did not go away. By Thursday afternoon, the campaigns of all of her rivals for the Republican nomination, including Mr. Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, had slammed her gaffe. Mr. DeSantis, who clashed with rivals over the summer about Florida’s educational standards for the teaching of slavery, accused her of having “some problems with some basic American history.”

I get the idea, but it’s really not a very good idea. Haley isn’t Trump but she’s bad in her own right. A better idea is “don’t vote for Republicans at all.”


POLITICO Playbook:

Nikki Haley’s moment of crisis

Last night, in Berlin, New Hampshire, a voter at a town hall forum asked Haley what caused the Civil War.

There are a few big problems here for Haley.

PROBLEM #1: THE ANSWER ITSELF — You can complexify it all you want, but any answer rooted in reality must acknowledge that the correct answer is: slavery. It was the cornerstone upon which the Confederacy was built. States’ rights? Yes, inasmuch as states wanted the right to allow human beings to be owned as property. (We can’t believe we need to say this in 2023.)

What Haley said is actually in line with other answers she has given in the past when she has defended the right to secede from the United States and “described the Civil War as two sides fighting for different values, one for ‘tradition,’ and one for ‘change,’” CNN’s K-File reported earlier this year.



Haley blames a ‘Democratic plant’ for Civil War question that tripped her up

The former South Carolina governor also said that the war was, indeed, about slavery.

“It was definitely a Democrat plant,” said Haley. “That’s why I said, what does it mean to you? And if you notice, he didn’t answer anything. The same reason he didn’t tell the reporters what his name was.”..

So, if you want to make the argument for Iowa or New Hampshire going early in primary season, New Hampshire just made the case. They don’t have to be first to do it. But the Granite State was home to a notable political moment that every talking head is discussing from multiple angles.

Steven Lubet/The Hill:

The Thomas-Trump conflict hiding in plain sight

By participating at even this early stage of the case, Justice Clarence Thomas indicated that he has no intention of recusing himself in Trump-related matters, such as the former president’s disqualification from the Colorado Republican primary ballot. This despite a clear conflict of interest, due to his wife’s involvement in subverting the 2020 election.

Trump initially presented his immunity claim to District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the case in Washington, D.C. She ruled against Trump, holding that the presidency does not “confer a lifelong ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ pass [for] federal criminal liability.” Trump immediately appealed to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

Figuring that the case was inevitably headed to the Supreme Court, Smith filed an unusual (though not unprecedented) petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment, seeking to bypass the appellate court to get the issue resolved as quickly as possible.

Trump predictably objected, conceding that the immunity issue “unquestionably warrants” Supreme Court review, but arguing that it should be “resolved in a cautious, deliberative manner — not at breakneck speed.”  

Although Smith’s maneuver failed, and the immunity issue will now be addressed by the intermediate appellate court, he still put Thomas on the spot just by raising the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.


Joyce Vance/”Civil Discourse” on Substack:

Jack Smith Lays Out His Case

Jack Smith filed a motion in limine Wednesday morning. As we’ve discussed previously, this is a type of motion used to obtain a pre-trial ruling from the judge regarding the admissibility of certain types of evidence at trial.

Decisions about the admissibility of evidence are within the trial judge’s discretion. They are only reversible error (the kind that can invalidate a conviction) if the court of appeals believes the judge abused their discretion when they admitted a piece of evidence. This means prosecutors must be careful. On the one hand, they must ensure they can put in all of the evidence that is essential to prove their case. But they must also take care that they don’t push the envelope too far when it comes to either admitting their evidence or efforts to exclude evidence a defendant wants to offer.

The Guardian:

A Wisconsin rightwinger’s fall from conservative grace: ‘The Maga crowd despises him

He was in all respects a loyal rightwinger. But Vos has drawn a line at embracing Trump’s false claim that he actually won Wisconsin in 2020 and refused to join colleagues who suggested overturning the 2020 election. His unwillingness to cross that line has turned him into a pariah on the far right, a target of Lindell, an enemy of Trump and a symbol of the current state of the Republican party where loyalty to Trump is the key litmus test.

Now, Vos is fighting elements of his party that rejected the results of the 2020 election and have come to view him not as a hardline conservative who has done more than almost anyone else to strengthen Republicans’ power in the state, but as a corrupt establishment hack complicit in Trump’s undoing.

With the Trump flank of the grassroots Wisconsin Republican party as strong as ever ahead of the 2024 election, Vos is scrambling to appease his hardline party detractors so he doesn’t become a casualty of the movement he helped create.



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