Haley’s Civil War answer has her adversaries going bonkers.
Recently, presidential candidate Nikki Haley stumbled a bit when asked the causes of the Civil War. Haley gave an academic answer about the Constitution and personal freedom. It was a fight against the government imposing its corrupt will on we the people. Or more specifically, government – southern Democrat style — imposing slavery on people in defiance of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
The obvious common answer to the question is “slavery.” In fact, that is such a knee-jerk response – common knowledge – that one can wonder why the question was even asked. Regardless. Haley’s response was obtuse and inarticulate, to say the least. She could have expressed herself better in a political sense.
The more interesting aspect of the issue was the reaction from Democrats, the media and GOP rivals. Even in the world of political spinning, the response was a T10 super tornado.
First of all, what Haley said was incomplete, but not entirely wrong. It was more of a professorial answer than a political one.
Historians have often listed several reasons for the Civil War. In fact, there are many in academia who argue that slavery may have been a secondary factor, but the issue of secession was the primary cause of the war. (That was my college professor’s view). Do the states have a right to secede? President Lincoln even stated that the primary goal of the Civil War was to “preserve the union.” Not to resolve slavery.
While he was an abolitionist based on human morality and the Jeffersonian interpretation of the Declaration of Independence, the issue of slavery would be decided apart from the Civil War by an intact Union. Slavery was not settled by the Civil War, but by the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments that followed the war.
In addition to the question of abolition of slavery, was the issue of states’ rights. The south argued that slavery was an issue that states had the right to determine on their own. It was not a violation of the Constitution. But abolition of slavery was just one of the states’ rights questions raised by the southern states. What states can or cannot do was a broader issue involving secession. Ironically, America is dealing with the same constitutional question with regard to states attempting to remove President Trump from the ballot. Other historians argue that the tension between the industrial north and the agricultural south was a contributing factor to the Civil War.
Despite her politically maladroit response, suggesting that Haley did not know the significance of slavery in contributing to southern secession – or was attempting to downplay the history of that evil institution – is absurd. But that did not stop her political adversaries on the left – and those trying to replace her as the strongest challenger to Trump in the GOP primaries – from going ballistic.
For several days, the story of Haley’s gaffe got major top-of-the news coverage. The nutty left went nuts with trying to frame her answer as a dog whistle appeal to millions of voters that they consider to be racist, xenophobic, misogynist cretins. They used their spin on here response to smear the entire Republican Party. They were implying – and even saying — that Haley is a racist and white supremacist who is trying to whitewash (no pun intended) black history. They even questioned the sincerity of Haley’s removing the Confederate battle flag from a place of honor on the grounds of the Southern Carolian Capitol Building.
The coverage was so extended, distorted, and mendacious that the motives became obvious. The left viewed Haley as a viable candidate who could handily beat President Biden were she to get the nomination. So, they unleashed the hounds of political propaganda and character assassination in an attempt to demonize her. It is what they do.
The attacks, however, did not only come from Democrats and the leftwing media. Two of her rivals for the GOP nomination piled on. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie used the leftwing press coverage to assert the claim that Haley is not fit to be president. A former governor and ambassador to the United Nations – and the candidate with the best chance of defeating Trump in the Republican primaries – is not as good as a governor and ex-governor to be President.
DeSantis came off as a desperate whiner, saying that Haley was “not ready for prime time.” This from a candidate whose campaign has been marked by blunders. Christie apparently forget how he defended Haley as a very able and accomplished woman in the most recent debate. One can file the DeSantis and Christie comments under “cheap shots.”
The dishonest overreaction to Haley’s answer shows that she engenders fear and desperation in the heart of her political adversaries. Neither Haley’s statement nor the over-the-top reaction is likely to have much impact on voters as they evaluate Haley as a presidential candidate. If there are any losers in the confrontation, it is more likely to be those who put this non-issue through a super charged political spin machine.
So, there ‘tis.