Nikki Haley’s speech

I watched three of the speeches delivered at the Republican Convention last night — those of Nikki Haley, Donald Trump Jr., and Tim Scott. Based on what I heard, I agree with my Power Line colleagues that the Republicans got off to a fine start.

Haley and Scott embody the American dream and its relevance for minority group members and immigrants. They are walking proof that America doesn’t need an overhaul. It just needs freedom and a populace willing to do what it has always taken to succeed.

Scott’s speech was the command performance of the evening. It deserves the attention it has received. In this post, though, I want to focus on Haley’s speech.

It won me over with the first few lines. They invoked another former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., the great Jeane Kirkpatrick, and her famous “they always blame America first” indictment of Democrats. Haley stated:

That ambassador said, and I quote, “Democrats always blame America first.” The year was 1984. The president was Ronald Reagan. And Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick’s words are just as true today.

Joe Biden and the Democrats are still blaming America first. Donald Trump has always put America first. He has earned four more years as President.

Exactly. Haley drove the point home with some specifics:

Now, the U.N. is not for the faint of heart. It’s a place where dictators-murderers-&-thieves denounce America… and then put their hands out and demand that we pay their bills.

Well, President Trump put an end to all that. With his leadership, we did what Barack Obama and Joe Biden refused to do. We stood up for America… and we stood against our enemies.

Obama and Biden let North Korea threaten America. President Trump rejected that weakness, and we passed the toughest sanctions on North Korea in history.

Obama and Biden let Iran get away with murder and literally sent them a plane full of cash. President Trump did the right thing and ripped up the Iran nuclear deal.

Obama and Biden led the United Nations to denounce our friend and ally, Israel. President Trump moved our embassy to Jerusalem — and when the U.N. tried to condemn us, I was proud to cast the American veto.

This President has a record of strength and success. The former Vice President has a record of weakness and failure. Joe Biden is good for Iran and ISIS… great for Communist China… and he’s a godsend to everyone who wants America to apologize, abstain, and abandon our values.

Donald Trump takes a different approach. He’s tough on China, and he took on ISIS and won. And he tells the world what it needs to hear.

(Emphasis added)

This is, or should be, the Trump campaign’s foreign policy line. Strength is better than weakness. Enemies should be defied, not conciliated.

But Haley comes across best not as a defiant foreign policy figure, but as a leader who stands up without apology for America on the domestic front, but with a winning personality and without alienating normal Americans. She’s an asset in this regard for Trump, too, because he has turned off some potential supporters with his stridency.

Thus, Haley’s main job last night was to present a friendly, optimistic, and even somewhat conciliatory face as she vouched for the president on the home front. Haley succeeded.

After a solid, but standard attack on the Democrats’ economic policies, she turned to her personal story:

There’s one more important area where our President is right. He knows that political correctness and “cancel culture” are dangerous and just plain wrong.

In much of the Democratic Party, it’s now fashionable to say that America is racist. That is a lie. America is not a racist country.

This is personal for me. I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants. They came to America and settled in a small southern town. My father wore a turban. My mother wore a sari. I was a brown girl in a black and white world.

We faced discrimination and hardship. But my parents never gave in to grievance and hate. My mom built a successful business. My dad taught 30 years at a historically black college. And the people of South Carolina chose me as their first minority and first female governor.

America is a story that’s a work in progress. Now is the time to build on that progress, and make America even freer, fairer, and better for everyone. That’s why it’s tragic to see so much of the Democratic Party turn a blind eye toward riots and rage

The American people know we can do better. And of course we know that every single black life is valuable.

The black cops who’ve been shot in the line of duty — they matter. The black small business owners who’ve watched their life’s work go up in flames — they matter. The black kids who’ve been gunned down on the playground — their lives matter too. And their lives are being ruined and stolen by the violence on our streets.

(Emphasis added)

This is, or should be, the Trump campaign’s line on Black Lives Matter.

Then, in the most moving portion of her speech, Haley, the healer, appeared in full:

It doesn’t have to be like this. It wasn’t like this in South Carolina five years ago. Our state came face-to-face with evil. A white supremacist walked into Mother Emanuel Church during Bible Study. Twelve African Americans pulled up a chair and prayed with him for an hour. Then he began to shoot.

After that horrific tragedy, we didn’t turn against each other. We came together — black and white, Democrat and Republican. Together, we made the hard choices needed to heal — and removed a divisive symbol, peacefully and respectfully.

What happened then should give us hope now. America isn’t perfect. But the principles we hold dear are perfect. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that even on our worst day, we are blessed to live in America.

It’s time to keep that blessing alive for the next generation. This President, and this Party, are committed to that noble task. . . .

(Emphasis added)

Haley never strayed from her mission of trying to boost President Trump’s status with voters, especially women, who are outside of the president’s base. But, of course, Haley also wanted to boost her status as a future presidential or vice presidential candidate.

By making a strong case for Trump’s reelection while reinforcing her own, very different persona, I think she helped herself, as well as the president.