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FLOWERS: When Nikki Haley Roared

August 29, 2023
| NH Journal by Christine Flowers

I’m not the kind of person that cottons to the idea of “girl power.” I am woman, you will not hear me roar. I will not be seeing the Barbie movie. I do not believe all women. MeToo is not only a lie; it’s bad grammar. And the worst “F” word for me is Feminist.

Just to get that out of the way.

But every now and then, I do look at myself in the mirror and appreciate the fact that I have two X chromosomes instead of that pesky “Y.”

Debate night was one of those times.

I had just come from a fantastic dinner with four women I’d gone to school with at Merion Mercy Academy in the last century. (Literally, it was the last century, although they looked fabulous.) We’d reminisced about old friends, and older nuns, and the wine and affection flowed freely. It occurred to me that having gone to a girls’ Catholic school was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

And then I went home and turned on the TV so I could watch the gladiatorial debates between all of the GOP candidates not named Donald Trump. I say “gladiatorial” with tongue in cheek because I wasn’t expecting fireworks from a panel that included Asa Hutchinson, Mike Pence, the guy from North Dakota, and Tim Scott, all very nice and accomplished men who don’t scream. I was expecting Chris Christie to do his “I’m The CNN Avenger Come To Take Out Trump” schtick, and I also thought that Vivek Ramaswamy and Ron DeSantis would get into it a bit (which didn’t happen.)

What I wasn’t expecting was to be wowed by the woman who did, in fact, do Helen Reddy justice and roared.

Former South Carolina governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley was loud, proud, and quite brilliant when it came to putting her male opponents in their places regarding foreign affairs. And that makes sense, given her pedigree and her experience screaming at tyrants from across the table at the UN. None of the other candidates had a chance, at least concerning international relations.

I know that a lot of people hold a lot of different opinions on our relationship with Russia and the war in Ukraine. I am personally in the anti-Putin-Russia dictator who invaded another country camp, and I am not opposed to additional aid to a Western ally.

But even if I was, I could have taken a step back and simply admired the forthright courage of a woman who didn’t mince words about a man who very likely, earlier that day, had orchestrated the murder of another of his opponents, Wagner CEO Yevgeny Preghozin. Haley actually referenced that when it seemed that the boys weren’t in the mood to speak truths to power. That alone made me feel proud to have angry ovaries.

The GOP has always been the party of international strength, of standing up to tyrants, of ripping a giant hole in the Iron Curtain. Reagan didn’t do it by himself, and he stood on the shoulders of other conservative giants who believed that you deal with despots from a position of strength, not conciliatory gestures. Haley reminded me of them and the tradition of politicians, often derisively called “neo-con.” And while I do not believe we should be going around the world as Human Rights Policeman without any assistance from our allies, I am also convinced that ridiculing the efforts to end the war in Ukraine is not in any way, shape, or form conservative.

That sets me apart from many in my tribe, and I don’t actually care. Neither does Haley. She showed that Wednesday night with aplomb and eloquence.

I don’t know if Nikki will make it to the finish line. It’s too far away to make any predictions, and the Trump card, so to speak, has not played out. But I can tell you that watching her on stage was a revelation, and it made me, for a brief moment, want to dig out my old Ambassador Barbie (yes, there was one) and hug her.

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