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Nikki Haley is now looking at parlaying her political capital into actual capital

She’ll have a twin advantage: Enough proven loyalty to Trump to appease his supporters and enough distance to escape the fallout of the next and succeeding Trumpian disasters. So, for those looking at a #MeToo explanation, it may be cannier to look ahead to a ‘Me To 2024’ scenario

columns Updated: Oct 12, 2018 18:32 IST
Nikki Haley resigns
As a former US Cabinet member and former governor, Nikki Haley (in photo) has the network to make some serious bucks in the years ahead(AFP)

In December last year, as charges, as usual, of sexual misconduct were swirling around the 45th president of the United States, a member of his Cabinet raised her voice and profile by saying on the American network CBS’s Face the Nation programme, “They should be heard, and they should be dealt with.”

That, of course, was Indian-American politician Nikki Haley, who has spent nearly two years as a member of Donald Trump’s Cabinet, an eternity, given the rate of turnover within that cohort. Back when she was asserting that she thought “any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up,” most people figured the remainder of her tenure as the US permanent representative to the United Nations had an expiry date of just a few days, rather than the months that transpired. As she announced her resignation from Team Trump, many linked it to the swearing-in of Brett Kavanaugh as the newest judge of the US Supreme Court, despite being in the eye of the #MeToo storm.

The reality, though, is that the exit door did not feature a #MeToo sign as her chummy farewell presser with Trump proved. Instead, after 14 years in office since she was first elected to the legislature in her home state of South Carolina, she has earned plenty of political capital and is now looking at parlaying that into actual capital.

As a former US Cabinet member and former governor, she has the network to make some serious bucks in the years ahead. If she does utilise the break to replenish her account, (reports suggest she’s $1 million in debt), she’ll have plenty of time to spend on politics in the future.

During the 2016 nomination cycle, she described herself as “not a fan” of Trump. But that was reflective of the climate within the Republican party establishment at the time. That changed, and politicians being fair weather folk, so did Haley. Over 20 months in New York, at the headquarters of the US mission to the UN, she has managed to carve out enough red meat for the base instinct of the party as it is today: From supporting Trump’s decision to shift the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, to pulling America out of the UN Human Rights Council.

And just as she will exchange the political treasure she has accumulated for a corporate bonanza, in another five years, she may well play a return engagement, expending some of that real wealth into political fortune for the post-Trump cycle, regardless of whether the White House incumbent is re-elected in 2020.

She’ll have a twin advantage. Enough proven loyalty to Trump to appease his supporters and enough distance to escape the fallout of the next and succeeding Trumpian disasters. So, for those looking at a #MeToo explanation, it may be cannier to look ahead to a ‘Me To 2024’ scenario.

Anirudh Bhattacharyya is a Toronto-based commentator on American affairs

The views expressed are personal

First Published: Oct 12, 2018 17:59 IST