South Carolina Gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley is pushing on with her message—and leading the polls by quite a margin—despite the all-too-usual disdain some hold for women in politics … and the stigma attached to her ethnicity (a state senator referred to her as a “raghead”). Oh, and she’s also been accused of sleeping around.
Will Folks, a conservative blogger, and lobbyist Larry Marchant, a former campaign worker for rival Andre Bauer, who sits at the bottom of the poll, said they’ve shared pillow talk with Haley. Then, state Sen. Jake Knotts used “raghead” to describe Haley and the president of the United States, two elected officials who may be politically opposed but are similar in the way that matters most to Knotts.
Haley, a Methodist, was born and raised in South Carolina and attended Clemson University there; her parents, immigrants from India, are Sikhs, which must make Haley some sort of stealth candidate in Knotts’ view.
The politically tainted accusations of sexual misconduct, the ethnic slurs passed off as harmless and “intended in jest,” reek of sexism and nativism that is unfortunately as American as the apple pie some would also see as under attack – maybe by a sexy dish with multicultural spices. While Americans talk a good game about welcoming everyone, it’s clear that to a lot of people some citizens are more American than others. In 1928, the Catholicism of presidential candidate Al Smith was a deal-breaker. That you have to now have Muslims or Sikhs in the family tree to engender the wrath of some Christian Americans could, I suppose, be considered slow progress.
I don’t know, I think it’s pretty sad that Nikki Haley has had to endure so much crap. However, perhaps it’s working in her favor a bit:
According to a Public Policy Polling survey conducted June 5-6, Haley leads the Republican field of four at 43 percent, with her closest competitor 20 points behind. She has actually gained four points since the last survey taken before infidelity accusations and an ethnic slur took the race to a new low.
Many South Carolinians – embarrassed by a new wave of national ridicule – have certainly had enough. They would prefer a serious debate on jobs, health care and education. Some are still plenty mad and showed it at a Haley rally in Rock Hill, S.C., on Friday. “Haley’s Comet, Bye-Bye Boys!” read one sign.
“If they weren’t so scared, they wouldn’t have to bring this stuff up,” said Lindy Wetherell, a Lake Wylie small-business owner, wife and mother of three sons. Wetherell said women “have to be so much better than a man” when they compete. Like many women in the workforce, she has a story to tell. In a former job at a printing company, when she finished first in a sales drive, Wetherell said she heard the whispers and insults about how she should be earning a secretary’s pay. She said she admires Haley’s integrity. “She’s so down-to-earth.”
Okay, I was nice to Sarah Palin yesterday. I have to get back to my usual take on the former Alaskan Governor today and mention that, while I am impressed by Nikki Haley as a strong woman (even though I disagree with her politically), it makes me very, very nervous that she is being supported publicly by Palin. Apparently, I’m not alone here.
Palin’s input is problematic. While she has supported her “good friend” Haley through her troubles, Palin’s “real America” rhetoric is fuel for those who would divide the country between true patriots and everyone else. It’s been used to contrast her supporters with those who voted for President Obama, Tea Party and/or NRA members vs. those who abstain, rural vs. urban.
Unease with “the other” is behind Knotts’ foul notion of Haley and President Obama as not authentically American. Since Palin allowed cries of “terrorist” and signs asking for Obama’s birth certificate at campaign rallies without rebuke, she has to own a piece of that sentiment. When you toss out red meat, you can’t be surprised when the crowd smells blood.
Yeah, Sarah Palin, if you’re going to allow your supporters to rip Obama’s legitimacy and then support a candidate that opens the door for many of the same, albeit absurd, “concerns,” that’s just a wee bit hypocritical.
That said, though, it’s refreshing to see a strong female minority candidate, particularly in the South. Hell, it’s nice to see a female who’s not a blithering idiot Sarah Palin stepping up to the conservative plate.
What are your thoughts on Nikki Haley?