Why Nikki Haley Is the Most Interesting Part of Trump’s Iowa Win
Donald Trump’s landslide victory in Monday night’s Iowa caucus is a repudiation of the idea that his mountain of legal woes would block his path to the nomination — wishful thinking often indulged in Washington (I witnessed this firsthand).
As The New York Times put it, “Voters Look Past Legal Problems to Give Trump a Big Victory.”
Anyone possessed of object permanence could infer from the past few years that Teflon Don is immune to the normal political costs of scandal, but apparently this is a lesson that many in Washington still have not absorbed.
Another misconception is that Nikki Haley performed well, having only narrowly lost to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the thinking goes. But DeSantis had been subjected to far more scrutiny than Haley, the stately former U.N. ambassador and obvious Washington favorite among the Republicans. While Haley won fawning praise for her allegedly kinder, gentler approach to abortion (try squaring that with her vow to have signed a six-week abortion ban were she still governor of South Carolina), DeSantis faced a media gauntlet (including me!) scrutinizing his every comically strained attempt to seem human. Remember the grotesquely crooked smile after his canned debate remarks, the closest real-life approximation of the woozy face emoji I have ever seen (🥴) ? And the forced laugh so boisterous it looked like his jaw unhinged like a snake’s? And then there were the Trump nicknames: Ron DeSanctimonious, Little D, Meatball Ron, DeSanctus.
DeSantis, in his blundering efforts to simulate Donald Trump — by triggering the libs and trolling the media, though in far more inept and bizarre ways — violated the rules of Washington respectability, inviting their ire. But Haley never did, and for this reason, her loss to DeSantis is all the more incredible. It also says something about the current mood of the electorate: in the battle between the norms humpers and the class clowns, the class clowns have the upper hand. And that is very good news for Donald Trump.
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