Ha­ley dis­plays per­fect po­lit­i­cal tim­ing

Boston Herald - - OPINION - By JONAH GOLD­BERG Jonah Gold­berg’s new book is “Sui­cide of the West.”

U.N. Am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley sur­prised vir­tu­ally ev­ery­body this week when she an­nounced she’d be re­sign­ing from her post at the end of the year.

In do­ing so, Ha­ley has man­aged some­thing unique. She leaves the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion with her rep­u­ta­tion not merely undi­min­ished but ac­tu­ally en­hanced. She’s pop­u­lar with both proand anti-Trump fac­tions on the right, and with shock­ingly high num­bers of in­de­pen­dents and Democrats. She has a long list of ac­com­plish­ments un­der her belt and no em­bar­rass­ments or scan­dals. She is al­most cer­tainly the most pop­u­lar politi­cian in Amer­ica.

OK, full dis­clo­sure: I’m bi­ased and con­flicted. I’m bi­ased be­cause I am a fan of Ha­ley. I’m also con­flicted be­cause my wife, Jes­sica Ga­vora, works for Ha­ley as her speech­writer and ad­viser.

While I’m at it, let me also say that one of my wife’s more ad­mirable (and an­noy­ing) traits is that she never tells me the cool stuff. For all I know, she’s got the 411 on what’s go­ing on at Area 51. So if there’s some secret scan­dal or de­vi­ous plan be­hind Ha­ley’s res­ig­na­tion, I don’t know what it is and nei­ther does Jes­sica --un­less she’s ly­ing to me.

What­ever Ha­ley’s think­ing is, one thing is ob­vi­ous: She has bet­ter po­lit­i­cal tim­ing than any­one else cur­rently in the busi­ness.

She’s not leav­ing un­til Jan­uary, but by an­nounc­ing it now, she can’t be seen as de­sert­ing ship if the midterms go badly.

There’s the old say­ing: “It’s bet­ter to be lucky than good.” Ha­ley is both.

Even so, it was a big risk for Ha­ley to take the U.N. job. She had lit­tle for­eign pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence to speak of, and the risk that she might be forced to ei­ther de­fend the in­de­fen­si­ble or re­sign in protest was high. Only in ret­ro­spect does it seem ob­vi­ous this was the best job in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion and that she was the best per­son for it.

First, the U.N. is the best arena in the world for pick­ing the right en­e­mies. Also, the U.N. am­bas­sador is out­side the snake pits of Washington while still at the cen­ter of the me­dia world. Ha­ley was also blessed to have a po­lit­i­cal nonen­tity, Rex Tiller­son, work­ing as sec­re­tary of state.

Be­cause it’s a for­eign pol­icy post, Ha­ley didn’t have to weigh in on ev­ery Trumpian con­tro­versy. But when she did — on the “Me Too” move­ment, Rus­sian med­dling, etc. — she did it in a way that dif­fer­en­ti­ated her­self from Trump and his syco­phants with­out seem­ing dis­loyal or mealy mouthed.

Ha­ley made it all look easy, in part be­cause she’s a good politi­cian — a daugh­ter of In­dian im­mi­grants in a state renowned for ugly pol­i­tics who man­aged to win two gov­er­nor’s races.

But she’s also will­ing to do some­thing too few politi­cians with charm and luck on their side bother to do: her home­work. Af­ter all, she started out as the fam­ily book­keeper at 13.

The tim­ing and man­ner of her de­ci­sion was near per­fect. Once again, she’s not only leav­ing on a high note, she’s leav­ing as the only prom­i­nent Repub­li­can around to­day who can si­mul­ta­ne­ously unite the party and also ap­peal to non-Repub­li­cans. (Which is why you can ex­pect the knives to come out soon.)

If Trump runs in 2020, it’s doubt­ful any­one could take the nom­i­na­tion from him. If he doesn’t run, the Repub­li­cans could be in des­per­ate need of a mi­nor­ity woman who’s ac­cept­able to a di­vided GOP and to vot­ers re­pulsed by Trump.

It’s all about tim­ing, and at 46, Ha­ley’s got all the time she needs.

EVAN VUCCI/AP

CHAT: U.N. Am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley meets with Pres­i­dent Trump in the Oval Of­fice this week.

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