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A fresh face and rising GOP star

Nikki Haley, GOP candidate for governor of South Carolina.
Nikki Haley, GOP candidate for governor of South Carolina.
Washinton Post

A theme is definitely developing for the November midterm elections. The public has had it up to their eyeballs with business as usual.

It is going to be an anti-establishment year—incumbents need not apply. Voters are angry and casting ballots against everyone and anyone who has ties to Washington. In bygone days before political correctness put a damper on free expression the cry that’d echo loudly along local precinct corridors would’ve been, “Throw the bums out!”

President Obama’s leadership is under review by people who work for a living and have to balance their checkbooks. The administration’s well documented failures in the unfolding oil spill crisis are symptomatic of larger issues. This is a presidency in free-fall. Missteps, mistakes, and missed opportunities have put a taint on the administration that makes some wish for the glory days of Jimmy Carter’s Oval Office tenure.

All the questions regarding Barack Obama’s lack of executive experience that were raised during the campaign and rapidly dismissed by aides and their helpers in the mainstream press, are now settling in to roost. Eloquence and soaring rhetoric laced with images of hope may be pretty, but if one is incapable or unwilling to operate the levers of government to make it work, then it’s all empty words.

The oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico is actually a good metaphor for the red-ink seeping through our economy like an uncontrolled tidal wave. Deficits higher than any reasonable economist ever thought possible are swallowing the future, and the stark reality is that the debt tsunami hasn’t even crested yet.

Proposals for more deficit spending and a new influx of stimulus dollars are constantly being fashioned. States like Michigan, California, and New York are weighed down and fiscally stretched to the breaking point. The federal government will be leaned on hard to bail them out and prop up the crumbling framework of services, but the happenings in Greece are a harbinger of what is coming to our shores—a warning which someone in power ought to take seriously.

Democrats and Republicans are complicit in the mess—it’s Tweedledee and Tweedledum fiddling around and scoring idiotic and meaningless political points to stir their respective bases. The barbs are tinted with humor and make zippy sound-bites, but do nothing to narrow the gap between incompetence and effective governance.

Throw the bums out, indeed.

The most interesting storyline of this election cycle is being played out in South Carolina. The Republicans in the former Confederate state, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, nominated a tea party backed Indian-American woman to run for governor.

Nikki Haley, a state legislator supported by heavyweights Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney, slam dunked South Carolina’s old-boy network and backroom operatives by thrashing Representative Graham Barrett, a four-term congressman.

Following the victory, Haley said, “South Carolina just showed the rest of the country what we're made of—it's a new day in our state, and I am very blessed to be a part of it.” With her triumph in the run-off, she instantly becomes the front-runner against state Senator Vincent Sheheen, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee.

If she wins come November, Nikki Haley will be the first female governor in strictly conservative South Carolina—if that transpires, she will be heralded as a rising GOP star, and no doubt, given the fact that South Carolina is an early primary state in 2012, her name will get bandied about as a potential VP candidate.

At first blush, what’s not to like about Nikki Haley? She’s a sharp cookie, a fiscal conservative, and has a compelling personal story. A child of immigrants from Amritsar, a city in northwestern India, she was born in Bamberg, South Carolina. She attended Clemson University, and then worked in the family clothing business, growing it into a multi-million dollar company.

She is a fresh face, with a great deal of potential and promise—time will tell if she can avoid becoming a run of the mill bum politician.


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