|Nikki Haley, all by herself, as she gives the response.|
In what has to be one of the hardest political speeches to give, Nikki Haley was selected to give the response to the State of the Union last night. [Full text here] The President gets all the pomp and circumstance of being in the House of Representatives, and the whole thing is a huge production.
By contrast, the person being assigned the rebuttal is always alone in a room ('cause everyone else is at the State of the Union) and they have a cold camera to talk to. Talk about a tough act to follow. With that in mind, I thought Nikki Haley took that challenge and did a great job.
While hitting a lot of the standard points, she also denounced the people who make "noise" and the "siren song of the angriest voices":
“There’s an important lesson in this. In many parts of society today, whether in popular culture, academia, the media, or politics, there’s a tendency to falsely equate noise with results.
“Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.
Clearly, she was aiming her criticism at Trump and cautioning those who support him. I'm not sure that anyone who supports Trump will be swayed by this, because we've seen that Trump supporters are not really swayed by anything. It's a cult of personality with Trump and his supporters, and you can't reason someone out of a position that they didn't reason themselves into to start with.
However, for the rest of the people out there who are looking for conservative (or classically liberal) ideas, Haley provided a wonderful path. She spoke of balancing respect for "modern families" with "religious liberty", she spoke of respecting and welcoming immigrants, while stopping illegal immigration.
And she did it all with a wonderful tone that came from a place of hope and optimism - not from a place of anger and fear. I know this speech will be forgotten by the end of this week, but I hope that the tone and the ideas inspire some candidates to seriously evaluate how they are trying to communicate and what they are trying to do.