On Wednesday morning, Donald Trump made an incredibly smart move: he tapped South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley for United Nations Ambassador. Haley doesn’t have a record of foreign policy experience, but she does have a strongly hawkish worldview, and she was the first governor in America to sign legislation barring the state from working with contractors boycotting Israel.
But there are other reasons the Haley pick is a brilliant one.
1. It Gets Rid Of A Potential Rival. Trump is systematically reaching out to all of the potential 2020 primary challengers he can find. Haley was one of them. She reluctantly backed Trump at the end of the general election cycle, but she was a vocal critic throughout the election cycle. If Trump does a bad job, Haley could have run against him. No more. Now he’s successfully co-opted her.
2. It Answers Charges Of Racism. Trump has been wrongly labeled a racist and rightly linked with the alt-right through White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. Appointing Haley, a woman of Indian descent, helps answer those questions – or at least provides a convenient answer when critics charge that he’s only interested in appointing white men. This is probably the reason Trump is also considering Dr. Ben Carson for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, a position for which Carson is wildly unqualified.
3. It Elevates Trump Allies. The lieutenant governor of South Carolina is Henry McMaster. McMaster was a hard-core Trumpster throughout the campaign. He gave an enthusiastic speech for Trump at the Republican National Convention; McMaster endorsed Trump in the primaries, in late January. “Now is the time for Donald Trump,” McMaster said at the time. Guess who the new governor of South Carolina will be now that Haley is moving out?
4. It Makes Trump Look Broadminded. Critics have been worried that Trump will stack his cabinet with those who agree with him, failing to take into account opposing viewpoints. Haley certainly doesn’t agree with Trump on everything. Between the Haley appointment and the possible appointment of Mitt Romney as Secretary of State, Trump could go a long way toward healing divisions within the Republican Party, as well as quelling fears of living in a Trumpian bubble.
This is the first move by the Trump transition team that feels truly strategic – and it puts a good person in a position of power to boot. Let’s hope that Trump keeps it going.