Nikki Haley Dodges Slavery As The Cause Of The Civil War

INSIDE: Lauren Boebert ... Jack Smith ... Tom Smothers
ALTOONA, IOWA - DECEMBER 17: Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks to guests during a campaign stop at the Fireside Grille on December 17, 2023 in Altoona, Iowa. Iowa Republicans... ALTOONA, IOWA - DECEMBER 17: Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks to guests during a campaign stop at the Fireside Grille on December 17, 2023 in Altoona, Iowa. Iowa Republicans will be the first to select their party's nomination for the 2024 presidential race when they go to caucus on January 15, 2024. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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We’re Still Doing This In 2023?

Nikki Haley — a former governor of South Carolina, the first state to secede in 1860, who removed the Confederate flag from the state Capitol — couldn’t bring herself to mention slavery when asked at a campaign event about the cause of the Civil War.

The remarks Wednesday evening while campaigning in New Hampshire, which did not secede from the union, were a tacit acknowledgment that the party of Lincoln has settled comfortably into its status as a revanchist minority-white rump Trumpist party.

When the audience member asked the question, Haley raised her eyebrows, spun around and retreated upstage before turning back around and facing the audience with a smile: “Well don’t come with an easy question. I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how government was going to run. The freedoms and what people could and couldn’t do. What do you think the cause of the Civil War was?”

After a bit of back and forth, Haley engaged in some additional nonsensical meandering that was non-responsive to the question.

When the questioner expressed surprise that she had not mentioned slavery, Haley asked: “What do you want me to say about slavery?” 

“No, you’ve answered my question, thank you,” the questioner responded.

After the 2015 massacre of nine black churchgoers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, in whose harbor the first shots of the Civil War were fired, then- Gov. Haley responded to growing public pressure by reversing course and signing a bill to remove the Confederate flag from the state Capitol in Columbia, bringing an end to a long-running controversy over the placement of the flag.

Amusing … Or No?

News accounts of Nikki Haley’s remarks awkwardly shoehorned in the basic fact-check that, yes, the Civil War was fought over slavery:

  • Politico: “While there were a number of contributions to the outbreak of the Civil War, the conflict, which was the deadliest in U.S. history, was fought predominantly over the South’s desire to see the preservation of slavery.”
  • WaPo: “Haley’s answer did not include any mention of slavery, which scholars agree was the main driver of the conflict.”
  • ABC News: “While several political and economic factors ultimately contributed to the start of the American Civil War, slavery was at the center of the nation’s tension.”

The NYT provided admirable context for the remarks in its writeup, but perhaps inadvertently telegraphed how bedeviled by racism we remain, calling the question “simple yet loaded.”

Almost 160 years after the end of the Civil War, asking a presidential candidate to affirm its root cause remains a “loaded” question.

Biden Gets The Last Word

Lauren Boebert Flees Her Own District

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), facing long odds of reelection in her home district, announced Wednesday evening via Facebook video that she will instead run for the open seat being vacated by Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO).

Colorado GOP Brings Trump DQ Case To SCOTUS

The Colorado Republican Party was first out of the gate in bringing the Trump Disqualification Clause case to the Supreme Court. Trump, too, is expected to ask the Supreme Court soon to consider taking the case and overruling the Colorado Supreme Court decision declaring him ineligible for the presidency.

An important early indicator will be how the Supreme Court frames the issues if it accepts the case. Here’s how the Colorado GOP wants the court to frame it:

  1. Whether the President falls within the list of officials subject to the disqualification provision of Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment?
  2. Whether Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment is self-executing to the extent of allowing states to remove candidates from the ballot in the absence of any Congressional action authorizing such process?
  3. Whether the denial to a political party of its ability to choose the candidate of its choice in a presidential primary and general election violates that party’s First Amendment Right of Association?

Jack Smith Is Probs Overdoing It Here

Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigations and prosecutions of Donald Trump have been mostly sober and stunt-free, except for this one little game he’s playing in the Jan. 6 case in DC: continuing to file motions and act as if the case is still active even though it’s been stayed while Trump appeals his outlandish claims of presidential immunity. It does sound a discordant note even if the the signal he’s trying to send about being ready for a March trial and the importance of keeping the case on track is itself legit.

Joyce Vance unpacks the latest motion from Smith.

Working The Refs Ahead Of The 2024 Election

TPM’s Kate Riga on Republicans’ current two-pronged attack on the Voting Rights Act.

House Ethics Committee Opens New Probe

Not many details available but the House Ethics Committee has opened a probe into whether Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL) has violated campaign finance laws.

Important Case

In what may end up being a landmark case on artificial intelligence and copyright laws, the New York Times has sued Microsoft and OpenAI in federal court in Manhattan claiming they are unlawfully using NYT stories to train chatbots.

Herb Kohl, 1935-2023

The former Democratic senator from Wisconsin who founded the eponymous department store chain and was the majority owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, has died at age 88.

RIP Tom Smothers

Tom, of Smothers Brothers fame, has died at age 86:

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