President-elect Donald Trump appears to have a gameplan as far as his cabinet/White House staff appointments are concerned. Looking at it now, he seems to be going for a “you get one, I get one” process. You guys get Reince Priebus, I get Steve Bannon. You guys get Mike Pompeo, I get Jeff Sessions. Maybe it just looks that way; maybe he actually wants a balance between establishment folks and people who want to overturn the apple cart.
Trump’s latest appointment is sure to thrill establishment Republicans, in any case. He’s reportedly nominating South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to be his U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Haley has been bandied about as a rising conservative star; she enjoyed national headlines after banishing the Confederate flag in the wake of the Charleston massacre. She also gave the GOP rebuttal to the State of the Union address in January, where she spent as much time taking thinly-veiled shots at Trump as she did responding to Obama.
Haley practically epitomizes the exact sort of Republican the electorate rejected in this year’s primaries, although, to her credit, she seems to understand this. In a speech this week, she reminded Republicans that Trump ran AGAINST them, not with them.
It’s useless to try and figure out what Trump is doing here. Maybe he’s just appeasing the establishment. Maybe he really likes Haley and thinks she would be a great fit. Maybe he’s trying to neutralize his biggest would-be Republican critics by putting them in his administration. Every move he makes is going to be scrutinized to death and 99% of the analysis is going to be wrong.
At this point, we should just give him room to maneuver. He’s not even the president yet.
In regards to this particular appointment, it’s hard to see anything wrong with it. The UN ambassador is not exactly the kind of cabinet position that shapes the course of a president’s administration. How many people even know who our current ambassador is without looking it up? If this is a concession to the establishment or a light attempt at some good identity politics coverage, it’s a small sacrifice to make.