It's Not the Disloyalty; It's the Absence of Shame
Nancy Mace's shivving of Nikki Haley was a particularly egregious display.
A week after the January 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, a Republican from South Carolina, took to the House floor and thanked God that she had sent her kids home from D.C. before that day’s violence erupted.
“Not only were our lives in danger, but if my kids were here their lives would have been in danger, too,” she added. “The two most precious people in my life… I believe we need to hold the President accountable. I hold him accountable for the events that transpired for the attack on our Capitol last Wednesday. I also believe that we need to hold accountable every single person, even Members of Congress, if they contributed to the violence that transpired here.”
In the interest of “healing the divisions in this country,” Mace decided not to join the ten House Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment. Nonetheless, her words of condemnation enraged the outgoing president.
Trump called Mace a “crazy” and “terrible” person, and a year later, he endorsed Mace’s Republican primary opponent in an effort to remove the congresswoman from office. MAGA-world (including fellow members of Congress) followed suit, tormenting Mace directly and online.
One notable political figure who stood by Mace during that time was former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Haley not only supported Mace’s candidacy (like she did two years earlier), but endorsed, campaigned for, and even cut an ad for the congresswoman.
Mace was very appreciative of Haley’s support, saying at a campaign stop:
“I also want to thank former South Carolina Governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. She is a rock star, and she’s been on the campaign trail with us the last couple of days. She’s become a good friend, a good mentor, she’s a great leader, she lives right here in the lowcountry, she’s been a great leader for the state of South Carolina, she’s been a great leader for our nation. And I have to tell you, the very last debate we ever had in this election, I was texting and calling and trying to get some advice, and I texted her. I didn’t realize she was on the other side of the world, 14 hours ahead of time, and she responded in five minutes… I wish that everybody could see our texts, to see that stream and just see how hard she works. She’s a great example for me, for my daughter, for everybody in the room today.”
It was glowing praise by any measure. A rock star. A good mentor. A great leader for South Carolina and the nation. A great example for everyone, including her daughter, whose safety Mace feared for in the build-up to January 6.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
Despite Trump’s efforts, Mace, thanks in large part to Haley, narrowly won her primary race. She was one of the few congressional Republicans nationwide who beat her Trump-backed challenger that year. Haley continued to campaign for Mace through the general election, which Mace won.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Haley, in going against Trump’s wishes, may well have saved Mace’s political career. And last May, Mace seemed to be making the case for a Haley presidency.
"I don't think either side wants to see two 80-year-old guys going at it,” the congresswoman said. “I'd love to see a woman on the ticket."
But Mace has since had… a change of heart. Last month, in the build-up to the South Carolina primary, she endorsed Donald Trump for president, saying, “Trump’s record in his first term should tell every American how vital it is he be returned to office.”
You read that right. It is now vital, according to the congresswoman, that the guy who put her life (and potentially her children’s lives) in danger must not only return to office, but do so at the expense of a woman Mace called a great governor, a great American leader, and a great example for her children — the same woman who made Mace’s congressional endorsement even possible.
There’s more. Mace now insists that Haley was actually quite bad for South Carolina, and — believe it or not — even has treasonous thoughts when it comes to the country.
“Nikki Haley is China’s favorite governor,” the congresswoman declared at a Trump event in her state last week. “And in fact, if she had her way, South Carolina would be manufacturing spy balloons right here in our state.”
Mace also said, “Governor Haley started out as an accountant. She went from doing people's taxes to raising people's taxes. The last time a tax-hiking presidential candidate walked around South Carolina in high heels it was Hillary Clinton - not sure how that turned out very well at all.”
As fact-checkers were quick to point out, Haley never raised taxes as governor. What Mace said was a fabrication. Trump, however, did raise taxes as president… most notably on Americans importing goods from overseas.
I’ve been commenting a bit on social media about Mace’s remarkable political conversion, and the responses I keep getting from MAGA folks (the kind of people who were joining Trump in trashing Mace not all that long ago) are that “it’s just politics” and “Why should people be loyal to Haley when she isn’t being loyal to Trump?”
The “disloyalty” they’re referring to is Haley’s decision to run against Trump, whose administration she served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, after previously saying she wouldn’t challenge him for the nomination.
To those people’s first point, yes… I understand that it’s political. Heck, everyone understands that it’s political. As a freshman congresswoman, Mace nearly ended her days-old political career by getting on Trump’s bad side, and she clearly doesn’t want to risk doing that again. She realizes that Trump is almost a shoe-in to win the Republican nomination, so she took the easy, politically opportunistic route of committing to him at a crucial time in the campaign. It wasn’t much different from when she embarrassingly groveled in front of Trump Tower, and pretended she wasn’t aware of the acts Trump has been criminally accused of.
Principled, honest positions don’t sell well in today’s Republican party. Being a Trump sycophant, however, does. So does regularly getting yourself on right-wing cable-news networks — invitations for which are quite elusive if you don’t spout the desired narratives and talking points.
As for the loyalty argument, I've stated many times (including just last month) that I don’t think any political candidate is entitled to another politician’s endorsement, even if that candidate endorsed that politician in the past. A political endorsement should be about the public office an individual is running for, not a personal relationship.
What I do think a personal relationship should earn, however, is some respect and common decency. This is especially true if one has benefited tremendously from that relationship, as Mace has with Haley. But Mace’s conduct toward her mentor has been shameless, vindictive, and inherently self-serving. She’s clearly not concerned with who would best serve her party and the country. What she’s concerned with is raising her own political stock, and maybe even getting on Trump’s short-list of VP picks.
If Mace truly believed that the man she said put her life in danger, was responsible for the January 6 insurrection, and who tried to get her fired for speaking truth to power…is a better choice than a “great leader for our nation” and a “great example” for herself, her daughter, and everyone else, she should at least respect voters enough to explain why. And she sure as hell shouldn’t be lying about Haley, and portraying her as a traitor.
I mean, my God. To do that to someone — especially someone who risked her own political aspirations to save yours — is truly reprehensible.
It should go without saying that it’s quite easy to endorse a candidate without spewing vile, unpatriotic nonsense about that candidate’s opponent, but Mace pulled out a shiv and absolutely went to town on her old friend.
Fortunately for Mace, that’s the kind of thing much of today’s Republican base loves. They don’t mind being disrespected, and they’re definitely okay with leaders displaying reprehensible behavior… as long as it comes from, or is in service to, Donald Trump and the MAGA-verse.
To her credit, Haley has taken the high road on her Republican beneficiaries, including Mace, who’ve endorsed and beclowned themselves for Trump. She may even feel a little empathy for them, being that she too has given up a slice of her personal dignity for the former president.
But unlike so many others, Haley hasn’t sold her soul and abandoned her decency for a hopelessly irredeemable cause like Donald Trump. If Mace had followed that example set by the former governor, she’d at least have her self-respect.