Nikki Haley’s Example

The Ambassador got along with Trump even when she disagreed.

 

Nikki Haley in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., Oct. 9.
Nikki Haley in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., Oct. 9. PHOTO: ZACH GIBSON/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Nikki Haley announced Tuesday that she’s stepping down as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations at the end of the year, and she did so with a warm public sendoff by President Trump in the Oval Office. This isn’t always the way appointees are ushered out in the Trump era, and it shows how skillfully the former South Carolina Governor navigated this Administration and its volatile foreign policy.

Unlike some officials, Ms. Haley didn’t present herself as someone who was reining in Mr. Trump like a chaperone. Yet she also spoke her mind even if it meant getting out ahead of the White House on some issues, such as Russia’s bad behavior. While Mr. Trump was asking why he and Vladimir Putin couldn’t get along, Ambassador Haley was publicly pointing out the reasons. She also assailed dictators who Mr. Trump said it was an “honor” to meet.

Ms. Haley bought herself this leeway in part with her unapologetic public defenses of U.S. policy changes that were disliked by U.N. elites. This included Mr. Trump’s decision last year to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. She told the body that she was “taking names” of allies that joined the denunciation of the U.S. She also won a tough Security Council resolution increasing sanctions against North Korea.

Ms. Haley said Tuesday she’s hoping to take “a break,” and Mr. Trump said he’d be glad to have her back. She emerges from her two years in office as a brighter star, and the experience might well tempt her to aim for higher political office—say, in 2024. Mr. Trump would be wise to name a replacement who is similarly forthright and shrewd.

Appeared in the October 10, 2018, print edition.

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