The ‘Pick a Moderate’ Canard

A narrative that I’ve been hearing for a while, most recently from my children, is the one that posits how much better the GOP would fare in presidential races if only it nominated “moderates.” Never mind that this hypothesis has already been tested numerous times—e.g., during the campaigns of such luminaries as the two Bush presidents, John McCain, Robert Dole, and Mitt Romney. Each time a putative moderate has received the Republican nomination and run for president, the media has pounced on that person with a vengeance, and before long these media targets are made to resemble the Grand Kleagle of the KKK or the deceased leader of the Third Reich.

This year I’m hearing the same praise of moderates so I decided to see how the national media are responding to two Republican presidential candidates who don’t even give the vaguest hint of being on the far Right and who don’t look noticeably white. These candidates are former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and current South Carolina Senator Tim Scott—both of whom play up their minority backgrounds while ostentatiously denouncing racism. 

At the 2020 Republican convention Haley went from describing herself as an almost generic South Carolina Evangelical Republican, albeit with a slightly dark complexion, to someone who grew up “as a brown girl” and whose Sikh father wore a turban. Haley claimed that she and her family had been the victims of cruel bigotry as residents of Camden, South Carolina. Despite these stereotypically nasty neighbors, Haley won the governor’s office in 2010 with lots and lots of Bubba votes but very few black ones. But by 2020 she was working to distinguish herself by liberalizing her image after having gotten considerable mileage out of the decisiveness with which she removed the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds in 2015. This followed the killing of nine black worshippers in Charleston at the hands of a crazed racist. These days Haley is combining her usual neoconservative foreign policy remarks with digs at Ron DeSantis for apparently picking a needless fight with Disneyland. Nikki has even urged the aggrieved woke corporation to relocate to South Carolina.

Equally moderate has been her fellow-South Carolinian and fellow-presidential candidate, Senator Scott, who according to Peggy Noonan and other admirers has “a wonderful personality” and a winning story. Scott’s story is about how his grandfather was a black South Carolina sharecropper, who was abused by Southern white racists. But his grandson rose to become a U.S. Senator in a transformed and far better America, indeed one that is working to become even more tolerant. Unlike our other black presidential candidate, Larry Elder, Scott does not dwell on the glaring imperfections of present-day woke America or worry, like Elder, about infectious anti-white racism. He is too busy telling us about how wonderful the country has become since the bad old days. Moreover, Scott’s proposals for “justice reform” would have the effect of restricting the use of what many policemen regard as necessary force. Scott’s negotiating partner in this project was the California Democrat Karen Bass, who has been vociferously critical of what she calls police brutality. 

The efforts of our two presidential candidates to appear “moderate” have nonetheless won them no bouquets from the MSM. A CNN news analyst, Bakari Sellers, has just teed off against Haley as a “white governor from the Deep South.” This supposed Nordic supremacist from the former Confederacy has treated blacks callously. In South Carolina “nine people died so that the Confederate flag could come down.” Although Haley might have taken that action as part of a career move, it is hard to see how the presence of the flag contributed to the murders. There is also no evidence that the lives of minorities have improved because the offending flag is gone. Kaitlan Collins, a CNN news anchor, felt obliged to correct her colleague by explaining that Haley is “the first woman of color who is running” for the Republican nomination. 

Scott also remains vulnerable to the leftist media as we saw last week on “The View.” No matter how much this senator condemns America’s racist past and praises antidiscrimination and police reform, he refuses to diss his country. Whoopie Goldberg, Joy Behar, and other geriatric wokesters piled on Scott for “just not getting systemic racism.” And oh yes, the media have also clobbered Scott as an intolerant Evangelical who may be just a cheerier version of Trump. 

While Mike Pence, another non-Trump moderate, would seem to please those who don’t like confrontational Republican candidates, he too has been blasted by the MSM. Pence’s admission that he wouldn’t dine with a woman unless his wife is present brought down the collective wrath of the liberal establishment. Both the Washington Post and People magazine depicted Mike as a religious fanatic who was denying women equal job opportunities by refusing to eat with them in the absence of his spouse. Pence’s sexism and Christian morality were predictably turned into a media scandal. Assuming Mike did dine with a woman to whom he was not married without his wife being present, one can only imagine how the media would have treated his “affair.” 

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About Paul Gottfried

Paul Edward Gottfried is the editor of Chronicles. An American paleoconservative philosopher, historian, and columnist, Gottfried is a former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, as well as a Guggenheim recipient.

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Notable Replies

  1. The Press is the Praetorian guard for the Democrats. Due to their influence most political contests are like a soccer match in which one side side starts with a two goal advantage. With Biden it was a three. In this regard we no longer have “free” elections, and now we have the cheat factor, making who we choose to run largely irrelevant. .

  2. I don’t like RINOs no matter what color they are.

    Trump and DeSantis have shown that a conservative can be elected in a landslide. The Biden race was a stolen election. For one thing, the Post Office finally, officially admitted what the truck driver said: the truck he drove from NY to Pennsylvania was full of mail-in ballots.

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