In the recent Republican debate, Vivek Ramaswamy opened with a salvo directed at one of the questioners, Kristen Welker, moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, who, he pointed out, was an NBC employee who had been pushing the Hillary Clinton Russia-collusion hoax in the 2016 election. Why was she asking questions of Republicans? She was not—obviously—a neutral, unbiased “reporter,” but a Democratic stalwart who had no qualms about pushing a fake narrative in the service of the Democrat party. Her job that night was to try to make the Republican candidates look and say something stupid. She is not without skills.
Ramaswamy’s attack was, arguably, the best opening of a presidential debate ever.
All the candidates should have been paying attention. Some may have been. One who appears not to have been was Nikki Haley.
In due course, the biased Welker, in the service of the Democrat party, set her trap: “Americans could see their Social Security benefits drastically cut in the next decade because the program is running out of money. Former President Trump has said, quote, ‘Under no circumstances should Republicans cut entitlements.’ Governor Christie, first to you, you have proposed raising the retirement age for younger Americans. What would that age be specifically and would you consider making any other reforms to Social Security?”
Christie took the question seriously—but that really didn’t matter since he has no chance of being the Republican nominee, and knows it. He is in the race solely to be a spoiler, to keep Trump out, an effort that has so far been remarkably unsuccessful.
Three of the other candidates, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, successful businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, and Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) who has just dropped out of the race, dodged the question. DeSantis said that because life expectancy is going down, now is no time to raise the age for qualifying for Social Security benefits. (Actually, it may be going down only because of drug overdoses and fentanyl deaths). Ramaswamy said (more or less) if we stopped fighting useless wars and went to zero budgeting, we’d have enough money to keep Social Security as it is. That probably isn’t true, but it sufficed for the night. Senator Scott said that some people—he was obvious thinking of his constituents in South Carolina—work their … toes off and shouldn’t have to wait additional years before collecting Social Security. He was playing to his constituents who do hard physical labor, but it had a sufficiently general ring to give the impression he’d answered the question.
Is what any of them said what they actually believe? Who knows?
But not Nikki Haley. She jumped in, eyes closed, clothes on—and will rue that moment. “So first of all, any candidate that tells you that they’re not going to take on entitlements, is not being serious. Social Security will go bankrupt in ten years, Medicare will go bankrupt in eight. Right now you have Ron and Trump joining Biden and Pelosi saying they’re not going to change or do any sort of entitlement reform. What we need to do is keep our promises. Those that have been promised should keep it. But for like my kids in their twenties, you go and you say we’re going to change the rules, you change the retirement age for them.”
Well, okay, factually. But debates are not only opportunities to spout facts (and show how bright you are). They are multifaceted contests to be won.
What’s the headline we’re likely to see if Haley gets the nomination? “Haley to Seniors: US Must Raise Social Security Age.”
(We pause to note that when, earlier in the debate, Ramaswamy mentioned that Haley’s daughter used TikTok, Haley appeared—and that’s the operative word—indignant: “Leave my daughter out …” she said. Her daughter is 25 years old! But it was Haley herself who had brought her children back into the debate when she said, “But for like my kids in their twenties, you go and you say we’re going to change the rules, you change the retirement age for them.”
Ramaswamy then said something, to which Nimarata Nikki Randhawa Haley replied, “You’re just scum.” She must be right: after all, Ramaswamy’s the child of people who immigrated from India. Scum indeed!)
But back to Social Security: There’s a reason, as Haley said, “[we] have Ron and Trump joining Biden and Pelosi saying they’re not going to change or do any sort of entitlement reform.” Biden and Pelosi have been in Congress since shortly after the wheel was invented, and they didn’t survive there that long by scaring the diapers off America’s seniors.
It’s true that President Ronald Reagan updated Social Security requirements, but not till 1983, long after he had gotten to the White House, and by then he had persuaded Democrat Tip O’Neill, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to go along with the deal.
That is not where we are now, as NBC’s Russia-collusion artist and hit-woman Kristen Welker—and three of the candidates—understood.
Poor Nikki Haley: she got snookered—but not really “poor Nikki.” If she doesn’t know how to deal with a left-wing, woke—and likely anti-Semitic—“news anchor,” how would she possibly be able to deal with Vladimir Putin or any of the many despicable despots in the Middle East?
America, and the free world, need a savvier leader than Nikki Haley.
Daniel Oliver is Chairman of the Board of the Education and Research Institute and a Director of Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. In addition to serving as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Reagan, he was Executive Editor and subsequently Chairman of the Board of William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review.
Email Daniel Oliver at Daniel.Oliver@TheCandidAmerican.com.