After one year in statewide office, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) decided to take advantage of her national notoriety by publishing a memoir, “Can’t Is Not An Option.”
This ordinarily wouldn’t be especially remarkable – though it might suggest Haley has national ambitions – were it not for the fact that all kinds of South Carolina officials, including Republicans, are insisting the book is filled with untruths.
Members of Haley’s own Republican Party – including the speaker of the S.C. House and a former lieutenant governor – say allegations against them are “absolutely not true” and “not true at all.” Democrats, including Haley’s 2010 opponent in the governor’s race, describe the book as “fiction.” […]
[A]dded a Democratic state representative, “This lady just makes stuff up.”
Some of the problems have less to do with dishonesty and more to do with hypocrisy. Haley argues, for example, that voters have a right to know about policymakers’ outside income, then says questions about her outside income are “a nuisance issue” and “character assassination.”
What’s more, it stands to reason that those cast in a negative light from Haley’s perspective would push back in the face of criticism. This doesn’t necessarily tell us whose version of events is the correct one.
But the list of contentious points is not short, and includes some meaningful disputes, including alleged conversations that Republican leaders insist never took place, and my personal favorite about a mysterious “high-five.”
Haley’s book claims, for example, that she saw two of her gubernatorial primary opponents, then-Rep. Gresham Barrett and then-Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, laughing together before a 2010 debate on the same day allegations were published about an extramarital affair involving Haley.
“As we waited for the questioning to start, I saw Bauer and Barrett talking to each other and laughing. Then, just as the lights came down and the cameras started to roll, I looked over and saw the two men high-five under the table. They actually high-fived!” Haley wrote.
How do two people high-five under a table? I haven’t the foggiest idea.
Regardless, whether one is inclined to accept the governor’s version of history as fact or not, it’s worth appreciating the fact that Haley’s book seems unlikely to help her career, at least in South Carolina. As Alex Pareene explained, “In attacking, often viciously, nearly everyone in the South Carolina legislative leadership in both parties and even her own lieutenant governor, Haley is not making it easy for herself to actually work with these people. Which suggests that maybe she has … grander ambitions than remaining governor of South Carolina.”