Of all the subjects covered in Governor Haley's response to the president's SOTU address, two items stands out loud and clear in the Washington Post's Kathleen Parker's opinion piece about it.
In Parker's words, Governor Haley: "[P]ulled no punches and brought the fight to her own party. Rather than exclusively critiquing Obama's presidency, as many expected, Haley turned her sights on the angry tenor of GOP politics and our dysfunctional government, for which she said Republicans are partly responsible. Nice and pretty-like."
Governor Haley confirmed that her remarks were directed at Donald Trump. And Parker is almost gushing with feminist pride and excitement at her broadside: 'Whoo-hoo. Sorry, but sometimes it takes a girl."
Pow! Wow! Let those angry men running for president have it!
Unfortunately, that part of the governor's speech was almost a textbook case of pseudo even-handedness — the kind that establishment-sanctioned conservatives use to demonstrate their moderation and reasonableness.
Governor Haley said:
We need to be honest with each other, and with ourselves: while Democrats in Washington bear much responsibility for the problems facing America today, they do not bear it alone. There is more than enough blame to go around. We as Republicans need to own that truth. We need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America's leadership. We need to accept that we've played a role in how and why our government is broken.
Phases like "enough blame to go around", "our contribution", "recognize our contributions to the erosion of public trust", "accept that we've played a role", and "We as Republicans need to own that truth," all in the space of four brief sentences seem to suggest a substantial equivalence that doesn't exist.
These are generic, vague, and seemingly anodyne phrases that still seem to lay a substantial amount of responsibility where it doesn't belong. Should Republicans have met the president half-way on his policies on health care, taxes, spending, EPA rules, the Iran nuclear deal, policy toward Israel, or his massive immigration bill? To simply list these items is to go a long way toward answering the questions.
As for Parker, Obama's frequently used straw men could take a lesson from her:
Haley's gentle cri de coeur neatly exposed the battle lines. On one side are those who deploy anger, bias, nativism and fear. On the other are those who want to reshape the GOP into a party that's based on ideals of inclusiveness and respect for others (like, maybe, a first-generation, Indian-American daughter of Sikh immigrants), exercises caution through reformed immigration policies without demonizing swaths of people, and recognizes that winning hearts and minds begins with civility and communication.
Yes, that must be right! "On one side are those who deploy anger, bias, nativism, and fear."
And on the other side are those like Parker, and others of her sensibilities like co-moderate David Books at the New York Times, who writes that Ted Cruz is "brutal" and not a good Christian", as well as being "satanic" and a "pagan".
They are the moderate, sensible, thoughtful, respectful conservatives who are always counseling others to show respect to those who are "different" and paradoxically model these traits by smearing those who disagree with them.