MIND VIRUS: Poor Nikki | Steve Berman

There’s a mind virus at work that causes challengers to Donald Trump in the GOP to say the stupidest things. Nikki Haley was speaking in Berlin, New Hampshire and got the softball of all softball history questions, one any tenth-grader can easily answer.

In case you don’t know this, the cause of the Civil War was slavery. That’s not me saying this; it comes from a document called “The Declaration of Causes of Seceding States” and it’s right there at the top. Here’s Georgia’s:

The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery.

Can’t get much plainer than that.

But Nikki Haley couldn’t answer the question without going back to the Lost Cause myth, that the war had something to do with states’ rights or government intrusion. That kind of stuff might play well in certain parts of South Carolina, but not in northern New Hampshire. Haley was very much guilty of not reading the room. She also knows better, because as governor of South Carolina, Haley had the symbol of the Confederacy, the stars and bars rebel battle flag, removed from the state capitol.

Why would she make such an obvious and stupid gaffe?

I know why. She’s scared of offending voters who tell pollsters they are intending to vote for Donald Trump, the Donald Trump who invoked the “poison blood” argument against immigration. The Donald Trump who said he hadn’t read “Mein Kampf” but somehow arrived at many of the same conclusions as its author regarding blood and soil politics. These voters are the ones Haley is courting, and she is loath to drive them away.

So instead, Haley gave in to the mind virus and said something objectively stupid, that may end her bid for the White House in short order. The mind virus tells its host that it’s possible to court Trump voters who are invested in whatever their amour says, and at the same time not offend every other voter who is looking for a candidate–any candidate–to support. But that’s not really possible. The filter that allows a candidate not to mention slavery as a cause (the cause) of the Civil War does not allow contrition or apology for the gaffe.

Apologizing shows a sign of weakness and will not do for those who want strength in a candidate. But failing to correctly enunciate the cause of the Civil War as slavery shows a greater weakness: fear of Trump and his voters. We now see where Nikki Haley’s weakness lies. She has given in to the mind virus.

For this, there is no current cure. Poor Nikki.

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevengberman.

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