EDITORIAL: Rumor insults Haley and all women
President Donald Trump has not exactly distinguished himself through his choices for top Cabinet and administration positions. The reliance on older, white, male multimillionaires is bad enough. The promotion of clearly unqualified friends (anyone remember “The Mooch”?) is nothing less than an embarrassment.
All of which makes Nikki Haley’s selection — and performance — as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations a welcome exception.
She has proven a strong, consistent and level-headed voice at the UN and, while some of the policy decisions she champions are lamentable — the administration’s mob-like insistence that its friends and allies do its bidding or lose U.S. aid is heavy-handed and less than diplomatic — she has at least represented the nation admirably and avoided the ongoing scandals that have tarnished many in the administration.
Until last week, that is.
Among the incendiary allegations in Michael Wolff’s White House expose “Fire and Fury” is the suggestion that the president and the UN ambassador might have engaged in an affair.
The rumor, for which no shred of proof has been offered, is an affront not only to Haley but, as the ambassador herself made clear, to women everywhere who must endure similar whispering campaigns as the price of professional success.
“It goes to a bigger issue that we need to always be conscious of,” Haley told Politico in responding to the allegations, which she called “absolutely not true” and “disgusting.”
“At every point in my life, I've noticed that if you speak your mind and you're strong about it and you say what you believe, there is a small percentage of people that resent that. And the way they deal with it is to try and throw arrows — lies or not — to diminish you.”
Indeed, Haley, who was governor of South Carolina before joining the Trump administration, has endured similar suggestions during past gubernatorial races and in earlier statehouse campaigns. It’s a too-familiar slam against strong and successful women — usually by juvenile and jealous men — and it is among the many reasons that more women do not seek public office in numbers equal to their male counterparts.
Haley is mindful of those women, she says. It is with them in mind that she shot down the false allegations and, more importantly, will not let them deter her.
"Any time this has happened, it only makes me fight harder, it only makes me work harder,” she told Politico. “And I do it for the sake of other women that are behind me.”
Her resolve should come as no surprise to anyone who recalls her politically divisive 2015 decision to have the Confederate flag removed from the South Carolina statehouse grounds, where it had long flown.
And it sets a strong example to women in the cross-hairs of similarly baseless but base allegations.
The old “slept with the boss” narrative is yet another outdated mode of thinking; one that seeks to diminish the achievements of women by not only suggesting that they cannot succeed on their own but that they require the help of a man (“the boss”) to do so. Please!
It is unfortunate that in 2018, successful women must still contend with sexist suggestions and immature innuendo.
It is, on the other hand, fortunate that women such as Nikki Haley demonstrate exactly how to defuse and dismiss these types of ridiculous rumors.