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Nikki … Paley??

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If you haven’t heard of her yet, Nikki Haley is the next in a series of Sarah Palin clones — that would be to say, very unremarkable and obscurant — who are making inroads this primary election season.

If you’ve heard one speech from someone in the Tea Party camp, you’ve heard them all, so here’s Haley speaking Wednesday in Columbia, S.C., following the Tuesday vote which placed her just 2 percentage points back from winning the primary outright against Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-Westminster). The two will enter a run-off on June 22 to decide the the Republican gubernatorial candidate for governor.

What is remarkable about Haley and for what I will be proud is my home state’s ability to A, elect its first female to the highest office in the state and B, to elect a non-white (Haley is Indian-American). The New York Times offers this piece on Haley, which at its start, offers this bit of lucid imagery:

Credit: AP

As she entered the top-floor suite of a downtown business club here on Tuesday, Nikki Haley passed an oil painting of nine former South Carolina governors. All were men, all were white, depicted seated along a long table like a political version of “The Last Supper.”

But — and there is almost always a “but” — Haley is riding the far right train to, not just win on the Republican ticket, but to attempt to trade or change the state’s overriding Republicanism to conservatism, whatever that might mean. And in South Carolina, a state whose elected officials routinely ignore the interests of their minority constituents (In nastier cases, hostile to them), Haley’s tired and boring “us versus the establishment” rhetoric can get votes every time.

So, while it will be historic, and possibly refreshing, to have a female governor in a state that has historically trampled on the rights of every race and gender — except white and affluent males — it will not be a surprise and not terribly, if at all, dissimilar to having Palin herself (One can catch glimpses of the Palin charm in Haley’s speech, minus the Alaskan vernacular. She must be practicing).

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