Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Charlotte's Web Thoughts
The Ballad of Lucy & Charlie Brown
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The Ballad of Lucy & Charlie Brown

Nikki Haley and the press. YOINK and SPLAT.
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(image credit: Chip Somodevilla // Getty)

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Every American of a certain age and older knows this story well: in Peanuts, the all-time great comic strip by Charles M. Schulz, there’s a long-running gag in which Lucy van Pelt holds a football in place and invites friend and neighbor Charlie Brown to kick it.

And every single time, for five decades, Charlie Brown would earnestly run at the pigskin, sizing it up for a good, clean kick, and at the last possible moment, right before he makes contact—YOINK—Lucy would rip it away and Charlie Brown would swing his leg through a ghost and fall flat on his ass. There were somersaults. Shoes were lost. The sky would spin.

SPLAT.

As Charlie Brown lay there on the grass, forced yet again into a reexamination of his unyielding faith in the goodness of others, Lucy would stand over him, holding said ball, and offer a biting and witty observation.

It was hilarious. It was glorious. It was frustrating in the best way possible.

It became an annual tradition for the strip, appropriately marking a cultural beginning to autumn (or fall, if you will). Would this finally be the year that Lucy offers a respite of mercy and Charlie Brown kicks the damn ball?

It never came to pass. Charlie Brown never did make contact. Schulz, one of the few public figures in the past 50 years whose easy wholesomeness gave Mister Rogers a run for his money, was consistently cruel on this particular matter.

Say what you will about the eternal naïveté of Charlie Brown, but you can’t fault his intention. His sole motivation was kicking the ball, and his sole fault was earnestly trusting Lucy.

Last week, former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley announced during an interview that she would be supporting Donald Trump in the election, despite her many statements to the press condemning Trump’s leadership and character.

Like last June, when she said that Trump had been “incredibly reckless with national security” after the Justice Department announced its initial 37 charges against him in the ongoing classified documents case.

Yes, you read that right: Haley is now endorsing a man she deemed “incredibly reckless” with national security. As of this writing, no political reporters have asked her about this incongruence.

YOINK. SPLAT.

Then there was the interview on CNBC the following month in which she said this about Trump: “We can’t have, as Republicans, him as the nominee. He can’t win a general election. That’s the problem. We’ve got to go and have someone who can actually win.”

She has not been asked about this by political reporters since her endorsement of Trump.

YOINK. SPLAT.

Or how about when Haley appeared on “Face the Nation” back in September and asserted to host Margaret Brennan that Americans would not “vote for a convicted criminal” when asked if she’d vote for Trump if he were the nominee and convicted in any of his four pending indictments.

As Trump’s hush money trial enters final arguments today—and it looks more than likely he’ll be convicted—as of this writing, no political reporters have asked her about this statement, one which was offered on one of the most well-known news programs in the country.

YOINK. SPLAT.

What about in January, when Haley was asked about Trump’s various legal battles with E. Jean Carroll, whom he raped and defamed and was found liable for said defamation by two separate predominantly-male juries? Haley claimed she hadn’t looked at the details of the then-pending trial, but that if Trump were found guilty, “he should pay the price.”

She has not been asked about this statement by any political reporters since her endorsement of Trump.

YOINK. SPLAT.

(By the way, imagine taking it in good faith that Haley hasn’t “looked into the details” of a nationally publicized trial in which the leader of her party is accused of defamation toward the woman he raped.)

In February, Trump, during a rally, mocked the absence of Haley’s husband on the campaign trail, who was then serving an overseas deployment with the South Carolina National Guard.

Haley responded to Trump, in part: “Michael is deployed serving our country, something you know nothing about. Someone who continually disrespects the sacrifices of military families has no business being commander in chief.”

Then, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Haley said that Trump being the Republican presidential nominee is “like suicide for our country.”

She has not been asked about either of these statements by any political reporters since her endorsement of Trump.

YOINK. YOINK. SPLAT. SPLAT.

Just three months ago, Haley followed that up with an NBC News interview in which she called Trump “unhinged” and “diminished.”

Have any political reporters asked her about this since her endorsement? They have not.

YOINK. SPLAT.

Remember Haley’s tenure as Trump’s U.N. Ambassador? She was often referred to as a “voice of moderation” within the administration, though political reporters were never quite able to explain exactly how she was moderate.

Her time as U.N. Ambassador was notable for: supporting the move of U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, backing up Trump’s withholding foreign aid from innocent Palestinian civilians, supporting Trump’s withdrawal of the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, defending Trump’s withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, withdrawing the U.S from the United Nations Human Rights Council herself, and flagrantly violating the Hatch Act just months into her tenure, for which she was firmly chastised by the Office of Special Counsel.

Do any of these sound like moderate positions? They don’t meet the low threshold of having a moderating influence, much less being moderate.

You guessed it: she has rarely been asked about any of these conflicting details by political reporters in the past several years and certainly not since her endorsement of Trump.

YOINK and SPLAT.

Folks, this is the nutshell version. There are examples of this stretching back into her early career: as a state representative in South Carolina and then governor, she constantly staked a position and then reneged on it in a cynical manner when the political winds starting blowing in an inconvenient direction.

It’s nothing new for Haley. This is who she’s always been — always hedging her bets, always speaking out both sides of her mouth, always pretending to have red lines and then later pretending those red lines never existed, acting almost shocked if a reporter even asks about them.

Political reporters have given Haley pass after pass after pass all these years. She lies and misleads and obfuscates and flip-flops, and still, they do it.

It’s why I predicted all throughout Nikki Haley’s supposed campaign for president that she would eventually endorse Trump, despite what political press told us, despite their inexplicable and immediate embrace of her messaging, ignoring her entire history of lying and cynical tactics.

Why? Because she’s nice to them at cocktail parties, and they need access from a Republican with her influence. Lucy and Charlie Brown. Every time. Without fail.

Fairly soon, Nikki Haley will be on Sunday news shows and she'll be lightly challenged on her endorsement for Trump and she'll demur and give weak-ass, equivocating responses as she always has and the hosts may push back a little and they may even bring up her past statements, though I doubt it, and she'll demur again and they'll thank her for coming on.

YOINK. SPLAT.

The last football “kicking” strip was published October 24th, 1999, a few months before Schulz’ death from a heart attack in his sleep while undergoing cancer treatment.

Lucy is sitting there and inviting Charlie Brown to kick it, as always, when Rerun, her brother, comes out and tells Lucy that their mother is demanding she come eat lunch. Lucy mutters “good grief” and invites Rerun to take her place holding the ball. Charlie Brown is more optimistic than ever that this is his moment. Finally.

But we never see what happens immediately after that. In the following panels, Rerun returns home and Lucy asks him for details, and Rerun replies: “You’ll never know…”

Maybe we never will.

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Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Charlotte Clymer is a writer and LGBTQ advocate. You've probably seen her on Twitter (@cmclymer). This is the podcast version of her blog "Charlotte's Web Thoughts", which you can subscribe to here: charlotteclymer.substack.com