The last couple of days have been busy, too busy for me to report adequately on Nikki Haley’s appearance before the Columbia Rotary Club Monday.
Of course, there’s not much to report. She basically gave the same speech I’ve heard all year — the same one I heard at that Sarah Palin rally, which frankly I see as the moment Nikki peaked. She was at the height of her powers. She was that creature I’ve recognized so often — one who knows he or she is on the ascendance. It was that evening that I knew she was going to win the primary.
What’s remarkable is that now she’s still giving the same speech. For instance, she still has the gall to tout her experience and ability as an accountant — even though now (as opposed to when she started giving this speech) we know that pretty much every opportunity she’s had to apply these skills, in her personal finances and her family’s business, she’s left a mess behind, littered with broken deadlines and fines that had to be paid. Have you ever had to pay a fine for failure to pay taxes on time? And do you go around boasting about how you’re a great accountant? Well, she still does, and she demonstrably is not.
But that doesn’t seem to bother her.
My friend Mike Fitts, who writes for Columbia Regional Business Report, asked to come to Rotary as my guest, so I invited him. I gather Mike has had a bit of trouble getting Nikki’s attention. But when I asked him that, he said no, he had been allowed 20 minutes with her — in August.
Mike managed to dredge a story out of the speech, but it’s not the strongest of news angles. An excerpt:
Haley says family financial struggles led to tax issuesBy Mike Fittsmfitts@scbiznews.comPublished Oct. 19, 2010Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley said her family “was struggling” financially when they failed to pay or file their income taxes on time.Haley took a question about the tax issues during her Monday visit to the downtown Columbia Rotary Club. According to published reports, Haley was late paying her taxes for the years 2004 to 2006, accruing more than $4,000 in late payment penalties. The family did see its reported income cut in half between 2005 and 2006, dropping to just more than $40,000.Haley said she and her husband had lost some income at the time and were shutting down a business. The economic aftermath of the 9/11 attacks had dented their retail business, as it had many others.“We know what it’s like to struggle,” Haley said.While the Internal Revenue Service does allow extensions for paperwork, it expects taxpayers to make an accurate assessment of the likely tax bill and to pay on time.The question came from a Rotarian who described himself as a supporter, saying he wanted to give the Lexington Republican a chance to clear up the issue….
Maybe that was the best, newest angle to come out of the session; I don’t know. But I remember that when I heard her say it, I thought, “Duh!” I mean, we kinda assumed that she was having financial difficulties. Not paying your taxes is a financial difficulty in itself.
The issue, of course, is how you deal with difficulties. And since she obviously dealt with hers in less than a stellar manner — especially for such an ace accountant — the question remains how she squares this with her touted skills. At two points in her performance Monday, she said the following:
If you’re in business, you know: The best decisions are when you go through the hardest times. There’s an opportunity there, because it will force us to prioritize…
What I’d like to know is how she squares that with how poorly she handled tough times. I know a thing or two about tough times, about seeing your source of income kicked out from under you and wondering how you’re going to get the mortgage paid. But I also know that one thing you want to avoid is getting in a situation in which you have to pay a fine on top of the taxes you owe. I’m no accountant, but I can figure that out.
And you definitely don’t do it if you’re going to have the nerve to ask voters to elect you to handle their money.