With the surprise announcement today by U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley that she is resigning from the post in which she has served for less than two years, speculation about what is next for the former South Carolina governor and apparent Trump favorite is already running rampant.
CNN is speculating that there are three possible reasons for her decision:
That she was edged out by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton;
That she needs to go into the private sector where she can make a boatload of money.
That she wants to run for president.
I propose CNN is missing the obvious.
These reasons may be valid and running for president may be her long game. But perhaps there is another more immediate and carefully orchestrated reason.
Perhaps Haley, shrewd as she is, believes Trump's golfing buddy and confidant, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), will be named to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions shortly after the Nov. 6 mid-term elections, leaving his Senate seat open.
As we all know, Graham has been sucking up to Trump -- especially since the death of his late friend Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who couldn't stand Trump. He has dropped broad hints about his availability to replace Sessions and has publicly stated that Trump deserves an attorney general he can trust.
So it will come at no surprise at all if (when) Trump ditches Sessions and names Graham to the post.
That, of course, would leave the South Carolina Senate seat open and Haley could be appointed to fill Graham's unexpired term by Gov. Henry McMaster. It was McMaster who was her lieutenant governor and shrewdly lobbied Trump to name her to the U.N. post so he could move into the governor's mansion.
Then, in 2020, Haley would be the incumbent senator running for re-election, and barring any unforeseen missteps would be a formidable opponent for Democrats who currently are feeling a sense of resurgence in deep red South Carolina.
This piece in The New Yorker offers some further insight, stressing that Haley is a politician and her decision should be considered in political terms. That's an understatement if ever there was one.
Asked about her future plans, Haley would only say she would be campaigning for President Trump's reelection in 2020.
Meanwhile, Graham chimed in by saying Haley has been "a clear, concise voice for American leadership, American values, and has been a true agent of reform when it came to the United Nations. I know all South Carolinians are proud of the service she rendered to our nation and the Trump Administration."
How nice of the senator to say such kind words about the politician who I am convinced is positioning herself to replace him just as soon as he's out of the way, most likely serving as attorney general.
Then Trump will have another reliable vote in the Senate -- unless Democrats can find a way to knock her off in 2020.