Full disclosure: I am not a Journey fan, even though they’re a legendary rock group. I have stopped believing, at least when it comes to arena rock.
I’m the kind of indie rock bore at parties who drones on about how Liz Phair’s later stuff is totally underrated and how Janelle Monaé is the new Prince and how Bob Mould’s work with Sugar is actually better than his stuff with Husker Dü and … hey, where are you going?
In short, I’m one of the few people at social gatherings with whom most people would prefer to talk politics with instead of music — and I’m a Trump-supporting conservative writer who hails from New York City. Just let that one marinate for a bit.
Suffice it to say that I have strong opinions about music. However, I wouldn’t dedicate too much thought to whether a public official I liked or disliked tweeted about taking the midnight train going anywhere. I wouldn’t even dedicate a tweet of my own to it, which is 280 characters. But 2,000 words about it? That would be insane.
Then again, I am not Politico’s Nahal Toosi, and I don’t have the kind of deadlines she has. However, if her rambling article about U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley tweeting about Journey — an article which runs the length of an average freshman midterm paper — is any indication, it might be time for her editors to stop believin’ in her ability to deliver the goods.
And if this was an assignment from an editor, heaven help us.
Journey is kind of a jumping off point for a very specious examination of State Department policies regarding making official statements on personal social media accounts. If Haley was doing so, that would be an issue. The problem is that you actually have to have, like, evidence that this is taking place.
Toosi does not.
Has Nikki Haley done a good job as ambassador to the United Nations?
“Ever since she took over as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley’s personal Twitter account has been an object of fascination for the diplomatic set,” Toosi writes. “On the @nikkihaley handle, the rising Republican star posts pictures of her dearest friends and showers love on her dog, Bentley. But she also denounces Russian actions in Syria and chides U.N. nations for voting against the United States.”
The “diplomatic set” that finds pictures of Haley’s labradoodle and denunciations of Russian actions in Syria an “object of fascination” remain mostly unmentioned. We then get into Journey territory:
— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) May 17, 2018
I literally despise Journey enough that while I can name the track order of every Smiths album including the rarities collections, I don’t actually know any Journey song that isn’t “Don’t Stop Believin’,” so the puns stop here. However, Toosi says that this is a problem because Haley also posts messages like this.
Unbelievable that Russia is stalling a vote on a ceasefire allowing humanitarian access in Syria. How many more people will die before the The Security Council agrees to take up this vote? Let’s do this tonight. The Syrian people can’t wait.
— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) February 23, 2018
There’s a carbon-fiber thin rationale for Toosi writing about Haley’s Journey love and/or posting political statements on her account, which has to do with the aforementioned State Department regulations.
Toosi says that “analysts and former U.S. officials say Haley’s Twitter account — which she has used for nearly a decade — is indicative of another problem: Some U.S. diplomats are flouting State Department rules barring the use of personal social media accounts to make official statements.
“Those rules were devised in part so that the State Department, and not any individual, reaps the long-term benefits of an enhanced social media following. That may seem quaint given that all U.S. diplomats report to a president who still uses his personal Twitter account,” Toosi adds. “But Donald Trump isn’t covered by the State Department rules. And social media is an important tool in public diplomacy, in which sites like Twitter and Facebook are part of a growing diplomatic virtual infrastructure that communicates U.S. views abroad.”
One of the biggest problems with this argument is there was little talk about enforcing this rule during the Obama administration. Here are some tweets from John Kerry’s personal account during his time at Foggy Bottom:
ISIL must be destroyed/will be crushed.
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) August 20, 2014
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— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) April 2, 2015
Of course, maybe it’s that Kerry just wasn’t a Journey fan. He was in his own (unspeakably horrible) band during his prep school days, though. While neither one of these statements — made from a personal account while Kerry was the Secretary of State — are exactly in violation of “State Department rules barring the use of personal social media accounts to make official statements,” neither are the examples that Toosi uses.
No parents should ever have to endure what Fred & Cindy Warmbier had to go through with the death of their son Otto by the NKorean regime.Their love and courage is inspiring.We will never forget Otto or the other Americans being held by the brutal NK regime. #NeverForgetOtto ❤️ pic.twitter.com/QcF5i51WhG
— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) January 31, 2018
Referencing tomorrow’s UN vote criticizing the US embassy move. In the words of the President, “Let them vote against us, we’ll save a lot.” pic.twitter.com/eUGWD4cCBR
— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) December 20, 2017
We along with 8 other members have called for an emergency Security Council mtg tomorrow in reference to the horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians in Syria. This is becoming all too common. Strong action is needed. pic.twitter.com/Vt3L5fjVla
— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) April 8, 2018
These are “official statements?” In what universe? These are opinions, plain and simple — which is what people post to Twitter accounts. Along with pictures of labradoodles, photos with prominent world leaders and, yes, even their questionable music taste. (Seriously, not even Dire Straits? “Romeo and Juliet” is a personal favorite, particularly given its relatively efficacious use in “Empire Records.”)
Toosi still tries to make the point stick: “State Department rules say that diplomats may link to or repost official content on a personal account so long as ‘it is clear … that the personal social media account is not being used to communicate on behalf of the department.’
“But a review of Haley’s account by POLITICO found numerous tweets that at a minimum test that rule. They range from admonitions of North Korea for mistreating an American prisoner to banal statements about her plans to speak at a conference,” she adds.
How on earth do these “at a minimum test that rule?” I’m assuming Toosi literally embedded the worst she could find and there’s absolutely no there there.
Haley is clearly speaking as a citizen with her own opinions here. There’s nothing in her tweets that would count as the kind of nanoscopic inside-baseball details that geopolitical analysis involves. None of these statements seem to have the stilted, carefully-worded prose that’s the universal hallmark of official State Department communique. None of this, in other words, “at a minimum test(s) that rule.”
The only thing that comes close is retweeting a picture of the statement on the chemical attack in Syria — which pretty much everyone in the Trump administration was doing. She didn’t make the remarks, and it was clear her contribution to this was very much off-the-cuff.
So, what does this 2,000-word examination of Haley’s Twitter account really seem to say? That she posts about too much frivolous stuff. Haley posts about her favorite music along with her opinions on Syria. What kind of fatuous political figure would deign to do something like that, it seems to say?
@Beyonce Thank you for the beautiful letter and for being a role model who kids everywhere can look up to. –mo
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) April 13, 2012
Does that answer your question, Ms. Toosi?
I suppose at a purely artistic level, Bey is probably better than Journey, although neither one is really my favorite. Funny thing, though — nobody wrote 2,000-word thinkpieces about how inappropriate Michelle’s girlmance with Beyoncé was, even though the singer’s cop-hating antics and artistic nods to the Black Panthers are probably slightly more controversial than some
That being said, Haley is a thousand times better than Michelle Obama, even if “Crazy in Love” is still a good album. Haley is the one who told the U.N. to go to hell after its meaningless Israel vote and let them know its grandstanding was probably going to cost it a lot of cash.
Haley’s the one who has stood up to Iran as the current administration tries to undo a disastrous “treaty” even Neville Chamberlain might have had qualms about. Haley is the one who has finally told the den of global iniquity on the East Side of Manhattan that America isn’t going to shrug these sorts of things anymore.
As far as I’m concerned, Haley can tweet about listening to “Who Let the Dogs Out?” or Kris Kross, or that legendarily-awful Happy Mondays album where Shaun Ryder was so high he forgot to record the vocals. And Toosi can write another 2,000-word piece about it under the guise of hand-wringing about State Department Twitter regulations.
But Haley will still be one of the most awesome people in all of Washington. Sounds like a fair arrangement to me.
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