During a New Hampshire town hall meeting yesterday, Republican presidential contender Nikki Haley was asked about the fundamental cause of the Civil War. Right away she paused and turned and smiled nervously and indicated this was a tough question. In other words an alarm bell was going off in her head. Haley clearly decided right away that she didn’t want to offend any hard-right, states-rights bumblefucks in overalls with pieces of hay between their teeth, and so she omitted mentioning the world “slavery.”

Instead she blathered on and tap-danced like Fred Astaire, saying that the war was about “how the government was gonna run…the freedoms of what people could and couldn’t do“. Haley’s mention of “freedoms” couldn’t be interpreted as anything but an allusion to the mid-19th Century belief in the right to own slaves. Her questioner (possibly a Democratic party plant?) expressed surprise that she’d dodged the word “slavery” in her response, and Haley responded, “What do you want me to say about slavery?”

Today Haley tried to walk this awkard episode back by telling a New Hampshire interviewer, “Of course the Civil War was about slavery.”

But think about this. Before she answered yesterday Haley had calculated that saying the War Between the States was triggered by slavery — i.e., the alleged right of Southern plantation owners to own slaves and thereby save on labor costs — a boilerplate analysis that any third-grader would sagely agree with…Haley was actually afraid of angering any hard-right yokels who might still theoretically believe in the concept of slavery as a metaphor for states rights…imagine!