Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Haley Barbour: open mouth, insert foot

Haley Barbour more than likely ended any chance, real or perceived, of his winning the GOP Presidential nomination. This past weekend top Republican 2012 hopefuls gathered in New Orleans for the Southern Leadership Conference. Such visionaries as Palin, Romney and Huckabee were in attendance. Haley, in an interview with CNN while in New Orleans, came to defense of embattled Virgina governor Bob McDonnell. McDonnell is the governor who declared April Confederate History Month with no mention of slavery. He was forced to apologize the next day, so you think Haley would have had a good idea of the fallout nationally his statement was going to make.

See Barbour on CNN.

Eugene Robinson lays Barbour to waste in the Washington Post.

What "doesn't amount to diddly" is the revisionist notion -- which Confederate History Month celebrations perpetuate -- that the Civil War was about something other than slavery. The "lost cause" diehards insist that the treasonous rebellion was a fight over freedom or the Constitution or states' rights. But the "right" that was being fought over was the ability to own human beings, compel their labor, buy and sell them as if they were livestock, exploit them sexually and torture or kill them if they tried to escape.

McDonnell's apology, at least, recognized that slavery was nothing to be proud of. It should be noted, however, that Virginia's previous two governors -- both Democrats -- did not feel the need to proclaim Confederate History Month. McDonnell's original proclamation, before he amended it, seemed designed to appeal to a fringe group for whom the Civil War is still an open question.

This is a free country -- for black people, too, thanks to the defeat of the Confederacy -- and so if some white Southerners want to celebrate the "heritage" of slavery, they are welcome to do so. But while they're entitled to their own set of opinions, they're not entitled to their own set of facts. I'd say that Haley Barbour's studied ignorance was "a bad thing," but that would be a gross understatement.


  1. Uh, game, set, match...
    He should realize that type of talk is gonna sink him in the national arena.

  2. I hate to be such a hard-boiled cynic, but in an era where Sarah Palin is as ubiquitous as Kleenex, I'm not sure he went far awry.

    I'd have thought posing for the CofCC's photo-op (which then landed on the front page of their website, without a squeak of protest from him) would have sunk him, even in this state, but it appears to have helped instead of harmed him.

    I haven't given this latest instance of Barbour exposing his thinly veiled racism that much attention, as unsurprising as it is.

    I don't think he has a chance at Prez anyway, and I doubt that he believes it either. Whistling for the racist dogs is something he has done for a purpose, whatever that may be. A person who has some currency with the Tea Party folks without being too rabid or too vacuous could be an attractive addition to a ticket with wider, more moderate appeal. Haley has always been a mainstream Republican, but he plays to his "fat redneck with an accent" side when it profits him.

    RUNNING for President (or flirting with running) can get you a lot of other places than the Presidency. Haley is, if nothing else, a shrewd politician, and he doesn't do something like this without a purpose, whatever it is.

  3. Um, let me get my Chinese to English translator out.....WTF??