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Posted at 8:30 AM ET, 12/22/2010

Haley Barbour's written statement isn't going to cut it

By Jennifer Rubin

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour issued this statement in an effort to quell the firestorm over his comments in the Weekly Standard:

When asked why my hometown in Mississippi did not suffer the same racial violence when I was a young man that accompanied other towns' integration efforts, I accurately said the community leadership wouldn't tolerate it and helped prevent violence there. My point was my town rejected the Ku Klux Klan, but nobody should construe that to mean I think the town leadership were saints, either. Their vehicle, called the 'Citizens Council,' is totally indefensible, as is segregation. It was a difficult and painful era for Mississippi, the rest of the country, and especially African Americans who were persecuted in that time."


Is this sufficient to revive Barbour's chances as a presidential candidate in 2012? Oh, puleez. Those who believe, with a fair amount of justification, that he simply doesn't get it on matters of race are hardly going to be mollified by a written statement after more than 24 hours of horrid press coverage.

In the next interview he gives, and in many after that, he will be grilled on this and his other questionable comments. And what GOP staffers would want to join a campaign in which days, if not weeks, will be filled fielding questions on this issue? What donors, prominent men and women in their communities, want to take on the burden of defending all this and trying to pry donations out of friends and colleagues? It will be a very crowded field of candidates, so it's hard to imagine that Republicans, who are desperate to win back the White House, would say, "Well, there just isn't anybody but the guy with the trail of racially insensitive comments!"

In short, Republican voters, activists, staffers and donors will have many choices in 2012. It's hard to conceive of a situation in which they would prefer Barbour, as solid a governor as he has been, over every other candidate, each of whom will have flaws that seem minor in comparison.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 22, 2010; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  2012 campaign  
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Jennifer, please don't go all Dave Weigel on Post readers. In the last election, Americans (mostly Democrats) were happy to vote for a man who spent 20 years sitting in the pews of a church run by a virulent Jew-hater and (white-hating) racist. Democrats just looked the other way when Obama patently lied and said that he didn't have any idea that Jeremiah Wright spewed hatred every week. So, your opinion that Haley Barbour is washed up doesn't, well, wash. Of course, the liberal media will play it up, but those of us who think that Barbour would make an excellent presidential nominee, especially based on how well he responded to Katrina, won't be listening and won't be convinced. Please stop seeing everything through the prism of the MSM. There's not a scintilla of evidence that Haley Barbour is a racist. Not a scintilla.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | December 22, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

WashingtonDame makes an excellent point: "...happy to vote for a man who spent 20 years sitting in the pews of a church run by a virulent Jew-hater and (white-hating) racist. Democrats just looked the other way when Obama patently lied and said that he didn't have any idea that Jeremiah Wright spewed hatred every week...."

The vitriol expressed against Governor Barbour just in J-Ru's previous post indicates the real bias in America is against fat people (remember those anti-Chris Christie ads?), especially if they are from Mississippi, and proud of it.

I grew up in segregated Miami, but stayed up North since college (1969-present).
Believe me, the secret racism of Yankees AND the blatant reverse racism of those who stubbornly refuse to let their grievance go is far more damaging than the legacy of post-Civil War Mississippi.

Too quick to condemn anyone and everyone for what happened 40+ years ago...this over-reaction to Barbour's adolescent memories is pathetic.

Maybe Governor Barbour should make a speech putting the legacy of civil rights into modern perspective.

Worked for Obama - and all we got is MORE racism victimology.

Next up for demonization? Rick Perry. My guess is Perry's hair will be under scrutiny.

Then on to John Thune - someone will surely find a "Viking as terrorist" mem for Thune :)

Posted by: K2K2 | December 22, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Haley Barbour was, is, and will likely remain a racist troll who needs to take a good, hard look in the mirror. His written statement is that of an immature child who does not want to 'own up' to misbehavior. He shows no evidence of contrition, let alone learning from his attitudes and behavior that have become exposed to the public. I do not see him as a 'demon' - unfortunately, the Haley Barbours of his world are altogether too common and too freely tolerated. Mr. Barbour, it is never too late to acknowledge the error of your ways and sincerely ask for forgiveness from those you have harmed. Otherwise, they will neither forgive nor forget, and you will deserve whatever political punishment the polity dishes out.

Posted by: bloommarko4 | December 22, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

The people who would otherwise vote/support Haley don't care.
The ones who are offended by this endorsement of the Citizens Councils wouldn't vote for him anyway.

Thanks for the link to the Weekly Standard article. I for one wouldn't vote for anyone who was a tobacco co. lobbyist. Nor would I vote for someone who sent his kids to a segregation academy.

Finally, Haley's slap in the article about only southerners knowing about their ancestry is more of a class than regional issue. I am a yankee. I was just looking at a picture of the grave of my 16th great grandfather on the internet. The small graveyard on Harvard Square is filled with my ancestors and other relations. I would bet that most of the residents of Yazoo City, especially the African American ones, haven't a clue where their distant relatives are buried.

Posted by: Afraid4USA | December 22, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: bloommarko4 | December 22, 2010 11:01 AM

bloommarko4 - what were the errors of his ways? Who has he harmed? I didn't see anything in the Weekly Standard article detailing what abuses he handed out. In fact, his response to Katrina was prompt and effective. How do we know? Because you rarely heard about Mississippi in the MSM during that time. I'm curious if you have any details, or just have standard-issue liberal hate of all Republicans.

Posted by: DougV | December 22, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Rubin's submitting an opinion on his comments one way or the other. She's simply saying that the thorny political problem they present will make it difficult for him to put together a good team to run for president. She is probably right. There are plenty of candidates to back and donors and operatives will flock to them instead.

Posted by: mypitts2 | December 22, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Mississippi is still a world apart---go visit the backroads and very small towns. You will immediately "get" just what Barbour meant (code words). He is well understood and "appreciated" in these Mississippi settings---go visit

Posted by: fairness3 | December 22, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

the has been racist flunkie buuterball barbour can now stay where he belongs....

in the third world state of mississippi.

Posted by: xxxxxx1 | December 22, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Mississippi has always been ahead of the everyone when came to displaying those ideals that made America Great.

Just this spring, Constance McMillin, a graduating senior at Itawamba County Agricultural High School, in Itawamba, Mississippi, and her girl-friend prom-date personally received the outpouring of "Mississippi-style" "Southern Hospitality" and "Christian Love" from her fellow students, student-parents, and community.

Now, the very well fed Mississippi Governor, Haley Barbour, has shown how Mississippi has always stood out from the chaff other Southern States by always extending loving welcomes to its People of Color.

Mississippi should be proud of their long heritage of tolerance, inclusion, and love.

Posted by: MrZ2 | December 22, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

If Barbour's best defense is what is in these posts, Barbour's presidential ambitions are done. The fact that a partisan Republican doesn't have a problem with his remarks (which I personally have no problem with either EXCEPT for the indefensible watermellon remark) does not mitigate the damage done. This myopic and naive attitude brought us Christine O'Donnell, Charon Angle, Joe Miller and Dan Maes. Further, jumping up and down and pointing to stuff Obama's pastor said is no defense.

Posted by: Baltesq | December 23, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

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