by John Grooms
The fact that Haley Barbour wants to rewrite the Souths history wasnt the biggest surprise that came out of his mega-gaffe last week.
Barbour, the Republican governor of Mississippi, got into trouble for praising the Citizens Councils of the 1960s South as an organization of town leaders who were against the Ku Klux Klan. Never mind that most people at the time called them the White Citizens Councils. And never mind that they fought, very publicly, against racial integration by every legal means they could think of, including pulling their kids out of public schools. (Thats the reason so many private schools popped up in the South in the late-50s and early-60s, in case you havent heard.) And Barbour's bit about the Citizens Councils being against the Klan? Its true, they were, but not because the Klan was racist. By the 1950s, the newly revived Klan was largely comprised of lower-class whites, whom the Citizens Councils middle- and upper-middle-class members considered an embarrassment to the cause of segregation; the Klan was white trash, in other words. To have the sacred cause of upholding whites superiority associated in the national mind with the Klans trashy behavior (i.e., beatings, bombings, burnings and bad teeth) was simply more than the country club set could stand.
But, no, Barbours upside-down history of that era wasnt the most surprising thing about the governors comments. Neither were the attempts by the Fox/Rush Axis of Drivel to cover Barbours ass by engaging in equally ridiculous revisions of one of the most well-documented eras in U.S. history. The biggest surprise, at least to this observer, was that Haley Barbour was being seriously peddled as a presidential candidate in the first place. As TalkingPointsMemo notes today, You have to be ... permanently encased in the DC cocoon ever to have thought that Haley Barbour was a serious ... candidate. One of the easier things to do to get Barbour elected, TPM continues, would be erasing the image of Boss Hogg from the cultural memory of every American over the age of 30. Barbours appearance and accent bring to mind the image of a good ol boy sheriff; and, as TPM also points out, The confederate flag signed by Confederate President Jefferson Davis near his desk doesn't help, either.
But thats not all that makes Barbour a presidential non-starter. One thing his opponents would rightfully hang on Barbour is that he's known as one of the top D.C. lobbyists of the past 30 years. Yes, before he became Guvnuh Aw-shucks, Barbour co-founded Barbour Griffith & Rogers now the BGR Group which became one of the most powerful lobbying outfits in Washington history. In an age when Americans have caught on to the fact that lobbyists now essentially run Congress and when those Americans are pretty pissed off about that Barbour's past would kill his presidential hopes even faster than his careless mouth. Oh, and did I mention Barbour spent over $500,000 over the past three years on air travel? Or that those flights have to be paid for by the taxpayers of Mississippi, one of the countrys poorest states?