Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant should study the record of one of his predecessors, the late John Bell Williams.
Williams, a longtime congressman who had lost an arm in World War II, was about as conservative as they come, a Democrat in name only when he defeated William Winter for governor in 1967.
Williams had been stripped of his seniority privileges by congressional Democrats for openly supporting Republican Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential race. He had opposed President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” anti-poverty programs, including Medicaid, a health-insurance program for the poor.
Veteran Mississippi journalist Bill Minor, who covered the state Capitol for the New Orleans TimesPicayune during the Williams administration, recalls in a column how Williams changed his stance on Medicaid “after getting all the facts and finding out Medicaid’s importance to the health of Mississippians, especially the poor with no health coverage.”