Charlie Mitchell: Katrina proves people can team up

None of this is the theme of Barbour’s book. It’s pretty apolitical, in fact. In the introduction, former Gulf Coast newspaper executive Ricky Mathews points out something a lot of people already know. In his heart of hearts, Haley Barbour is a policy wonk. He shakes hands well; he gives good speeches. But his jollies come from ideas and formulating strategies. If he never made another public appearance, he wouldn’t miss it — much.

His book is not about political intrigue. It reflects his wonkishness, his love of numbers.

But his theme is that people, not government, are the best managers of their destinies and are capable of amazing feats.

He wrote: “As the (first) week drew to a close, the biggest single reason for my optimism was the spirit and character of the people of Mississippi. These were not wealthy people with great material resources, but they were strong, resilient, self-reliant people. They had borne the brunt of the worst natural disaster in American history; they had been knocked down flat, but I believed they’d get right back up.”

In a summer of random violence, bickering about flags and over who should be licensed to wed, it’s refreshing to remember we can — at least when essential — put all that aside. We can put aside bickering, find solutions.