Barbour’s Mississippi Mud

To be clear about exactly what in Barbour’s conduct does and doesn’t deserve a rebuke, and to take care of some housekeeping with regard to journalistic ethics, please forgive a bit of personal backstory.

Widespread conservative fury erupted after Barbour (who is Haley Barbour’s nephew) helped bring black Democrats to vote for incumbent senator Thad Cochran, contributing to Cochran’s narrow victory over challenger Chris McDaniel. In the immediate aftermath of the primary, I advocated restraint during numerous private conversations. Cochran isn’t a bad guy or a bad senator, I said; there’s nothing inherently wrong with attracting Democratic votes if state primary rules allow it; Ronald Reagan himself repeatedly argued in favor of allowing “crossover” voting in primaries; and while rumors abounded, there was at first no proof of real skullduggery. Specifically referencing Barbour, I said that while I was not a fan of his, he did not deserve blame for creatively and vigorously finding ways to help his candidate win.

National Review
7/21/14