Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is starting a company that makes little electric cars. On a sweltering Friday in early July, GreenTech Automotive unveiled its signature vehicle — the MyCar — at a plant opening in the North Mississippi town of Horn Lake. McAuliffe was puttering backstage before the event with his pals Bill Clinton and Haley Barbour, the former governor of Mississippi and archetypal Republican lobbyist.
fter our brief conversation backstage, Clinton walked over to Barbour, who was standing about 20 feet away and was seemingly in possession of many of the pounds Clinton had shed. Like McAuliffe, Barbour is a former party chairman — he was head of the Republican National Committee during the early Clinton years — who also seems completely unburdened by angst, misgiving or heavy self-analysis. He thought hard about seeking the 2012 Republican nomination for president. In the end he decided not to run, and after his second term as governor, he rejoined the Washington lobbying firm that still bears his name and made him tens of millions of dollars and where he lobbied for tobacco companies.
The columnist Michael Kinsley noted in Politico how so many veteran reporters were longing for Barbour to run for president. Why? Barbour, Kinsley wrote, “plays on this social insecurity among journalists.” He “doesn’t literally wink as he spins, but he manages to send the message: This is all a big game — a big wonderful game — and you have the privilege of playing it with me.”