Back in the 1990s, I wrote many speeches for Gov. Haley Barbour when he was the head of the Republican National Committee. Now he’s finishing his second term as governor of Mississippi and had a lot of people urging him to run for president this year. When you write a lot of speeches for someone, you get to know that person pretty well. Haley Barbour is an honorable, decent man. He’s compassionate and treats the people who work for him well. He’s also a lawyer, and is one of the smartest people I know in politics.
Now Barbour is in the news because he pardoned over 200 people on his final day in office, some of whom were convicted of violent crimes. His decision to grant pardons—which allow their records to be expunged, as well as to vote, hunt, and get various licenses—may be controversial, but it’s not illegal.
Mary Kate Cary is a former White House speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush. She currently writes speeches for political and business leaders.