Pundit Blog – Haley Barbour = adult supervision

In the fall and winter of 1998, I had the brief chance to work for Haley Barbour at his firm, Barbour, Griffith and Rogers (before Speaker-elect Denny Hastert asked me to return to Capitol Hill and serve as his spokesman).

Haley was the hardest-working, smartest, most capable person I have ever worked with.

He was conservative, but in the memorable words of Mike Huckabee, he wasn’t angry about it. He was strategic and policy-oriented, but he also understood the politics behind the policy. He was always on message, but he never was dull when he talked to the press. Even back then, he was the total package.

Now Haley Barbour is the governor of Mississippi and the chairman of the Republican Governors Association. He played an important, if behind-the-scenes, role in the two elections that turned out well for Republicans yesterday. As the RGA chairman, he helped the candidates with fundraising, with messaging and with turnout.

There has been some talk about who the next leader of the party should be. I wrote late last year that the party needed another Haley Barbour, who as Republican National Committee chairman helped rebuild the party in the early 1990s, the last time Republicans were in the wilderness.

Maybe we don’t need another Haley Barbour. Maybe we just need the Haley Barbour. He provides some necessary adult supervision. He doesn’t pop off on things he doesn’t know about. He doesn’t play Republicans against one another. He doesn’t call for purges against the moderates. He is an adult. The party needs one right now.

John Feehery
The Hill’s Pundit Blog
11/4/9