It’s time to stop daydreaming and face up to this nightmare

Why did it take such a crude awakening to shatter the daydreams of Gov. Haley Barbour and others entrusted with the safety of South Mississippi?

Perhaps if he had gone to that “photo-op” with the president and other Gulf governors in Louisiana weeks ago Barbour would have developed a greater sense of the peril and addressed it with more urgency and vigor.

With the smallest coastline on the Gulf, Mississippi’s ecology should have been the most defensible.

Yet an underestimation of the potential threat, particularly by Barbour, has left us more vulnerable.

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida have been advocates for a stronger response to this disaster in their respective states and across the region. Barbour’s focus has been more limited: he has spent much of his time being an advocate for the state’s tourism industry — and for the oil industry which threatens it. And, of course, he has been playing a very active role in Republican politics.

This is not to begrudge the governor his standing in the GOP. His political connections and how they might help Mississippi was one of the factors in his favor that twice won him this newspaper’s endorsement. However, his travels to distant places and engagement in political fundraising during these days of crisis on the Coast are questionable, even troubling. Barbour’s priority ought to be with his constituents in Mississippi.

Sun Herald Editorial
6/237/10