Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s State of Pain

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is running for president. This isn’t a prediction, so much as a forgone conclusion. When he wraps up this term in 2011, he will have that prized blend of attributes — executive governing experience, widespread political respect, and relative mainstream anonymity — that the press and voters look for in early frontrunners.

But he also carries his share of albatrosses. Barbour is a former lobbyist (a “pretty damned good one,” by his own estimation) and a critic-turned-soft on Obama’s stimulus, which is apparently a quiet scandal among Republican kingmakers.

Barbour is, supposedly, a hypocrite for criticizing the Recovery Act before accepting cash for Mississippi. That’s silly. Leaders are supposed to preserve jobs and programs in hard times. The governor faced a choice to raise taxes higher and close even more homes for the mentally disabled, or accept an easy grant. He chose the money. It was the right call.

The Atlantic