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
11/23/10