Gov. Haley Barbour had a pretty bad day in the press yesterday, following his revisionist praise for the white supremacist Citizens' Councils. Some of the headlines:
- Haley’s Comet: Could remarks on civil rights damage a campaign before it starts?
- Haley Barbour's Praise For Racist Group Gets Noticed
- Haley Barbour’s Macaca Moment?
- So Not Ready For Prime Time
- NR's Geraghty: Barbour 'unelectable'
That last one particularly has to sting, since originally Geraghty reacted with the usual "this is so not a real issue" reaction entitled "Haley Barbour Faces an All-Too Familiar, All-Too Exhausted Accusation," blaming liberal bloggers for exaggerating Barbour's race problem. Perhaps Geraghty got a reminder of Barbour's very long political history of race problems--here's kos writing about it back in 2003. Whatever the reason, Geraghty soon joined the chorus of other conservatives in deciding Barbour's 2012 aspirations are now "toast."
So it's damage control time for Barbour. His spokesman's insistence that "he's not a racist" wasn't enough to stem the tide of bad press and flight of rats from his sinking ship. He's issued a "clarification" of his defense of the Citizens' Councils.
When asked why my hometown in Mississippi did not suffer the same racial violence when I was a young man that accompanied other towns’ integration efforts, I accurately said the community leadership wouldn’t tolerate it and helped prevent violence there. My point was my town rejected the Ku Klux Klan, but nobody should construe that to mean I think the town leadership were saints, either. Their vehicle, called the ‘Citizens Council,’ is totally indefensible, as is segregation. It was a difficult and painful era for Mississippi, the rest of the country, and especially African Americans who were persecuted in that time.
Oh, right. African Americans were persecuted (but that was then, right? Mississippi is a bastion of equality, now). He almost forgot that part in his rewriting the history of Yazoo City in the 1950s. Will it wipe away Barbour's long history of glorifying the South's racist past? Probably not. Judging by how the Right ended up turning on him, and turning fast, they're apparently not ready for such blatant racism becoming the face of the GOP. They prefer a much quieter dog whistle.