On the subject of race, the GOP has a lot of public figures with questionable histories, but few with as long a history as Haley Barbour. The former RNC chairman/Mississippi governor/Boss Hogg impersonator, much like his fellow Mississippian Trent Lott, has a history full of racially insensitive actions, including keeping a Confederate flag autographed by Jefferson Davis in his office, telling the Weekly Standard that conditions in Jim Crow-era Mississippi "weren't that bad" and praising the White Citizen's Council (aka the "upscale KKK") for "keeping the peace." (My personal favorite race incident of his comes from his failed 1982 Senate campaign against former segregationist Senator John Stennis; when an aide referred to black voters as "coons," Barbour warned the aide that if he kept it up, "he would be reincarnated as a watermelon and placed at the mercy of blacks." Charming.) Looking back at that history, one might think he's not the ideal Republican spokesman on the issue of race.
Yet Barbour just can't seem to help himself. We already saw Barbour last week make a fool of himself by accusing Democrats of "playing the race card" in an attempt to deflect attention from Romney's much derided welfare ads (and performing an act of projection so audacious Karl Rove might be impressed). But he's not stopping there. At a recent fundraiser organized by Rove, Barbour was asked for an assessment of the GOP convention and had this to say:
Barbour offered a brief assessment of the Republican National Convention. "While I would love for [Chris] Christie to put a hot poker to Obama's butt," said Barbour of the RNC keynote speaker, "I thought he did what he was supposed to do."Wow. So you wanted Christie to, in effect, brand the first African-American president. Which was, if I'm not mistaken, a common practice among slave owners in the South. Yeah, not racist at all.
I'll let Steve Benen have the final word:
I don't know who's writing Barbour's talking points for him, but when you're joking about branding the first African-American president, it's time for some new material.Either that or just stop talking and concentrate on rounding up those no-good Duke boys.