Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) walked back controversial comments he made to The Weekly Standard, saying the pro-segregation White Citizens Council he spoke warmly of was "totally indefensible, as is segregation." Barbour also acknowledged that the Civil Rights era was in fact "difficult and painful" for Mississippi, the U.S., and "especially African Americans who were persecuted in that time." Is this "clarification" enough to repair any damage to his possible 2012 presidential aspirations? Or has he flubbed his shot at the White House? (Watch an MSNBC discussion about Barbour's gaffe)
Barbour's bid is toast: By itself, Barbour's gaffe isn't enough to "make him unelectable," says Jim Geraghty in National Review. But coupled with past statements, especially an "unthinkably obnoxious and racially provocative" watermelon joke he made in 1982, his White House run is "almost certainly" done, "and deservedly so if Barbour had a habit of using stereotypical caricatures." Sadly, the "epic double standard" on race means similar stupidity wouldn't sink a Democrat.
"Haley Barbour, take two"
There is hope for a recovery: What Barbour said "is damaging, but it's not disqualifying for a potential presidential bid," says Justin Miller in The Atlantic. "The story doesn't have legs — yet," and Barbour is lucky there is no video of his remarks, since "print quotes don't carry the same punch." There's also ample time before the primaries for him to "repent" for any racial "sins" in his past. Besides, which GOP constituency has he alienated? "All those black Republicans"?
"Why Barbour's civil rights remarks may not kill a White House run"
It won't sink Barbour, but he is damaged goods: Most worrisome for Barbour is that he's "snuffed" out the "good buzz" surrounding him "among the Washington insider crowd," says Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post. And that buzz "does matter" if he wants to have a legitimate shot. Ultimately, his "unforced error" isn't a "campaign-ender," but if he wants to beat the "race storyline," he'll have to do a better job explaining his views on the subject from now on.
"Haley Barbour: How he hurt himself (and how he can come back)"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- California's epic drought
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- How to be the star of a cocktail party where you don't know anyone
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
Subscribe to the Week