Friday, June 25, 2010


The press loves Haley Barbour and loves speculating on the possibility that he'll run for president, but Politico suggests he's really going to do it this time -- and he's not making any concessions to teabag notions of purity:

... the Mississippi governor is discreetly building a complex political operation rivaling those of any other 2012 GOP presidential prospects.

His apparatus, which has socked away hundreds of thousands of dollars this year alone, will get a major boost -- as will the Barbour 2012 buzz -- when the governor ... attend[s] a big fundraiser Thursday for one of his three political action committees.

The fundraiser, set for adjoining hot spots in Washington's trendy Glover Park neighborhood, has been the talk of Washington GOP circles, boasting a host committee that reads like a next-generation GOP bundling and campaign dream team.

Ascendant lobbyists for the health insurance, tobacco, liquor, defense and pharmaceutical industries are jockeying for space on the host committee with hotshot, young finance professionals and accomplished political operatives....

A Republican operative close to Barbour said the governor is strongly inclined to run for president because he sees weakness in the field of likely candidates and strength in his own political operation....

But who the hell is actually going to vote for this guy?

I mean, yes, I understand Nothstine's point:

I have a feeling that the 2012 presidential race for the GOP is going to be a lot like 2008 was: The dominant voter impression will be of eight or nine unappealing white folks ... milling around on stage trying to out tea-bag one another.... That will continue into the summer until, in the end, the GOP nomination won't go to the winner, but rather to the survivor, like McCain.

In other words, there'll be a lot of ideologues competing for the same ideologue voter pool, so a non-ideologue will win a plurality of the delegates in the early going and then go on to victory.

But isn't that Mitt Romney's role in this scrum?

I'm forgetting that Barbour's a good ol' boy, you say. Well, I think that, for GOP voters, Southern-by-God tribalism has morphed into culture-war resentment, which means Sarah Palin, because of her incessant God-bothering and hatred for all the culture warriors' enemies, because of Trig, for heaven's sake, will be seen as more of an honorary cultural Southerner than Barbour. And if she doesn't run, I think even Gingrich will tap into that thinking more than Barbour. Or hell, even Santorum, who has the advantages of hardcore Jesus-ism (Catholic branch, to be sure, but these days that counts) and having experienced actual (electoral) martyrdom at the hands of the Godless liberals.

I just don't see anyone voting for Barbour who doesn't have a material interest in his success. I know right-wingers generally love fat cats, but at this moment they think they prefer purity and outsider status and lack of corruption. Other candidates can fake all that. Barbour clearly isn't going to bother trying.

I think Barbour's going to be 2012's version of Texas governor John Connally:

Connally announced in January 1979 that he would seek the Republican nomination for President in 1980. He was considered a great orator and strong leader and was featured on the cover of Time with the heading "Hot on the Trail". His wheeler-dealer image remained a liability. He raised more money than any other candidate, but he was never able to overtake the popular conservative front runner Ronald W. Reagan of California.

I like that bit about the "wheeler-dealer image" (Connally was unapologetic about his wealth, saying, "They haven't printed enough money to bribe me"). But 1980 was a time a lot like now -- Americans in despair, the economy in the toilet, Iranians thumbing their noses at us -- and, well, a zealot won the GOP nomination rather than a fat cat. I think history will repeat itself.

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