Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I hereby withdraw my endorsement of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination

I've described Haley Barbour as the perfect Republican, given his corpulence (he's got the right Republican look), his racism, his anti-abortion extremism, his fealty to corporate profiteering, his corporate lobbying, his reality-denying corporatism, his pro-Confederacy views, and his white Southern roots, as well as Barbour-Bachmann as the perfect Republican ticket in 2012.

But it seems he's not all Boss Hoggery after all -- and, indeed, that on one key issue he runs counter to the Republican line:

Barbour may be eager to showcase his record, but one of Barbour's foreign lobbying clients could cause him some troubles in the 2012 Republican primary, if he decides to run. According to a State Department filing by Barbour's former lobbying firm, The Embassy of Mexico decided to retain Barbour's services on August 15, 2001, to work on, among other things, legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for foreigners living illegally in the United States -- what opponents of immigration reform call "amnesty."

Now, to Barbour's credit -- and I can't quite believe I'm giving him credit for anything -- his views on "illegal" immigration are rather more enlightened than those of your average Republican:

I don't know where we would have been in Mississippi after Katrina if it hadn't been with the Spanish speakers that came in to help rebuild. And there's no doubt in my mind some of them were here illegally. Some of them were, some of them weren't. But they came in, they looked for the work. If they hadn't been there — if they hadn't come and stayed for a few months or a couple years -- we would be way, way, way behind where we are now... A lot of it is just common sense. And common sense tell us we're not going to take 10 or 12 or 14 million people and put them in jail and deport them. We're not gonna do it, and we need to quit -- some people need to quit acting like we are and let's talk about real solutions.

Of course, what this suggests is that what Barbour values is cheap immigrant labour. But, again, at least he's against deportation, against the extremist anti-immigrant views so prevalent on the right these days -- and at least he wants to talk about "real solutions," something very few Republicans do.

And yet this alone probably disqualifies him from the Republican nomination -- were he to seek it, though I don't think he will -- given that "amnesty" is one of the dirtiest words in the GOP lexicon and that appealing for primary votes means appealing to the anti-Mexican bigotry of the party base.

No matter that immigrants like the ones Barbour was talking about work hard and contribute to America. If you're serious about being the Republican nominee for president, or the Republican nominee for pretty much any elected office, your playbook needs to include the scapegoating of Mexican immigrants, and particularly the undocumented ones, not just as the new Other (along with Muslims) but (as with Muslims) as the gravest of threats to American national security and the well-being of real (i.e., white) Americans.

And so, I'm sad to say, Haley Barbour may no longer be considered the perfect Republican and should not headline the 2012 ticket -- unless he pulls a Romney and sprints off to the far right.

I hereby withdraw my endorsement. That's what happens when you show a speck of humanity in the dense, dark morass of Republican medievalism.

I applaud him, but he's just not Republican enough for my liking -- and for the extremists who run the GOP.

Go back to Mississippi, you good-for-nothin' Commie!


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