Haley Barbour Not Running For President in 2012

If there is one thing we should have learned from the 2008 primary and general elections, to say nothing of 1996, it’s that being a good presidential candidate on paper is useless; you have to want it – want it badly enough to hire a serious staff, badly enough to trim a few positions and hard edges to fit the various demands of the primary and general electorates, badly enough to endure the most exhaustive efforts to tear apart your entire life for public entertainment, badly enough to spend endless weary hours fundraising and stumping in Iowa and New Hampshire and enduring crummy bus rides with grumpy reporters and town halls with cranks and half-wits and left-wing troublemakers. Your family needs to want it too – a man whose wife doesn’t want him to be president will not become president. It’s a big, life-consuming commitment, and you don’t do it halfway.
Add Haley Barbour now to the list of people who simply were not willing to make that 100% commitment, and Gov. Barbour knows himself and the task well enough not to pretend otherwise and run halfway:

“A candidate for president today is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else,” Barbour added. “His (or her) supporters expect and deserve no less than absolute fire in the belly from their candidate. I cannot offer that with certainty, and total certainty is required.”

Gov. Barbour’s combination of folksy populism and gravitas, and his matchless rolodex as 1994 RNC chairman and 2010 RGA chairman – the two greatest years for GOP candidates across the country in a long time – would have made him a formidable entrant into the race. He had his weaknesses as a candidate too, which are moot now; the point is that a fully committed Barbour would have been a factor. Perhaps we should have suspected this was coming when his right-hand man at RGA, Nick Ayers, instead signed up for the Pawlenty campaign.
The roster of candidates who are genuinely serious GOP contenders – especially if you look at who has won a statewide election some time in the past decade – remains limited. All eyes will now turn to the people who remain on the fence (Sarah Palin, Mitch Daniels, Mike Huckabee) or denying they’re interested (Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan) to see who else might round out the field. In particular, the field now seems especially thin on Southerners for a party with so many officeholders in the region.
There’s still plenty of time to jump in; there’s perhaps less time now to hire staff and raise money. It’s early still; but as Yogi Berra said, it gets late early out there.

10 thoughts on “Haley Barbour Not Running For President in 2012”

  1. Based on that first paragraph, you can probably rule out a career writing job advertisements for an HR department. 🙂
    It reminds me of what JFK supposedly said to Barry Goldwater: “So, you want this *bleeping* job?”

  2. Crank,
    I love the reference to “town halls with cranks and half-wits and left-wing troublemakers.” Since the left are labeled merely as troublemakers, that leaves the cranks and holf-wits to the right. Seems correct to me.
    Barbour has so many skeletons both from his lobbying days, as well as from the woeful ranking of Mississippi in nearly every category of life, that he would have been fileted like a salmon on the trail. Bachmann has been fun so far; here’s hoping Palin and Perry join her soon.

  3. The town hall quote caught my eye as well. Crank, are the cranks (pun barely, even not meant to be intended, well, almost) and half wits the geniuses the right got to hold up the signs, “Keep the government off of my Medicare?”

  4. Barbour had a snowballs chance in Hell of getting the nod. No matter how you sugar coated his past on civil rights and revisionist history of the South had him doomed. He just jumped out so the not so honest could wax poetically about him and conveniently ignore the facts of why he could never win the nomination.

  5. Yeah, no doubt Barbour was another example of poor vetting from the GOP and the Right’s willingness to accept such a tainted candidate.
    Why oh why can’t we get a candidate like that handsome John Edwards!?!
    Lefties are so obtuse sometimes, and thank goodness for it. Very amusing to watch.

  6. I think Barbour’s failing is the same as Bachman’s. Isaac Asimov called it the Cult of Ignorance. Somehow, it’s become almost fashionable to wittily dismiss your lack of knowledge as something elite. In any profession, it’s important to really understand the history of it. In American Politics, it’s American History. Yes, we all should revel in it, but it’s immoral if a politician lacks it. Nor is Barbour a presidential type. I see him more as a chief of staff type anyway. Not an insult. It’s in many ways the difference between Reagan and GHW Bush.

  7. Personally I am looking forward to the Trump, Bachman, Palin, Paul debate. Not enough popcorn in the world for that one!

  8. MVH – You have to be at least a little crazy to want the job.
    Magrooder – Heh. Well, my point was to distinguish between paid left-wing agitators and the ordinary mass of people who show up for town halls, which in any setting includes a fair number of idiots and loons. It’s a fact of democracy.
    java – I’d been skeptical for a while that Barbour could be a winning candidate because of the MS baggage and the fact that he’s an ex-lobbyist who looks and sounds like Boss Hogg. To say nothing of real concerns that his healthcare and spending views were not really the badge of a small-government conservative. That said, I do think he’d have made an excellent Commander-in-Chief.
    daryl – Of course, just calling a man ignorant doesn’t make him so. Folksy style is an old tradition among politicians, esp. in the South (think of Sam Ervin, Harvard Law ’22, who used to call himself a poor country lawyer). I’d rather have a guy with some humility than somebody like Obama, Nixon, or Wilson who always has to show he’s the smartest guy in the room. But I agree Barbour would be a good CoS-he is, as the media accounts have noted, ready to step in to the Jim Baker role of the party’s wise man who knows everyone.
    jim – Well, we’re certainly gonna have a zoo onstage, but that’s par for the course for early debates. Right now it’s hard to see who besides Romney and Pawlenty is a serious candidate and definitely running, although some of the people who are unserious candidates, like John Bolton, are nonetheless serious people.

  9. “MS baggage” denying Jim Crow was a problem? geez Crank, for a guy who claims the moral ground why to you let something like that slide. A guy who claims ignorance on a some simple fact can not lead a broad populace. Bit then again he has a R by his name so you continue to suspend reality.

  10. Crank, no argument about the smartest guy in the room. And my opinion of Wilson was said before here: I put him down as among the most destructive presidents in history.
    No, I have no issue with the folksiness. It’s honestly the slavery/civil war causes that bugs me. Because he IS a smart man, and he pandered. Pander over little things not over the big. Which is why the birther nonsense was just that. Unlike Bachman, he really does know his American History.
    And Crank, you really think the right didn’t bring in mega agitators to those town hall meetings? The republican record on public meetings is a poor one: excluding enormous numbers of people with disagreeing (but not disagreeable) protest signs.

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