WaPo’s Dan Balz profliles Miss. Gov. Haley Barbour today as the new-old face of Republican revival. Barbour’s taken over as head of the Republican Governors Association, having assumed that high office after SC Gov. Mark Sanford took a hike, and he’ll be hosting the National Governors Association in Biloxi, where religion takes a back seat to gambling as top leisure-time activity. Barbour himself belongs to the bourbon-and-branch school of Southern Republicanism. A few years ago, when Mississippi was going through some belt-tightening, the joke was that the only state account that wasn’t trimmed was the governor’s Maker’s Mark account.
As Balz points out, Barbour presided over the GOP during its heady rise to congressional power in the early 1990s–after which he made a ton of money in the lobbying business. That’s pretty much his lens for viewing Washington, as in:
He said he also has high regard for Obama’s political team. “They’re
tough as nails,” he said. “This the first White House since [Richard]
Nixon that K Street is afraid of.”
So much does Barbour represent his party’s K Street wing that in his 2006s reelection campaign, which should have been a walk-over thanks to his adroit handling of post-Katrina reconstruction (including the revival of Gulf Coast gambling–against the wishes of North Mississippi religious folk), he got a run for his money from Democrat John Arthur Eaves, Jr., a pious Democrat who lambasted him up and down the state for being one of those moneychanger types that Jesus threw out of the Temple. For the story, here’s Charles Reagan Wilson’s account in Religion in the News.
In other words, if Barbour’s to be the savior of the GOP, don’t look for him to ramp up the culture wars. It’ll be the money guys all the way home.