Barbour sounds more like a presidential candidate than he ever has
For the past few months, anytime somebody’s asked us if we thought Haley Barbour would run for president in 2012, our answer has been the same: He already is.
And no better proof of that exists than Barbour’s last State of the State.
Tuesday night at the Capitol, Barbour threw out enough conservative red meat to feed the 5,000. He talked about fiscal restraint and smaller government. He boasted of the advanced manufacturing projects the state has lured and the jobs they have created. Barbour refreshed everybody’s memory on tort reform and issued a reminder that he hasn’t raised anybody’s taxes. He slammed President Obama’s energy policies right after he pointed out that 2004’s Defense of Marriage Act got more votes percentage-wise in Mississippi than any other state in the nation. It went on and on.
Of course, Barbour didn’t talk quite as much about the budget shortfall he’s enduring now or the brutally unpopular decisions that lie ahead for him and lawmakers on how to spend scarce state revenue. Barbour won’t be on a ballot this year, but a lot of folks who have carried his water — especially in the Senate — will be, and there will come an issue that will force some of them to choose loyalty to the governor or loyalty to their political well-being.
But cold reality is not what a State of the State is about . It’s about political chest-thumping, and Barbour beat his with both fists. The hard stuff can wait until February and March.
Barbour has said he’ll announce his presidential plans in the spring. Call us crazy, but we think the decision has been made for quite some time, and his last turn in front of a joint session of the Legislature only made us think that even more.