Haley Barbour Reverses Course on “General-Gate” Plate Issue

Bookmark and ShareAs previously addressed in a post here, Governor Haley Barbour was not looking very presidential when he reportedly supported a proposal for Mississippi license that commemorated Confederate war generals. Among those would have been Bedford Forrest a native of Tennessee, who orchestrated the massacre of blacks at Fort Pillow in Tennessee, was a known slave trader, and connected to the early origins of the Klu Klux Klan.

At the time we suggested that if Haley Barbour was running for President, his support of this proposal was a sign that he was being ill-advised. When the NAACP approached the Governor objecting this proposal, he initially told them that he does not go around objecting to people.

Now Governor Barbour has reversed course and told the Associated Press;

The bureaucracy denied it, the legislature won’t pass it and if the legislature passes it, it won’t become law because I won’t sign it.”

It is early enough in the game to eventually write this incident off as a forgotten brouhaha but the problem is becoming that will there be too many brouhahas over the issue of race for them to be collectively written off and not play a role in a potential campaign. By my account this is the Governor’s third recent strike on racial sensitivities. He’s not out but he is on the roped but on this issues, right now he’s on the ropes.

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Can the Confederacy Beat Haley Barbour’s Chances of Winning the White House

Bookmark and Share A piece in the Hattiesburg American Daily News in Mississippi writes; “If Gov. Haley Barbour is truly considering running for president in 2012, we think he’s getting some really bad advice.”

They go on to credit him with battles with the state legislature to keep the state budget out of the red, his leadership during Katrina and even go as far as calling him one of the smartest political tacticians we have ever come across.

They go on to conclude that that is what makes his handling of the super-sensitive proposal of a car tag that recognizes Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest so surprising and disappointing.

The Sons of the Confederate Veterans have proposed that in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the state of Mississippi produce a series of license plates that pay homage to Southern generals. Among those Generals is Nathan Bedford Forrest. Brigadier General Forrest was an uneducated but intelligent manwho became an untrained but naturally superior military tactician who is said to have been praised by allies and enemies alike and with whom both Generals Grant and Sherman feared. But Forrest had his faults, fauts that after having entered the Confederate Army as a Private, after rising to the rank of Brigadier General, he left the Confederate Army as a Private. And from purelyhuman decencyand political points of view, Forrest was disputably an early founder of the Klu Klux Klan.

During the Civil War Forrest was the alleged architect of the slaughter of black prisoners at Fort Pillow, in Tennessee. After the Civil War Forrest apparently lent his name to a group of Democrats that became known as the Klu Klux Klan. But Forrest apparently did not agree with the groups activities and had ordered it disbanded. That order was however disobeyed. But even though Forrest parted ways with the Klan, as a former slave trader who fought for slavery in the Civil War, Forrest could never be held up as a civil rights leader, nor will he be receiving any posthumous awards from the NAACP.

Yet Governor Haley Barbour has neglected to step in and stop his state from issuing a license plates that honor Brig. Gen. Forrest. That may be a good thing among the Sons of the Confederate Veterans but it probably wont go over so well when you are running against the son of a black man who is the President of the United States or when your fellow Republican opponents for the presidential nomination are trying to create doubt about your judgment.

Politically this issue is a lose-lose one for Barbour. If he rejects the request, he can easily be viewed as catering to political correctness. But refusing to take step ands stop the commemorative plate from going through, he is viewed as incentive and possible even as possessing racist tendencies, a charge which he has not nullified with some recent off-the-cuff remarks he has made.

In the final analysis, even though I am not one to normally agree with the lamestream media, I must agree here with the Hattiesburg American News. A better advised Haley Barbour would have found a way around the request for at least this specific commemorative plate. One way may have been for the governor to limit it to Generals from the state of Mississippi. Nathan Bedford Forrest was born, raised and died in Tennessee.

For the record, I do not believe that Governor Barbour is a racist or has racist tendencies.Hisrecord can prove that he is not. Furthermore, as President, Haley Barbour would probably do much regarding race relations in America to overcompensate for charges to the contrary. But the problem is, he is not President yet, and to get there, little things like this must be doused quickly because the political winds of a presidential campaign have a way of whipping a small flame into a large wildfire.

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