After Haley Barbour's wink-and-nudge act about the White Citizens Councils caught a lot of people's attention, Eric Kleefeld at TPM called up Barbour's spokesman, Dan Turner, who gave Kleefeld a decidedly prickly and paranoid interview -- including this nugget:
"Tell me what in Gov. Barbour's past gives any indication of any racist leanings, and I'll be glad to address the question," said Turner. "Otherwise, it's not a legitimate question. There's nothing in his past that shows that. If you pick out a sentence or a paragraph out of a fairly long article and harp on it, you can manipulate it. And that sounds to me like what you're trying to do."
Hmmm, that's tough. Oh yeah. There is this:
This is Barbour on July 19, 2003, at the Black Hawk Barbecue and Political Rally, held to raise money for [wink wink, nudge nudge] "private academy" school buses. The barbecue is the big fund-raising shindig thrown every year by the Council of Conservative Citizens -- the successor organization to the White Citizens Councils and one of the nation's most prominent white-supremacist outfits. On the far right (appropriately) is the CofCC's national field director, Bill Lord.
Barbour later tried to claim, incidentally, that he didn't know anything about the CofCC. Considering how knowledgeable he appears to be regarding the White Citizens Councils, this doesn't seem particularly credible anymore. Still, he declined to ask them to remove his photo from their website:
"Once you start down the slippery slope of saying 'That person can't be for me,' then where do you stop?" Barbour said. "Old segregationists? Former Ku Klux Klan like (Sen.) Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.? You know?
"Once you get into that, you spend your time doing nothing else," Barbour said. "I don't care who has my picture. My picture's in the public domain. It gets published in newspapers every day."
Wanna bet if an outfit called the "Council of Conservative Pedophiles" ran Barbour's picture, he'd be so sanguine?
Kos had details at the time about Barbour's participation in the picnic.
Be sure to read all of Kleefeld's interview, which is pretty remarkable -- especially these exchanges:
After being pressed further on whether Barbour's comments about the Citizens Councils were accurate, Turner said: "I'm aware of what the governor said in this interview. I'm not gonna get into the business of trying to twist what the governor said, or to manipulate it."
What does he mean by manipulate it, I asked?
"Your questions are very angular, let's say that," said Turner. "You have a very specific point that you're trying to drive at, and you're trying to paint the governor as a racist. And nothing could be further from the truth."
I then responded that I was not asking about whether Barbour is a racist, but was asking about whether it is true or not that the group he praised was a racist organization?
"It was an organization in Yazoo City that was, you know, a group of the town leaders and business people," Turner responded, then referring back to Barbour's comment. "And they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. And that doesn't sound like a racist to me. Does it to you?"
Turner then repeatedly asked me that question, whether the group in Yazoo City sounds racist from its anti-Klan policies. I responded again by asking about the same Yazoo City group that launched boycotts of African-Americans who sought civil rights.
In other words, because the WCC actively badmouthed the Klan -- for giving the South a violent black eye -- it couldn't possibly have been racist. Right. Those archives are just an illusion.
More generically, Barbour also loved to trumpet the Confederate flag when he was campaigning. No doubt his spokesman can gussy up a whole deluge of words to explain that away too. But the stain is pretty indelible. And becoming more obvious all the time.