You’ve got to love this one. Chris Matthews on his weekend show put it to his “Matthews Meter” and asked his regulars if “serious candidate” Haley Barbour “can run as a Southern alternative [to Barack Obama] without appearing racially insensitive?”
And what was their overwhelming response? By 11 to 1 they said yes he can. Howard Fineman took the first turn out of the box defending Barbour.
MATTHEWS: Howard, you said he can get away with that sort of geographic appeal and Southern boy appeal without raising the old American problem.
FINEMAN: Well, he can’t just get away with it, he can do it, but he’s got to be careful. There is no margin for error. And he’s made a couple of pre-season errors here in some of his comments about how the controversy in Virginia over black history month didn’t mean diddly…
MATTHEWS: Confederate month…
FINEMAN: Confederate month didn’t mean diddly, etc., etc.
MATTHEWS: The Citizens Councils were pretty cool…
FINEMAN: But well, I think he is playing to the Southern old boy vote, there’s no question about the good old boy vote, there’s no question. But I think he can do it in still try to sell himself to the rest of the country if he’s careful. I’ve covered him for years. I’ve known him for a long time. He’s a very smart guy and he’s doing what you advised in your book, Hardball, which is if you have a problem…
MATTHEWS: Hang a lantern on it…
FINEMAN: Hang a lantern on it… I was a lobbyist, and I was a darn good lobbyist.
Yeah, who cares that he was a lobbyist, or that he's paling around with the
KKK CCC, or that he's tried to rewrite the Civil Rights movement in the South. Why would anyone care about any of that? This just reeks of the same treatment they gave George W. Bush as just some regular guy everybody "would like to have a beer with" when that was about the furthest thing from the truth.
Major Garrett apparently thinks that if someone who worked for Jeb Bush supports Barbour now, that somehow means Barbour can’t possibly be a racist. Well thanks Major. I'm glad you cleared that up for us.
Matthews wrapped things up by asking whether this “charmer” (And, yes, they were talking about Haley Barbour) from the South has what it takes to win over the public to which Howard Fineman responded with this fawning praise of Barbour.
MATTHEWS: Howard, I think he has something, and you touched on it. He has a personality. And some of these and what most people are looking for in this election, with whatever their party politics are, they want a personality, a recognizable human being. And Pawlenty and Romney and these guys and Newt don’t seem to be at least a kind of human being you want to hang out with.
FINEMAN: Here’s the funny thing about it Haley having known him for a long time. When he was Republican Part chair, he’s one of the shrewdest political operators we’ve ever seen. But yet he doesn’t come off like somebody manufactured by politics.
In fact he’s lived his whole life in politics…
MATTHEWS: You don’t see the seams.
FINEMAN: You don’t see the seams. It’s all effortless to him. It doesn’t look mechanical to him and that’s very appealing.
MATTHEWS: Howard, you’re the best…. He really is that shrewd a pol.
Well, he’s only that shrewd a pol if you let him get away with it, and after watching this segment it's pretty obvious that's exactly what our beltway Villagers are planning to do.