Near the end of Karen Tumulty’s solid assessment of Haley Barbour’s likely presidential campaign for the Washington Post appears this very interesting passage:
Race — and presumptions about how he feels about it — rattle the normally unflappable Barbour as few other things do.
“The only people who ever asked me about it are reporters,” he said, bristling when asked about it yet again in the interview.
But he and his team know that race is one issue he can’t dodge, and that is why Barbour — just as Obama did during his presidential campaign — is considering giving a major speech on the subject. The likely venue: a 50th anniversary reunion of the Freedom Riders, set for late May in Jackson.
A “major speech” by Haley Barbour on race? A speech guaranteed to be compared to Obama’s 2008 “race speech”? What on earth would that sound like? A purely for-the-record denunciation of Jim Crow? A defiant neo-Rebel shout that the only racism worth mentioning these days is prejudice against southern white Christians? A paean to color-blindedness (e.g., an attack on affirmative action)?
And how would the Freedom Ride alumni feel about serving as props in a Haley Barbour sanitizing effort?
This could be very interesting.
UPDATE: A friend of mine emailed to ask: “Wonder if he’ll do a ‘lobbying speech’ as well.” If so, he might as well turn it into a “tobacco speech” while he’s at it.