April 12th, 2010
12:07 PM ET
12 years ago

DNC: Barbour 'defended the indefensible'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/11/art.barbouriso0411.cnn.jpg caption=" Gov. Haley Barbour's comments 'portrayed a Republican mindset that is not only out of touch with this century, but the last one as well,' a spokesman for the DNC said Sunday."]
Washington (CNN) – With the nation’s first African-American president occupying the Oval Office, the South’s Confederate history is ensnaring a second Republican governor in as many weeks in a controversy over how the nation ought to remember the institution of slavery.

Trying to defend a fellow Southern Republican governor, Mississippi’s Haley Barbour drew fire from the Democratic National Committee, which issued a statement Sunday after an interview with Barbour aired on CNN’s State of the Union.

Earlier: Concern of slavery omission 'doesn't amount to diddly,' says Barbour

“I don’t know what you would say about slavery,” Barbour told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, “but anybody who thinks that slavery is a bad thing – I think goes without saying.”

Barbour was explaining his belief that Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell had not made a mistake in omitting any mention of slavery from a recent proclamation declaring April Confederate History Month in his state.

Responding to allegations that McDonnell’s omission was insensitive, Barbour said, “To me, it's a sort of feeling that it's a nit. That it is not significant, that it's not a – it's trying to make a big deal out of something doesn't amount to diddly.”

The DNC slammed Barbour for the remarks.

"Governor Barbour defended the indefensible this morning and in doing so portrayed a Republican mindset that is not only out of touch with this century, but the last one as well,” DNC national press secretary Hari Sevugan said in a written statement. “To say that the systematic condemnation of millions to bondage and generation upon generation to servitude is ‘not significant,’ or that the tearing apart of families and the selling of human beings as cattle ‘doesn't amount to diddly’ is outrageous for any public official to say, let alone a man Republicans have placed in a position of leadership.”

Sevugan added, “These comments are unacceptable and should be universally condemned in the strongest terms. A failure to do so will send a strong message to all Americans that Republicans endorse Governor Barbour's sentiments and are content not only to be left behind in another century, but that they deserve to be a small regional party in the permanent minority “

Last week, McDonnell announced that he was amending his proclamation to refer to slavery and call it “an evil and inhumane practice.”

Related: McDonnell apologizes for initial proclamation

"The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed," McDonnell said last week.

Filed under: DNC • GOP • Haley Barbour • State of the Union
soundoff (310 Responses)
  1. Steve (the real one)

    I know I will be classified as a racist (or better yet an Uncle Tom) but Bill Cosby asked us to man up and so did Pres Obama (as a candidate). We can never man up TODAY when we are more in tune with the PAST rather than working on our PRESENT and FUTURE. Nobody said forget the past, we just cannot live more in the past than in the present! I cannot go back into time and make any thing better. i can however, help make things better TODAY and hopefully for the FUTURE! That is all I am saying!

    April 12, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  2. Eric

    To whom ever WROTE THIS STORY!! What the hell difference does it make if the "nation’s first African-American president occupying the Oval Office". Barbour and McDonnell were trying change history and capitalize on racist fears for political gain, they are fools and foul!!! Whether Obama is President or not, does not change Barbour and McDonnell's intolerance!

    April 12, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  3. REG in AZ

    The Republican Party’s total concentration and unyielding efforts are obvious as aggressively pursuing the following priorities:
    • One, to aggressively fault and obstruct all Democratic efforts, regardless of the country’s needs and any resulting costs.
    • Two, to aggressively insure party unity, including to coerce and intimidate their own representatives and to squelch any individual consciences.
    • Three, to aggressively use subterfuge with exaggerated scare tactics and heightened emotional appeals attempting to manipulate and control public opinion.
    • Four, to aggressively join with Special Interests and the influential, powerful and extremely wealthy few, their strong supporters, to prevent change and to seek return to ‘more of the same’ that already cost us so much.
    • Five, to aggressively seek fulfillment of their political ambitions at any cost.

    Nowhere in any of it is there any honest and conscientious real concern for the people, rather only a stubbornly irresponsible and arrogantly self-serving focus. Even when considering Democratic faults and voter loyalty there simply isn’t any gain from supporting what the Republicans offer. The real need is to strongly deflect the manipulation and encourage them to return to responsibly representing the people by firmly rejecting what they have become.

    April 12, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  4. mintJulip

    If we are going to force McDonnel to include slavery language in his Confederate History Month proclamation we might as well force him to also include Lincoln's war crimes against the South.

    April 12, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  5. Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

    Out of curiosity, what were the positives of the Confederacy? I can't think of even one, and I know that part of American history quite well.

    What's there to celebrate? That your ancesters tore apart the United States in defense of a horrible institution?

    April 12, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  6. TimThorp

    Gov. Barbour seems to have trouble stringing 2 coherent sentences together that make any sense. I would call that a "nit" trying to defend a "diddly" lost cause. Ehem, speaking of lost causes: wasn't the Confederacy a lost cause as well. With and without the slavery question. And yes, Mr. Governor Barbour, it was a grave omission on Gov. McDonnell's part to not even mention the evil of American slavery. Gov. McDonnell sure saw his mistake and apologized for it. How come you think, that you have to set him straight? Nit !!

    April 12, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  7. get real

    Haley Barbour is a nit! Enjoy your Confederacy Appreciation Month. Oh, the good ole days when we could sell people.

    April 12, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  8. Tony in Maine

    Have another swig of bourbon, Haley.

    Gotta love how the Republicans, who should be on the verge of a good year, keep shooting themselves in the foot. Between the Tea Baggers, an inept executive director, and the good ole boys like Barbour, the Party of No could repeat last election.

    April 12, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  9. Pepou

    This event is abject and shows that racism unfortunately is alive and well in this country.

    April 12, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  10. Canadian living amongst u

    Wow, just wow....

    Are all white people this callous and unfeeling?

    To all those that think this guy comments are okay, try this – close your eyes and imagine your mother or children being sold like cattle, beaten unmercifully and treated sub-human all for the sake of profits.

    The US has a disgusting history of abusing and murdering people with brown and dark brown skin.

    Where are the reparations? 40 acres and a mule.

    April 12, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  11. gregsconnection

    Funny they are. The President and a very Democrat Secretary of State both fully support the slave trade of 2010. Look it up on the State Dept web site. Most of the Middle East (Kuwait where I live working for the US Govt) are Tier-3 Trafficking In Persons violators. By US Federal law the ONLY thing the USA can do here is provide humanitarian aid without an annual President exception to policy. It really does not matter if the USA first black President singed the wavior or not. If he did his signature is indirectly leading to deaths in Kuwait. If he didn't the slaves the do all the work here are still being raped, tossed out 8th floor windows with hands and feet tied (officially sucide), and never paid after they get here and their passports are taken away 'for safe keeping'. Come on America wake up and look at where the USA is headed...

    April 12, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  12. BReal123

    I am enjoying the GOP backpedaling trying to say that this is a post racial country and we should not be eyeing these issues as concerns anymore. When people are standing in the Capitol area shouting racial slurs at our president instead of just a healthy criticism I believe that post racial is not in our vocabulary as a nation yet. Just my opinion.

    April 12, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  13. Oompa Loompa

    I think what he's saying is it isn't necessary in this modern day to have to provide the post script that slavery occurred in this country. The hoopla regarding the omission is diddly. You can't go through a single day in this life where someone in a prominent position is offended because another doesn't publically add a post script about the plight of blacks in America for the past 200 years. Geez people, at what point does this become history and we all move on? What do the rest of us owe you?

    April 12, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  14. sensible Cape Coral FL

    To disguise the institution of slavery as heritage when in fact it is
    the expression of greed and hatred is beyond any understanding. What has become of the Republican Party?

    April 12, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  15. andy

    democrats are idiots. They contiune to push stupid issues like this while they destroy the country and send us deeper in debt. They hide behind stuff like this so no one will pay attention to their inability to do any real work in Washington.

    April 12, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  16. dj WAZU

    McDonnell apologizes for initial proclamation and added
    "The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed," McDonnell said last week.

    Common sense in not so common now is it? Especially in the republican party!

    April 12, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  17. Accountability In American Society

    Haley Barbour is trying to blow the "dog whistle".

    There are SOME white Americas, primarily in the south, that are angry that they have a black president. There are some white Americans that go even further and do not ACCEPT REALITY and deny that Barack Obama is an American or a legitamately elected President.

    Haley Barbour is attempting to curry favor with those people with this statement. He thinks that this support for the Confederacy will not alienate the bulk of the other white Americans and will be able to win their votes by way of his other political statements ... the other lies he'll tell about the President's accomplishments ... "government takeover of healthcare .... weakening America on nuclear weapons, etc."

    I call on all clear thinking Americans to recognize him for what he is and defeat him when he tries to run for ANY NATIONAL office.

    Racists in America are already in the minority and soon, America will more brown, black & yellow than it is white. When that occurs, politicians like Barbour will think twice about making such statements because the harm to them will be obvious. Right now, they think they can slip this one past us. They are wrong.

    April 12, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  18. Dano

    Democrats – of which I am one – must stop being the PC police and calling people 'insensitve' any time someome says (or doesn't say) some minor borderline word that may possible offend some group. It's one of the issues that conservatives use against them that resounds with the average American.

    That being said, I still can't understand why the southern states are so stuck in the past. No matter how they may try to portray it (state's rights, mint juleps, cotton farming, etc...) confederate history is always going to stand for slavery, civil war, and secession from the USA. The war is over (yes Bubba it's true!), the North won, and we are one nation. There is not a person alive today who had any connection to the confederacy, so why not just let it slide into history?

    April 12, 2010 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  19. djb

    what do you expect from an over the hill, fat southern republican man who is clearly not a student of history? a blubbering old fool who still does not get that the world has changed, that the old south is gone forever. very sad.

    April 12, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  20. Andrew

    And the GOP wonders why they have a disconnect to a lot of the U.S. population and why they are often thought of as racists in many parts of the country. It's because of their stupid attitudes that things shouldn't bother people and "what's the big deal? why is everyone getting so worked up about things?" I was a registered Republican and I voted for Reagan and the first President Bush but I just could not stand these stupid attitudes that just holds everybody back.

    April 12, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  21. Jerry - Florida

    What would you expect from Democrats? They are trying to so desperately redeem themselves that they will use any excuse to try and regain the graces and confidence of the American voters. Including claiming to be threatened because of their idiotic policy decisions. However, American voters are not as stupid as our elected officials think we are.

    Being a life-long Democrat I can't believe I am writing this blog. But that is how a majority of Americans feel about the irresponsible and reprehensible behavior of our Democrat elected officials.

    Pay back will be real sweet!!!

    April 12, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  22. Seattle Sue

    Mr. Barbour the Governor of one of the poorest states in the union and he doesn't want health care for Mississippi citizens. I think he would love to go back to slavery. What a jerk!

    April 12, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  23. lila

    Gosh,, the GOP needs to get these guys away from the camera. I mean.. they GOP has a huge diversity gap in terms of race. The GOP is the party of old or fat and most likely uneducated white people. The old white guys are not going to be around that much longer. Don't let them poison the water so that younger people of different race get such a bad first impression of the party that they write them off for life.
    The GOP needs to get the bitter racist under control in there party. And there is no question of the racism. The GOP can try and act innocent and like it's the democrats trying to make them look racist... but there comes a point where that does not work. The GOP is full to the gills with old white Southern racist. That's just a fact.

    April 12, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  24. Briana the college student

    Barbour's an idiot. He and any else who thinks that keeping slavery alive wasn't a motive to the south seceding. Alexander Hamilton Stephens the vice president of the Confederacy even said that slavery was the cornerstone to the Confederacy.

    April 12, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  25. John in WV

    Mr. Barbour also called himself a "fat red-neck". I don't know of many red-necks that care anything about our Afro-American brothers and sisters. Barbour also said it was unconstitutional to force Americans to buy health insurance. What about the home and auto insurance we are forced to buy in order to secure loans, own a home and drive a car? Barbour also mentioned the cost of medicaid to states. Why is it OK to provide medicaid to those who won't work but not OK to help those who work for little but at least are trying to help themselves?

    April 12, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
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