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. Mike

    As much as I am not happy with the democrats, I can never get myself to vote for the so cold conservative Republicans. Most southern Republicans are completely out of touch with reality and are often closet racists!

    April 12, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  2. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    So it's kinda like crowing about all of the accomplishments made by the Nazis before WWII and failing to mention that they killed millions in the process, give us a break.

    April 12, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  3. Doug,lib jersey

    Sorry, the party that is talking about murdering the governor of New Jersey is never going to be the moral authority on anything.

    Besides, if libs cared about equality then they wouldn't look to take away the ideological freedom that they deny minorities.

    Slavery is the opposite of freedom, republicans want complete freedom for all American, Democrats are against it.

    April 12, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  4. john u

    Seems like slavery would fit right into the Republican's "states righst" promotion as well as their 'magic of the markets' beliefs quite well. Plus slaves never form pesky unions to demand pensions or OSHA investigations......

    April 12, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  5. JoAnn

    Ever since Pres Obama was elected the "good 'ol boys' club s coming back to surface...Do they want to really take up an issue so sensative to African Americans...remember the Black Libertion Party...is this what "these" people want to start up again!!!

    April 12, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  6. Brook

    Republicans... the Party of Hate.

    April 12, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  7. Publius13

    We have always known that the institution of slavery was a catastrophe for the enslaved Americans and their progeny. President Carter told us for the first time that it was also catastrophic for white Americans. The continuing inability of McDonnell, Barbour, and others of their ilk to understand the magnitude of the immorality of slavery and its impact on this nation shows that President Carter was correct. Southern partisans, apologists, and "lost cause" enthusiasts are apparently unable to empathize like normal humans or to think like normal Americans in the 20th Century, much less the 21st.

    April 12, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  8. W. Carpenter

    just another outrageous comments by Republicans...sad

    April 12, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  9. hiss

    Odd then that the original existence of slavery was perpetuated by the democratic party...

    April 12, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  10. Charles

    First off, President Obama has Confederate Ancestors. Secondly, the DNC comments are nothing more than politically motiavted attacks on a GOP governor.

    April 12, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  11. Kenneth

    hmmm ... Mississippi ... slavery ... doesn't amount to diddly. Can you say the undertones of racism are rapidly rising to the forefront of misguided thought? Racist people are finding it more difficult to refrain from blurting out comments that show their true thought processes. The good ol boy network is crumbling and there are those who attempt to maintain their status by any means necessary. Politicians with this mentality should be removed from office simply because they do not possess the mindset to lead today's society to the next level. Separatism is what has held this country back and only unification can move us forward.

    April 12, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  12. Teena

    Of course these Sothern republicans would say slavery doesn't amount to didly–they would love to start the practice over if they could!

    April 12, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  13. Jim

    Governor Barbour is just a fat old white GOPer guy aka "nit" from a backward state doing what irrelevant people do to justify their narrowmindedness.

    April 12, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  14. Give me a break!

    I'm not alone in saying that very many from the Democratic Party are FED UP!

    But who we're fed up with may surprise you. Or maybe not.

    The attitude of the Democrats is appalling to many of us. The Democrats are simultaneously acting like both bullies and crybabies.

    The entire ruckus about the so-called *omission* of slavery, and now with the Democrats attacking both McDonnell and Barbour is infantile. Anyone with sense can see the reasoning behind the so-called omission. Obama's early statement against McDonnell only serves to separate the country further. It's no different than Obama's reported census whereby he had the opportunity to join our country together by filing as both African-American and Caucasian (which he *is* after all). Instead he reportedly chose to file as an African-American only.

    Either the Democrats truly have become the bullies they appear to be, else they are truly pinned in the corner with the full acknowledgement that they will lose big-time in the fall. They appear to be making political decisions solely to keep the large numbers of young and African-American supporters solidly on their side, rather than using their power to unite all of us, and truly make us post-race.

    Sadly, I have lost all the respect I have had for the Democrats, and I have been a steadfast supporter for over 25 years. Their political games are tiring.

    April 12, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  15. Dumbasrocks [R]s

    You gotta love how these neo-morons, like Barbour, repeatedly show in public how bereft they are of any intelligence. The real issue is the number of people who actually support this regressive behavior from the "new" GOP. The old conservative GOP is long gone...what remains is that reactionary fringe (that's allways been there) who, while beating their chests about American patriotism, support and celebrate efforts to defeat the ideals of America and the enlightenment with both their policies and deeds. That such a populace of deluded hypocrits are allowed to take part in our "body politic" is a testament to the LIBERAL nature of our constitution.

    April 12, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  16. v

    hmmm Barbour, I am wondering. What makes a Republican? hmmm Barbour, I wouldn't want to be a republican, if they are all like Dick,B,Barbour.

    April 12, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  17. Bill NY

    If you are not a minority or person of color (or gay)you will never understand the absolute trauma associated with persecution and discrimination. Blacks in this country have suffered both since the inception of the US. Hundreds of years of slavery mean diddly.
    The mind set in this country has become such that at the moment I find myself wondering when they will have a mass lynching in the US.
    This country was founded on murder(native americans) and slavery and if we do not admit it and come to terms with our history we are doomed to failure.

    April 12, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  18. james

    More evidence that the republican mindset is that of a white supremacist. It's not PC to be a racist but it seems that these days, the republicans just can't hide their true colors no matter how hard they try. I think that inside the heart of most republicans is an angry and frightened person. One who is absolutely livid that there is a black man running this country....... I also feel that deep in their hearts they know that he is doing a very good job of it too and it is causing them some very personal conflict.

    April 12, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  19. Tom from Los Angeles

    The race card – the ultimate Democratic rebuttal to anything

    April 12, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  20. pat regan

    I'm from Rhode Island and the whole idea of a Confederate History Month would never occur to me.

    April 12, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  21. Eddie

    I don't know about the rest of the best, but for this Independent, I a sick and tired of how every time the Democrats in control get in any political "hot water" they toss out their favorite smoke screen.......play the race card!
    As far as I am concerned, the Democratic party now in control incites more racial tension than the Republicans ever thought of beginning!

    April 12, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  22. Nico

    he was obviously talking about the omission of the mention of slavery as "not being diddly," not the institution itself. This is a cheap shot by the DNC.

    April 12, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. harvey

    thanks, Haley, for demonstrating once again to any American with a brain why the Republican Party and their friends in the Tea Party are racist hate-mongerers. I guess it's diddly that you have that Confederate flag on your office wall, just like so many Southern business establishments. that flag, Haley, is a symbol of hatred, born in a time when the families of many Americans were slaves. that flag became synonymous with white hoods, cross-burning, church fires, Bull Connor, and whites-only. you, McDonnell, and your other friends still believe that the South will rise again. states rights, Tenth Amendment movements, Tea Party, gun rights, they all speak of hatred, domination, fear, and abuse. you and your friends just aren't blatantly racist like Bull and George Wallace (oh, and don't forget that Great Southerner, Strom Thurmond). you and your friends are racists of the worst kind, stealth racists. I sincerely hope you run for President, so we can find out how you managed to go to law school without earning a bachelor's degree, and how your lobbying firm which reputedly was the most powerful in the country advised the tobacco industry during the time the CEOs of the industry were lying to Congress.

    April 12, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  24. joe

    It's most disturbing that these kind of things do not shocks me anymore. I see Southern Republican and almost expect these opinions. My south is not theirs.

    April 12, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  25. Carmen, Miami FL

    McDonnell finally decided to do the right thing, but only after completely ignoring slavery and giving a not-so-subtle wink to certain groups that romanticize the Confederacy and the South’s role in the Civil War, completely ignoring the history of the war and the horrible aftermath. Barbour, meanwhile, is a partisan hack who spouts idiocies that normal people would consider completely stupid and distasteful. Needless to say, they both behaved like typical Republican politicians. Useless idiots.

    April 12, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
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