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. A. Goodwin

    We would not be having these discussions if people like McDonnell didn't elevate Confederate History, and while doing so never even considering what that entailed.

    Republican's wonder why so many non-Republican's consider this a racist party – but when you have leaders of such party BLIND to their overt behavior...what is the rest of us to believe? The fact of the matter, is that within the last year we've all seen what side the Republican's were on when it came to race – when Judge Sotomayer was being held up for virtually nothing, Republican's didnt' think their actions would hurt, say, hispanic people. When at Tea Party events (majority being Repulican's) we saw our president depicted as a Witch Doctor – what were the rest of us to believe. And now this? If they are not a racist party – then they need to start using their brains and think about the lack of sensitivity that their actions have shown.

    April 12, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  2. th

    Republicans. Are all the same. That is why they vote against everything President Obama tries to do. They think they are above everyone else but are nothing but racist.

    April 12, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  3. Steve (the real one)

    We should never forget the past but we cannot afford to continue to live in the past. McDonnell apologized. Some like Donna Brazile accepted, some did not! No one who is a alive today was either slave or master! Let's move on! Like I said , let"s not forget the past but let's not live in it either! I'll bet somewhere in the heritage of the DNC members are some ugly things as well. Shall we condemn them too! In fact, lets just condemn everybody and their ancestry. Then maybe we can move on to the present!

    April 12, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  4. rob

    What do you expect from the white gov from deep south. Haley probably winces that he has to share credentials with Bobby (the pretend indian), Steele, the token black in the republican party ......and of course Sarah ...the woman!

    God things are not ging well in this country for poor Haley

    April 12, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  5. Bertina

    White crackers have to make up their mind which century they want to live in.

    April 12, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  6. Red by Choice

    Dem's are nothing but a bunch of race baters making an issue where there isn't one. Republicans didn't invent slavery nor do they perpetuate it. The Confederacy was not just about slavery though there are those who try to remake history to make it seem so. Bigotry knows no skin color and blaming whites today for what happened 160 years ago is just prepetuating the victimhood and excuse making of failed black leadership.

    Black community, find some credible leaders. All Jesse and Al do is sit around looking for a reason to be offended so they can make a buck and get their faces on TV. They are a couple of sleaze bag shake down artists.

    April 12, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  7. DJK

    Yeah, if I were the democrat party, I'd try to make everyone forget it was my party that supported it!!!!

    April 12, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  8. 8 Years of “trickle down economics” has only left a wet spot on working America's shoes!

    The "performance" bar is pretty low for a fat redneck racist governing the poorest state in the country.

    Mississippi is the lowest of all 50 states by many if not all positive measuring standards.

    You want the RNC to adhere to those standards?

    Or worse yet, "my" country?

    April 12, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  9. SkiDoc

    Barbour is spot on! Southern states have every right to remember the war dead of the Confederacy. Where is it written that in every war memorial there must be a complete list of issues accompanying? The Dems are so pathetic after the health care and financial fiascos that they will grasp at anything to take away focus on their sorry selves. November can't come soon enough!

    April 12, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  10. JLW in Indian Springs,Al.

    What else would anyone expect Haley Barbour to say ?? He is just another Republican Neanderthal who doesn't get it. These people are pitiful but don't know it.

    April 12, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  11. Kendrick Alfonso

    The way I read into this, it sounds as if Governor Barbour is saying that it's not an issue, because everyone knows slavery was wrong. Because everyone knows that, it was a moot point in not mentioning it – basically, it was such a given (that everyone knows slavery is wrong) that it didn't need said.

    April 12, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  12. Tim from NC

    Some have said that the stimulus hasn't saved any jobs, but here is a case where at least one job was saved. Oregon State University Athletic Director Bob DeCarolis was considering firing their basketball coach, Craig Robinson, after an 8-11 start (2-5 in the Pac 10 conference). When word of this reached Washington, Undersecretary of Education Martha Kanter was dispatched to Corvallis with $17 million in stimulus money for the university. Craig Robinson's job is safe for this year. For those of you unfamiliar with Coach Robinson, he just so happens to be Michelle Obama's brother. Just a coincidence I'm sure! Wonder what you liberals would say if this were Bush's family??????

    April 12, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  13. JohnRJ08

    Barbour's comments were among the most stupendously idiotic I've ever heard uttered by a public official of either party. Here's a fat white man from the south defending a fellow admirer of the Confederacy. It's unbelievable. These words are going to haunt Barbour for the rest of his life, and rightly so. He may have gained some traction with a few right-wing bigots in his party, but the vast majority of the country now know exactly where he's coming from and will not forget it.

    April 12, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  14. John Sivills

    Wow...Mississippi has McDonnell's back. How far can you drop, Virginia? There is nothing wrong with noting the Confederacy; but to omit a principle cause of the civil war and reduce it to "diddly" is bad. Black people were part of the south then too you know – they for the most part did not get the glory part, Governor Barbour.

    April 12, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  15. Nurse

    You dem's are really grabing at anything to stay afloat . 2010 is here.

    April 12, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  16. Steve Westman

    It goes back to Nixon's "Southern strategy,"launched after LBJ and the Civil Rights act. This is why Republicans are the party of rich, white people, and Palin and her buddies, the Tea Partiers. Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt weep for what their party has become.

    April 12, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  17. Larry

    And I though elephants never forget.

    April 12, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  18. Sean Brown

    Just as the Republican party is regaining it's footing, even building some momentum, a couple of ideologs throw a wrench into the mechanism. – How typical.

    Political leadership is about serving all of your constituants...Not just the ones that you agree with.

    Perhaps a Governor from a Northern state can now issue a proclamation recognizing that the Confederacy lost the war and, quite frankly, didn't really fight that well.

    "We hereby recognize that the Confederate soldiers turned tail ran as we approached their Southern stronghold. The honorable Confederate generals, having come to rely on slave labor, didn't comprehend that no one was their do do the heavy lifting."

    That could be followed up by another Southern proclamation that "The resources available to the South were inferior to those available to the North, otherwise, the outcome might have been different."

    Don't worry Republicans...God is on your side. I'm sure he told you.

    April 12, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  19. Linc

    To say that it is a Republican mindset in not completely accurate. Remember, these people were die hard Democrats until Lyndon Johnson, a Southern Democrat, pushed through the Civil Rights Act of 1965 which caused all of the good 'ol boys to overnight become Republicans. No, I think you mean an ignorant, racist mindset.

    April 12, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  20. Chris Temple

    The list just keeps on growing; racists, bigots, "The Shadow" (NYT), and now slavery. And they accuse conservatives of wanting to turn back the clock. I read my Bible and one of the most evil things you can be in that context is a "false accuser", something the Democrats have problem doing.

    April 12, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  21. Jarhead

    How can some knucklehead with a long history of having one of the nations highest poverty and education rates be considered a leader? He got one thing right "fat Redneck".

    April 12, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  22. 77 Gamblers

    Oh for pete's sake. It was a long time ago. It was more than a bad thing, it was atrocious but it was long time ago. My parents, grandparents and great grandparents never owned a slave, we were poor people scrabbling in the dirt. The father of my great grandfather was brought over here as an indentured servant. The more you whine and harp about it, the deafer the becomes. We're tired of it.

    If you want to pitch a fit about slavery, start a group that is against the slavery going on today!!! Women are sold into sex trades, sons/daughters are sold in Africa today for food. Get your dander up about these travesties.

    April 12, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  23. Dave

    I think that both parties have somthing good to offer this country. The recent actions of the GOP show the serious character flaws that many Americans can no longer stomach. From these outragous comments and the infidelity, not to mention their attempts to defend these actions make me wonder how anybody could accept what they say at face value.

    April 12, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  24. musician

    Gov Barbour is your prototypical good ol` boy, just saying what his 'constitchients' all believe to be true.... the South was fighting a just cause....

    April 12, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  25. El Gordo

    The "Southern Strategy" was invented by Richard Nixon and perfected by Ronald Reagan. Its central concept is to ally the Republican Party with racists in the south who would prefer to return to a segregated society. The Republicans never come out and say "Hey, racists! Vote Republican! We'll oppose all that Affirmative Action crap! You can trust us! We're on your side, but we're going to call it 'States' Rights' (wink, wink)." But, we all know what they mean.

    Barbour and others are telling their core supporters in the racist group "Hey, we're not backing down about the slavery thing. The South shall rise again. Yeeeeeehaaaaaaaaaahhhhh."

    Of course, Republicans do absolutely nothing for the racists who vote for them, just like they do absolutely nothing for the Fundamentalists who vote for them.

    Conservatism: They Don't Call It 'The Big Con' For Nothing.

    April 12, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
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