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. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Throwback rednecks like McDonnell and Barbour are a political curiosity for sheer stupidity, but their positions on racial issues are widely held in the heartland where ordinary non-urban citizens are sick of hearing blacks whine about how injustices of over a century ago are still impeding their progress in American society. There's some truth in that.

    April 12, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  2. mabel floyd

    was anyone surprised that it was a repub gov that issured such a stupid proclamation ? was anyone surprised that it was a rep gov that approved this horrible idea?

    April 12, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  3. The Voice

    This whole "April Confederate Month" would be like the Germans today recognizing "Nazi Month"

    Are you kidding me! McDonnell is a sick oppressor and only the idiots in Virgina would vote for him. We knew he was a women oppressor, and now this.

    Virginians need a reality check!

    April 12, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  4. Kitchen Police

    The RNC lizard brains are flirting with fire. Who in their right mind would want to pay homage to the darkest period in US history. May God bless the soul of Abraham Lincoln.

    April 12, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  5. John E Lexington KY

    Barbour is typically crass, backwards, smug Republican hack. Hope he gets the presidential nomination and loses a la Goldwater.

    April 12, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  6. Ellid

    The Republican party has spent the last forty years sowing the wind. Now it's time to reap the whirlwind.

    April 12, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  7. Jim

    Once again, I am ashamed of my party. I'm a Democrat, but this attack is ridiculous. I guess the national "leaders" of the party are so desperate in fear of the November elections that they will latch onto anything. Neither of these guys said (or didn't say) anything wrong. Political correctness is a disease, but failing to mention slavery wasn't even politically incorrect. The Virginia governor was trying to honor the dead – over 620,000 died in the "deadliest war in American history" – including some 30% of ALL southern white males between the ages of 18 and 40. Those are numbers that justifiably deserve honoring. Gov. Barbour's statement was just that slavery did not need to be mentioned in such a declaration. Aren't there enough public condemnations of slavery?

    April 12, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  8. TaBu

    Another attempt of white people to re-write history to cover the evils that they did. . Sorry, you cant erase the United States slavery and all that came with it. Not gonna let you forget.

    April 12, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  9. D

    I saw the interview . Gov Barbour was asked about "the tone of politics'. "Doesn't amount to diddly" was his reply to a question about the "the tone of politics". Isn't that correct Candy???

    April 12, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  10. An Independent

    We live in the United States of America. Those who started the Confederacy took up arms against the United States of America. There is really no more to be said or understood.

    We have a federal government that is charged with making policy that is best for the entire United States. It is not really sincere to believe that the Civil War was fought over anything but Slavery. If you want to turn that into an economic discussion it is easy. The south wanted to continue this practice of free labor by continuing to enslave African Americans. The southerners could not see past the discomfort of changing how they did business because they did not want to (those with money and land, about 10% of the total population) give up this easy way of life. With a few modifications and some morals they would have survived just fine (like now).

    The rich or and educated southerners convinced they rest of the southerners that their way of life would be forever changed and freeing the slaves would have a very negative impact on the population. The other 90% of southerners bought into this argument and all the anger began and they took up arms. People then began to make the argument that the states should have rights (remember this was about the economics of slavery) The right to do what exactly? We know the answer and it was to own slaves. The Mississippi and Virginia Governors may try and rewrite history but we should not let them. This is not a matter of opinion, these are facts. They can not choose their own facts. To leave out the real reason for the confederacy would be dishonest. To not mention slavery in a proclamation that should have never have been written or published in the first place is telling and it does amount to more the diddy.

    As a reported news source or organization, CNN should not let them choose their own facts. Doing anything less than calling the Governors or any one else out on this issue is irresponsible.

    April 12, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  11. The Voice

    How about if we sell Barbour and let him work in the cotton fields for free and then his owners, throw him in shack, whip himup and lets see if its "diddly".

    I'll tell you he'd be singing to a different tune within a few days.

    April 12, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  12. TCM

    The DNC's full of racists...playing the race card at every turn when they cannot find a reasonable position to stand on. In fact, the DNC and liberal dems in general are keeping blacks in bondage through their relentless entitlement programs. They count on keeping blacks poor, and just enough survive on...and throw in some "hope," just in time to get their vote again. In essence, they survive politically by oppressing their voter base. Now, with all this confederate talk...they have a mask to hide behind...acting like they're really there to support the black man, however, they're the biggest racists of all; blacks oppressing blacks...sickening

    April 12, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  13. mother in Pa

    It is time to stop fighting the civil war and move ON! Drop the race card and accept that those of us living had nothing to do with those that enslaved. Stop punishing everyone for that period of history. Please move forward and accept what is and the person not based on skin color. The more the race4 card and its issues are forced on people, the more racism will become a part of all our lives. White people do suffer from reverse racisim too. Try being a white person working for minorities in the south.

    April 12, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  14. Prathap Rajamani

    Thanks for the interesting post.

    April 12, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  15. johnnyhouse

    I guess it will no longer be acceptable to honor your war dead unless you win the war. Blood is the same color world wide.

    April 12, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  16. Charlie from the North

    I can't see why they would stay off the topic of Slavery. It was the last time the national Republican Party was right about any social issue. You would think they would celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation. Or do they now see it as an unfunded Federal mandate?

    April 12, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  17. barth

    what an idiot?this republican fools seems not to understand an atom of history.

    April 12, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  18. Ken in NC

    Here we have a Gov. that feels the selling of human beings in our history doesn't amount to diddly and we have The Tea Party on a RINO Hunt saying, “We need to purge the Republicans of the weaklings,” Sounds like another party of more than 60 years ago in Germany. They use words like "PURGE", "WEAKLINGS". If this country doesn't watch itself, we will end up like Hitler's Germany. We are headed that way at a high rate of speed with a combined Tea Party / The Republican Party as the Party of Hitler. They talk now about President Obama being a Hitler while they are themselves are headed more in that direction than any other group of people on earth.

    We are rapidly becoming that which we most hate on this earth.

    April 12, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  19. richard

    Excuse me Ms. Sevugan......the "americans" that vote republican already know that their leaders are racist. That's why they keep voting for them........they already "endorse" this kind of behaviour! I don't know a single repuglican that isn't racist.

    April 12, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  20. Karen L Reimer

    Impeach the Governors.

    April 12, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  21. Vet(DC)

    Almost daily the true colors of the Southern good old boys without their hoods are surfacing, I wonder why? Could it be a person in the white house who don't look like them has challenge their preceived superiority, my oh my, no matter how hard they try the hate continues to bubble to the top.

    April 12, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  22. henriettap

    Barbour,McDonnell,the Tea Partiers have all shown by statements and actions just how insensitive they are when it comes to race relations.Slavery is something that is a part of our Black history.I don't expect for them to understand that because we are not recognized in their history books,they have no knowledge of the contributions of the slaves and their descendants.If they do they have made sure that it is a well kept secret.We have been taught in our public schools as little of black history as they can get published in the learning materials for the school system, this only shows how ignorant and narrow minded some people really are.They have to realize that now we are not as simple minded as the think we are.

    April 12, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  23. GOP = "I hope he fails"

    Okay, I get it. He didn't mean to say that slavery doesn't amount to "didley." He was saying that the ommision of the slavery language in the proclomation didn't amount to didley.

    But here's the problem. That ommision of the language from the proclomation was clearly clearly clearly designed to appeal to bigots. Why else would you do it? It wasn't a failure to include the language, it was taking the extra effort to ommit the language. If it's intended to help tourism why would you call it "Conferate History Month," as opposed to "Civil War History Month?" Was intentionally ommiting slaverly language that was previously in the proclomation going to promote African-American tourism?

    This was a political stunt that was designed as a dog whistle for racists. To say otherwise is either dishonest or stupid.

    April 12, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  24. Mary

    So, let me understand this: A Republican Governor does not make mention of slavery (a part of history we all know existed already), apolgized for it and he is still being crucified in the media.

    The Democratic Vice President drops the f-bomb in front of the media and everyone makes it out to be the greatest thing ever. Printing shirts, etc. If it had been a republican dropping the f-bomb, he too would be crucified in the media.

    Everyone needs to chill out...

    April 12, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  25. Mike Mc

    Mr. Barbour can be summed up in one word: redneck

    April 12, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
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