A little while back Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour refused to discuss a Magnolia State license plate honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest, a noted Confederate general and the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
At the time, Barbour took a beating in the press and rightfully so. Regardless of Forrest's merits and achievements, it's impossible to overlook his affiliation with the KKK.
As a man considering entering the race for the GOP presidential nomination, Barbour should have been aware of how his silent support would play across the country.
Apparently, Barbour recently realized that he cast himself as a racist douche bag and he has since corrected matters by making the strange admission that slavery was in fact the cause of the Civil War. Politico reports:
But [Barbour] has now made a forthright declaration about the events swirling around what some Southerners still call the War of Northern Aggression. “Slavery was the primary, central, cause of secession,” Barbour told me Friday. “The Civil War was necessary to bring about the abolition of slavery,” he continued. “Abolishing slavery was morally imperative and necessary, and it’s regrettable that it took the Civil War to do it. But it did.”
Unfortunately, Barbour's declaration may have the opposite effect of what he intended. While his admission that slavery was the primary cause of the Civil War will make him somewhat more appealing to those who bristled at his silence during the license plate controversy, it will surely hurt Barbour's chances among those who firmly attest that slavery was not the primary cause of the War Between the States. And believe you me, there are plenty of those guys and gals right here in South Carolina.
They are the folks who tell you that nowhere in the S.C. Ordinance of Secession do the signers mention slavery, while overlooking the fact that the Declaration of Immediate Causes for Secession, the document detailing the reasons for secession, mentions with considerable enthusiasm that protecting slavery in the South and elsewhere is the signers' one true cause. (You can also check out newspaper clippings from the time to learn just how important maintaining slavery in the South and forcing it on the new states forming out west was for these gentlemen.)
Now, are there enough of these types in the Palmetto State to cost Barbour a victory in the South Carolina GOP primary in 2012? Well, that remains to be seen. If you ask me, I think Barbour's a tainted candidate because of his silence on the Forrest plate and this admission does little to help. I mean, what other candidate has to proclaim what the majority of America already knows: Slavery was the central issue that led to the Civil War?
And I think most SCGOPers will see it this way as well. They desperately want to win in 2012, and so they'll go with the candidate they feel stands the best chance against Barack Obama (read: Mitt Romney).