Haley Barbour is an exceedingly smart politician with a finely-tuned political ear. This is evidenced in part by his decision not to run for president.
Few national politicians go as far down the road toward running for president as Haley Barbour has gone, then step aside (detailed plans for a campaign, including a five-day announcement trip starting on May 2, a $55 million budget with $35 million scheduled for five early states, large fundraising events scheduled, top staff interviewed, etc.).
Of course, it’s likely that we’ll never know for certain why he’s chosen not to run. I have a drinking glass that says a man has two reasons why he does something: a good reason — and the real reason.
However, I suspect that on a shortlist of real reasons why Gov. Barbour opted out of the presidential race is that he realized his basic philosophy of government and of governing are out of sync with the Republican primary voters in 2011 and 2012.
President Obama, America’s financial crises, and the tea party, all arriving at about the same time, have radically changed American politics for the foreseeable future. If this were the 1990s and America wanted a strong, competent caretaker-president, Haley Barbour would be the man.
Today, however, most Americans see people like Barbour (one of America’s largest, most powerful and successful Washington lobbyists) as a major reason we find ourselves in our current financial pickle. For most of the last 30 years, if you wanted to expand government, spend more taxpayer money, regulate business so that your Fortune 500 company received an advantage over your business competitor — Haley Barbour was your man who would make it happen.
Today’s voters better understand that America’s ruling class has used and abused their positions in power to advantage themselves and their friends at the expense of the rest of us.
So, at the end of many months (if not years) of exploring a presidential race, I suspect Barbour decided in part against running because in today’s America, he recognized that people feel betrayed by the ruling class and want to return to the vision of our country’s Founders of a small, constitutional government — that is not Haley Barbour.
Advice to the other ruling-class Republican presidential wannabes: Ask not for whom the bells toll, for they toll for thee. The times, they have changed.
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