The Barbour Story the City Is Talking About | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

The Barbour Story the City Is Talking About

Forget my in-depth story this week about Haley Barbour, Tom Delay and the nation's largest nursing-home chains. Everyone in Jackson is talking about this Washington Post story last week about Barbour—especially its emphasis on the Barbours' family drinking. It seems that Marsha was drinking from "a tumbler of Jack Daniels" and Haley finished off his sixth glass of white wine during his interview. I don't know how they do it. I can't drink more than two beers these days without taking two aspirin before I go to bed. Wow. ‘Course I'm not from the Delta.

The most telling part of the piece, however, is when Barbour talks about Katrina being "anti-politics," as if this is the first time he's figured out that politics is actually about people, not deal-making, money and winning. At least that's the way I read it:

Barbour, 57, has many "drinking buddies." And has smoked "some great cigars" with Rudy Giuliani and shared a "lotta laughs, lotta good times" with George W. Bush, or "Junior" as he used to call him. He goes back to the Young Republicans with Karl Rove, the Reagan days with Andrew Card, and is well-known among an A-list of senators, congressmen, governors and lobbyists. "Haley's got more friends than anyone I know," says lobbyist Don Fierce.

Which counts for . . . exactly what when you're dealing in body counts?

It would seem, on the surface, an odd fit: the consummate Republican Party animal comforting widows in front of wrecked homes. Katrina killed 221 of Barbour's constituents, destroyed 68,000 houses and turned 28,000 square miles, or 60 percent of the state, into a major disaster area.

"This deal is like anti-politics," says Barbour, who often refers to Katrina and its ravages as "this deal." "You just feel like people are dependent on you. Maybe it's supposed to be like this all the time. But not like this."

A burly former high school football player, Barbour prizes the rituals of good ol' boy bonding—the bawdiness, bellowing and back-slapping that lubricate so many of the friendships he's collected. Which, again, might seem frivolous right now. Except that shared history comes in handy in times like these, and Barbour might have more shared history with more well-placed people than any governor in the country.

Oh, and by the way, also read the nursing home piece. It's important, even if I do say so myself. (And thanks to Ann Williams for research on it.)

Previous Comments

ID
171874
Comment

This part is pretty interesting, too, in light of all the lobbyist talk this week: Specifically, the benefits of having Haley Barbour's friends -- most of whom have never met Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco. Within hours of the storm, old friend Sam Adcock, the head lobbyist for European aerospace firm EADS, was sending five helicopters and a hospital airplane for Mississippi officials to use in recovery efforts. Another friend, lobbyist David O'Brien, was donating 100 satellite phones so the state's leaders could communicate while many of their counterparts in Louisiana were stuck with inoperable cell phones. Barbour also received a call from A.D. "Pete" Correll, the CEO of timber giant Georgia-Pacific and a former lobbying client. Correll offered his firm's services to help salvage storm-damaged timber. He also agreed to reopen two Georgia-Pacific facilities in Mississippi, which will employ about 500 workers. One of the striking images from President Bush's first post-Katrina visit to the Gulf Coast was of the president gravitating to Barbour. Barbour was RNC chairman when Bush was first elected governor of Texas, sat on Bush's presidential campaign exploratory committee and has strenuously avoided criticizing the Bush administration's response to Katrina. "When he got to me he cried," Barbour says of his hug with Bush, in Mobile, Ala. "Tears just ran down his cheeks. It made me cry." Barbour is not a starry-eyed idealist or a politician compelled to mention his religion at every chance. He generally eschews public self-reflection, the feel-your-pain deal. "I'm just not that kind of guy," he says, responding to a Barbara Walters-ish inquiry about whether Katrina has "changed" him. But Barbour was clearly shaken by the storm. He kept saying, "Pray for us," says Republican lobbyist Ed Rogers, Barbour's longtime friend and business partner. "We've never been 'pray for us' kind of guys."

Author
ladd
Date
2005-10-20T15:35:35-06:00
ID
171875
Comment

I should have said "... in light of all the CRONY talk this week..." You get the feeling people are suddenly started to pay attention attention to all the cigar-smoking deal-making and the implications ... for stuff like Mississippi's nursing homes.

Author
ladd
Date
2005-10-20T15:39:34-06:00
ID
171876
Comment

Hey, what you sayin' bout DELTA PEOPLE ? ;)

Author
Lori G
Date
2005-10-21T15:07:28-06:00
ID
171877
Comment

This is the best part of the article concerning their behavior...at least I thought. Not long ago, the governor smoked a cigar, came to bed and tried to kiss her, "and I almost threw up," Marsha says. "I had to go brush my teeth at 1 o'clock in the morning." She yawns. "This new job of mine is making me really tired," she says, insisting on a kiss from the gov before she heads to bed. She presses her finger to her lips and he obliges. "Go ahead, smoke a cigar," she says, pouring herself a tumbler of Jack to go. As Marsha turns to exit, the governor slaps her on the butt. Awww...look at that. They LURVE one another.

Author
Lori G
Date
2005-10-21T15:23:46-06:00
ID
171878
Comment

How many tumblers o'Jack would it take for you to go to bed with him? Cigar or no cigar.

Author
Rex
Date
2005-10-21T15:50:09-06:00
ID
171879
Comment

Rex I would absolutely LOVE to engage you in this conversation. But, I can pretty much tell you that I would get into trouble if I said what I wanted to say. Let's just say, I figure she's been desensitized after years of marriage. There should be fifths involved.

Author
Lori G
Date
2005-10-21T16:02:52-06:00
ID
171880
Comment

That's really a cop-out, as after anything approaching a fifth, the Guv's attack would certainly be, shall we say, somewhat less than potent. The experience would be more Gettysburg than Bull Run (which should be more appropriately referenced as "Man-assas" in this context).

Author
allred
Date
2005-10-21T16:06:58-06:00
ID
171881
Comment

Well then Bucky, how much would it take for you to see Haley in nothing but his undies and dress socks? I'll pause while you relieve the contents of your stomach.

Author
Lori G
Date
2005-10-21T16:11:17-06:00
ID
171882
Comment

Hey, what you sayin' bout DELTA PEOPLE ? ;) Ali, I'm disappointed. It took you a whole day to respond to that barb I placed just for you. ;-P Otherwise, let's not get too personal, all. I must say, though, that having seven glasses of white wine (him) and tumblers of Jack Daniels (her) in front of a Washington Post reporters means that you don't care who knows how much you drink. It's really quite remarkable. I suspect by the time I'm pushing 60, I won't be able to have two sips of alcohol without a hangover. I think that's the part that impresses me the most: their apparent tolerance for such heavy amount of alcohol, at their ages. Wow.

Author
ladd
Date
2005-10-21T16:19:49-06:00
ID
171883
Comment

I don't want to blow my bourbon drinkin' persona. But, I'm right there with you on the hangover factor with age. So much so that I have recently begun a moritorium on drinks on a "school night". I only make exceptions when the drinks are FREE. 'Course, I'm still a lot younger than you....;P The very fact they can handle all that alcohol and still wake up and function and not act like complete asses is....oh, wait....NOW I GET IT! Delta people rock. :)

Author
Lori G
Date
2005-10-21T16:29:42-06:00
ID
171884
Comment

But it does go a long way towards explaining certain policy decisions! Cheers, TH, who gets a little wobbly after one glass of white wine on an empty stomach and who, after six, might actually vote for Haley.

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-10-21T16:32:48-06:00
ID
171885
Comment

I only make exceptions when the drinks are FREE. That was a plug for WC DONS who GIVE US FREE BEER AND ROCKS IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE BECAUSE OF THAT GREAT DECISION. Tom- I thought the same thing. After six glasses of wine, there would be body parts exposed to the public that have NEVER, and I repeat NEVER, seen the cold night air....course there was that one time in college...

Author
Lori G
Date
2005-10-21T16:35:41-06:00
ID
171886
Comment

Hmmm... That's odd. I read that last paragraph and suddenly forgot what we were talking about. Ethnic conflict in the Balkans, was it? Social stratification in the Arab world? One concern I have is that after six glasses of wine, I could actually wake up to find body parts missing. Or Haley Barbour in his socks and underwear, and a ring on my finger. With an elephant on it. I don't know what I'd do drunk, but considering what I do when I'm sober, I'm scared to find out. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2005-10-22T00:43:59-06:00
ID
171887
Comment

BTW, happy 58th birthday greetings go out to my fellow Libran Gov. Barbour today. Cheers.

Author
ladd
Date
2005-10-22T16:56:30-06:00
ID
171888
Comment

BTW, our little Barbour celebration last night at Del Sol was absolutely lovely. Beautiful place, wonderful food and service, and some fine wine. I did not have seven glasses, however, and we did toast the governor. All in all, a fine night out in Jackson.

Author
ladd
Date
2005-10-23T12:24:25-06:00

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