Do Tell, Haley Barbour

Politico reports on what Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction would have described as "a moment of clarity."

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour said on Friday that “stupid” and “offensive” comments made by one candidate can have a negative affect on others in the same political party.

“The comments they made were stupid comments, offensive comments and in today’s world when a candidate in one state says something, the negative effect of that can spill over to other candidates,” Barbour, the former GOP governor of Mississippi, said on CBS’s “CBS This Morning.”

Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, himself no stranger to the occasional brush with gaffe-induced controversy, is referring to 2012 candidates such as Missouri's Todd Akin and Indiana's Richard Mourdock–both of whom turned eminently winnable races for the GOP into defeats on the strength of their own verbal diarrhea.

Here in Colorado, as we've discussed many times, 2010 GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck, after defeating the more electable Jane Norton in a bitter primary, went on to narrowly lose a race that Republicans arguably should have won, in a GOP wave year, after numerous highly controversial statements about abortion and gays became his story.

The fact is, Gov. Barbour is absolutely right–Republicans in high profile races who verbally disqualify themselves can do tremendous damage. Not just in their own races, but to the party's brand as a whole, resulting in demonstrable impacts on totally unrelated races and far-flung locations.

And we'll take it a step further: it works the other way, too, although on an obviously smaller scale. Whenever, for example, Colorado Sen. Greg Brophy earns press for his latest sexist insult against Sandra Fluke, or an ailing fellow Senator, he also pollutes the Republican brand up the line with anyone who sees that news story. Voters in Colorado in 2012 went to the polls in many cases not knowing who their representative even was–but more did know who ex-Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty was, and they knew the story of the civil unions debacle in the House last May. And based on the results, we'd say they knew which House candidates not to vote for.

We've warned for years now that Republicans cannot write off the embarrassments in their party, at any level of elected office, as the harmless inevitable consequences of safe seats. They are not harmless. The lesson of Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, as with local embarrassment factories like Brophy and former Sen. Dave Schultheis, is that they do far greater damage to fellow Republicans than the political harm they cause themselves.

11 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Serenitynow says:

    What Mourdock said was not a gaffe. It’s what he believes. It’s what explains the GOP party platform position. Good for him for explaining why he’s against abortion in all situations. I am pro-choice but I have little respect for those that use the illogical (but politically expedient) out of saying that they are pro-life because they believe that any abortion is the killing of an innocent human life BUT that they believe in an exception for rape. If it is the killing of an innocent human life, then how can it be justified just because it resulted from rape. Those “pro-life” politicians are cowards.

    But back to the point, Barbour should know that its not a gaffe but rather just a politician being forced to explain why he takes a certain position. That position just happens to be rejected by me along with the majority of the American public. So as long as they keep running people with that position, they can expect to have to explain it and they can expect us to bludgeon them with their answers.

    • MADCO says:

      But that’s not what Barbour was saying.

      What’s he’s saying is the GOTP candidates shouldn’t talk about stuff that embarrasses the party ‘cuz it hurts ’em all.
      He’s saying they should stay on message – whatever that message is. He’s saying they should lie.

  2. Craig says:

    I agree with Serenity. The problem isn’t that people in the “Republican” Party have foot-in-mouth disease, it’s that they believe this truly false, fantastically unpopular stuff. And they think that it’s mainstream America. In short, they don’t know that what they’re saying is bull shit and they don’t know their own shit stinks.

    And, its endemic. You’ll find people who know how to dress up their unpopular beliefs and know when not to say certain stuff. But, you won’t find very many people left in the “Republican” Party any more who don’t believe that stuff.

    And the problem is that the rank and file of what used to be the Republican Party are finally realizing that these folks really believe this stuff and it’s not just a few radicals within the party. It’s the vast majority of the party. They’re my “country club Republicans” friends who are finally getting what I’ve been telling them for 20 years. These people are not a minority in the party, they are a majority and they aren’t interested in winning. They are simply an intolerant bunch of boobs, far from the mainstream who care only about ideology. It’s why I say to all my Republican friends that they should go and be involved in the nitty-gritty of the “Republican Party” for two years. Be a precinct committeeperson (they can’t be because they’re all pro-choice and couldn’t care less about gay marriage), volunteer (where people will talk about you behind your back and distrust you because you aren’t pure) and most especially go to a county or state convention (if you can get elected and where if you do you’ll be appalled to hear the rhetoric of Akin and Murdoch accepted as orthodoxy and you’ll be scared to death of the number of people carrying). If they can come back after that two year period and tell me they’re still a “Republican” then I’ll respect their choice. Problem is that they won’t do it. The only person who took the challenge immediately changed his registration to unaffiliate, just like me.

    The craziest inmates are off their drugs and they are running the asylum as if they weren’t crazy. The reality is that they are crazy and people are starting to notice.

    • Republican 36 says:

      Craig is absolutely correct. Like him, I left the Republican Party because the people who populate the activist core really believe what guys like Murdoch and Akin said a few months ago during the general eleciton campaign. Last summer, after Murdoch won the Republican nominaiton for U.S. Senate in Indiana I watched an interview he gave and he said two things that are simply crazy but it was obvious he believes both. First, when asked if he would compromise with Democratic senators he said he believe compromise means they must accept and vote for his views. Needless to say, that is just nuts and it certainly isn’t compromise. Second, when asked whether he could represent Hoosier voters who didn’t agree with him, he said he wasn’t representing the voters because it was the voters who are required to agree with him. Hwe had it all backwards but because he has no tolerance for other viewpoints and knows he is absolutely correct, there isn’t any point in compromising. Everyone else just needs to get on board his train.

      And what do we have going on in the upper echelons of the Republican Party in Colorado at the moment. Just look at Bob Beauprez’s website and blog entitled Line of Sight. Here is a Republican who served in the United State House of Representatives and is mentioned as one of the contenders for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2014 and what is he endorsing: A disgraced FBI agent who alleges that President Obama’s foreign policy, especially U.S. Middle Eastern foreign policy, is controlled by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Here is the link:

      Mr. Beauprez wrote this ridiculous article and posted it on January 14, 2013. I don’t think anyone who is willing to buy into the conspiracy nonsense that Beauprez does has any business representing us in the U.S. Senate but, as Craig pointed out, this isn’t an aberration. People like Beauprez really believe this nonsense. Politically they live in a cloistered world where the echo chamber is the only thing they listen to. The Republican Party is slowly dying not because Presient Obama is trying to destroy it, he isn’t, but because the Republican Party is populated by leaders who refuse to acknowledge objective facts or reality. Instead, they create a false picture of an ideal past that never existed, proclaim it to be the promised land both historically and religiously, and then demand that we have no choice but to follow them on their quest to lead us there. None of us should make any mistake about all of this. To follow the Republican Party would be folly. Republicans have nothing to offer but a charade for the future.

      • exlurker19 says:

        Ah, Republican 36, you have left the land of the dark side.
        Now all you have to do is to come over into progressive land. It’s a nice place, I’ve been there for years and years.

    • MADCO says:

      Craig- you say all this like it’s a problem.
      I prefer to think of it as an opportunity.

      I’m glad the ideological purists exist and can get the spotlight from time to time. This is their time- I hope it lasts.

  3. JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

    I don’t think Brophy will ever realize the damage he does as long as Lynn Bartels keeps writing idiotic puff pieces about him. For some strange reason, Colorado media rewards the crazies rather than condemning them. I’ve never understood it.

  4. BlueCatBlueCat says:

    Yep. They still think the problem is a few buffoons saying stupid things. No recognition that these buffoons are only saying out loud what is embedded in the culture of the party and, very often, in the party platform itself. Tact and discretion isn’t your problem. It’s those core beliefs you swear will never change and your 19th century assumptions and world view that are the problem.

  5. harrydobyharrydoby says:

    Or put in simpler terms some sane Republicans might understand:

    The Proverb says: “If you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas.”

    Meaning: If in LIFE you associate yourself with those of low or unsavory character you stand a good chance of having an even less favorable problem to deal with.

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