Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Barbour Heads South on Afghanistan

It’s never been clear to me exactly what niche Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is seeking to fill in the wide open 2012 GOP presidential race other, that is, than the Deep South veteran lobbyist niche. That’s the sort of profile that makes implausible candidates like Mitt Romney, who must carry his Massachusetts version of ObamaCare around on his shoulders like Atlas shlepping the globe, look somewhat plausible. But Barbour, whose reputation as one of the most competent governors in the country is offset by his corn-pone Confederate drawl and K Street instincts, is apparently experimenting with an approach that certainly runs against type for a Southern conservative: the GOP dove.

According to Politico, while trawling for future caucus support in Iowa on Monday, Barbour called for both cuts in defense spending and a potential bugout in Afghanistan. During a speech to county leaders and activists, Barbour said that Republicans must cut the defense budget to retain their credibility as deficit hawks. He then went on to say that the United States must also scale back its military presence in Afghanistan, not for financial reasons, but because he thinks the goal of wiping out al-Qaeda there isn’t sufficient to justify a “100,000-man Army mission.”

Barbour is right that U.S. troops alone won’t turn Afghanistan into “Ireland or a Western-style democracy.” But he fails to note what would come from that country being handed back to the Taliban and its network of Islamist terrorists, just as he seems oblivious of the other implications of the sort of deep cuts in defense he appears to be advocating.

The Mississippi governor, who has never been accused of being much of an ideologue of the right, is clearly seeking to pander to hardcore Tea Party activists, who may be right about the problem with government deficits but whose idea of foreign policy consists of building a bigger wall along our border with Mexico. The gambit might win Barbour a few more caucus votes, but it is also exactly the sort of cynicism that makes him such an unattractive national spokesman for the GOP, let alone a presidential contender. The Tea Party revolt transformed American politics last year, but the idea that a Republican can win the presidency by masquerading as a skinflint dove is pure science fiction. Barbour’s putative candidacy, like the mighty Mississippi itself, seems to be heading south.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.