Bad Attitudes, a magazine of culture, politics, art, literature, 
religion & foreign affairs

Haley Barbour Fails to Hide Animus,
Inadvertently Exposing Own Entrails

Guys, does the psych prof ever ask you to define “projection?” And do you have to come up with some lame-o guess because you don’t really know? Well, next time just tell him it’s like when Haley Barbour asks Haley Barbour what Haley Barbour would do if Haley Barbour was James M. Jeffords, which he is not.

Instead James M. Jeffords is a United States Senator, and on May 24 he gave a speech to his Vermont constituents in which he said:

“Increasingly I find myself in disagreement with my party. I understand that many people are more conservative than I am, and they form the Republican Party. Given the changing nature of the national party, it has become a struggle for our leaders to deal with me and for me to deal with them. Indeed the party’s electoral success has underscored the dilemma that I face within the party. In the past, without the presidency, the various wings of the Republican Party in Congress have had some freedom to argue and influence and ultimately to shape the party’s agenda

“The election of President Bush changed that dramatically.

“We don’t live in a parliamentary system, but it is only natural to expect that people who have been honored with positions of leadership will largely support the president’s agenda. And yet, more and more, I find I cannot.

“Those who don’t know me may have thought I took pleasure in resisting the president’s budget or that I enjoyed the limelight. Nothing could be further from the truth. I had serious, substantive reservations about that budget, as you all know, and the decisions it set in place for the future. Looking ahead, I can see more and more instances where I will disagree with the president on very fundamental issues---the issues of choice, the direction of the judiciary, tax and spending decisions, missile defense, energy and the environment and a host of other issues, large and small.

“The largest, for me, is education. I come from the state of Justin Smith Morrill, a U.S. Senator from Vermont who gave America its land-grant college system. His Republican Party stood for opportunity for all, for opening the doors of public school education to every American child. Now, for some, success seems to be measured by the number of students moved out of the public schools.

“In order to best represent my state of Vermont, my own conscience and principles I have stood for my whole life, I will leave the Republican Party and become an independent...”

Asked for comment by the New York Times, Haley Barbour excused himself briefly to read his own entrails and then dismissed his former fellow’s fustian as follows:

“Unlike many of his fellow Republicans, Haley Barbour, a former party chairman who is close to the White House, did not hide his animus. He accused Mr. Jeffords of defecting because he wanted a better committee assignment and knew the Republican hold on the Senate was fragile. ‘Everything Jeffords has done serves his own selfish interest,’ Mr. Barbour said.”

May, 2001


Copyright © 2004 by Jerome Doolittle