It says something about today’s Republican Party that one of its most powerful members is the governor of the poorest state in the country. Mississippi has been the poorest state in the country for a long time, and after six years with Haley Barbour in the governor’s mansion it’s still the poorest state in the country.
Yet Haley Barbour is considered a great success as governor. This is mostly because of Karl Rove’s political exploitation of Hurricane Katrina — the White House made sure the Democratic governor of Louisiana looked like a failure after Katrina, while the Republican governor of Mississippi smelled like a rose But let’s go on.
Barbour strongly opposes reproductive rights and has put a lot of time and energy into enforcing every restriction on abortion the courts will allow, and probably a few the courts wouldn’t allow if the law were challenged. Yet for years Mississippi has been at the top or near the top in state rankings for infant mortality, a a fact that eludes Barbour’s attention.
As bad as it was when Barbour took office in 2004, under his tenure the infant mortality rates in Mississippi got worse.
Mississippi citizens enjoy the worst health care system in the nation, according to the Commonwealth Fund. It comes in at number 51, behind every other state and the District of Columbia. Mississippians are more likely to die for lack of medical care than are the residents of any other state (plus the District of Columbia), the Commonwealth Fund says.
But according to Gov. Barbour’s website, there was a health care crisis when Barbour took office, but Barbour fixed it. He did this by jamming through legislation that provides doctors and hospitals substantial protection from lawsuits and also by finding ways to kick thousands of people off of Medicaid (in the poorest state in the country, mind you). There — problem solved. Mississippians are more likely to die preventable deaths than residents of any other state, but that is not a problem to Gov. Barbour.
Recently Barbour defended Virginia’s Confederate History Month, in particular the original proclamation that left out the little issue of slavery. If the governor doesn’t think slavery was an important issue to Mississippi when the state chose to secede from the Union in 1861, he should read the “declaration of causes” document drawn up by the state’s secession convention.
In short, Barbour is the quintessential Republican; a Republican’s Republican, if you will. He exists entirely to protect the rich and oppress the poor, and he calls that “governing.”