Haley Barbour and the overgrown presidency

I found Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour’s announcement yesterday that he’s not running for president surprising but not earth-shattering; I previously explained that I didn’t think Barbour could win the presidency anyway, and nothing in the interim had changed my mind.

That said, I agree with what the Cato Institute’s Roger Pilon wrote about the reason Barbour gave for staying out:

Gov. Barbour’s explanation for why he will not seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination — because a candidate today “is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else,” and he cannot make such a commitment — is not only refreshingly candid but points to a much deeper problem.

We are moving inexorably not simply to news but to politics 24/7/365. And what better example than our current part-time president who, with no primary challenger in sight, is already on the campaign trail (did he ever leave it?), when the election is 19 months away. Some of us are old enough to remember when elected officials served — and ran for office or re-election only around election time.

Part of the reason for the change is the need today for vast amounts of campaign cash. But the deeper reason, I submit, is because politics has taken over so much of life. When government was more limited, and we didn’t look to it to provide our every need and want, those who “governed” didn’t feel such a need to cater to us — and we had better things to do anyway than obsess over politics. Calvin Coolidge took naps in the White House — in his pajamas! Imagine that today.

(h/t: Instapundit)

It’s not just the media scrutiny of candidates’ personal lives, although that probably still dissuade some potential candidates who may have an embarrassing episode in their or their family members’ past, even if the embarrassment isn’t relevant to how they’d perform in office. The presidency is too-large-for-life because the president is the head of a government that is simply too large. (The too-large-for-life factor also reportedly is why Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who I’d place well above Barbour on my list, has been on the fence about running.)

Not to excuse bad decisions by any president, but I have to wonder who, exactly, could perform the job as it stands today, evolved and mutated in so many ways. And let’s not overlook that President Obama and his immediate predecessor, George W. Bush, didn’t help matters with their efforts to expand the federal government and the president’s role in it.

In fact, I think the too-large-for-life presidency also reinforces the polarization of politics — which in turn further explains the “all-consuming effort,” in Barbour’s words, it takes to become and serve as president. A president invariably will disappoint or even anger his base with some of his actions. But, because he is responsible for so much, his supporters are often hesitant to object too strenuously, lest it weaken his ability to act on other policies on which he and they agree.

So, we got less self-policing of Bush by Republicans on the growth of government and spending — at least until the very end of his presidency, when the magnitude of the problem made it impossible to ignore any longer. And now we get crickets from the mostly left-wing anti-war movement when Obama extends the war in Afghanistan and launches a new one in Libya.

If we want a better president and government, we need to ask them to do less.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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85 comments Add your comment

Scooter (The Original)

April 26th, 2011
12:51 pm

“It’s not just the media scrutiny of candidates’ personal lives, although that probably still dissuade some potential candidates who may have an embarrassing episode in their or their family members’ past, even if the embarrassment isn’t relevant to how they’d perform in office.”

It’s much better to have the media cover for your past, just ask the President.

KOOL

April 26th, 2011
12:52 pm

2nd, ha… always wanted to do that

carlosgvv

April 26th, 2011
12:53 pm

The real reason Haley Barbour dropped out is because his handlers had to bluntly tell him that an old segregationist like himself could not win in today’s America. He should have already known that but political ambition is a blinding thing.

I Know You Are But What Am I

April 26th, 2011
12:59 pm

Kyle

Amongst the true liberals within the Democratic Party, rest assured, there are more than just crickets chirping with respect to Obama’s extension of the Bush Wars. We are appalled at the bait and switch aspect of Obama’s campaign/presidency, and frankly, we’re as opposed to Barack Hussein Obama as the rightmost conservative.

Freedom Lover

April 26th, 2011
1:01 pm

The only thing government does well is nothing at all.

Kyle Wingfield

April 26th, 2011
1:04 pm

Ok, I Know, but is there any chance of a primary challenger for Obama?

Trotsky

April 26th, 2011
1:14 pm

Mr. Obama

did not prosecute Bush and Cheney for war crimes.

did not close Guantanamo.

did not end the wars we cannot afford.

did not offer a single-payer system or even a public option.

did not end the ridiculous Bush tax cuts.

Why in the world would you expect to hear anything but crickets from the left at this point?

KOOL

April 26th, 2011
1:23 pm

Mr. Wingfield, the only potential primary challenger for obama that could be a threat would be hillary clinton. All others (e.g.- kucinich) are inconsequential for obama’s nomination.

So, to answer your question, yes, there’s a chance for a primary challenger.

Obama is over

April 26th, 2011
1:26 pm

It is ashamed because Barbour actually had some pretty good ideas particularly in the energy area. He is very well respected in political circles because of the amount of money he raised for the 2010 elections at the State level. Hopefully, by not running, Barbour will have the time to be effective behind the scenes shaping policy for the GOP to find an electable candidate. Obama is vulnerable if the message is focussed on his diastrous agenda rather than personal social issues that should not be in the political arena in the first place.

carlosgvv

April 26th, 2011
1:43 pm

Kyle, politicians are like hungry sharks who circle when they smell blood. If Obama is perceived to be weak for 2012, there may well be challengers. Political ambition is a blinding thing and it doesn’t take much for someone to persuade themselves they can be the next President.

I Know You Are But What Am I

April 26th, 2011
1:46 pm

Kyle

The liberals within the Democratic Party feel as disenfranchised by their leadership as the conservatives within the GOP. We’re offered one meal and fed another. It seems to be the great equalizer amongst Americans these days.

lynnie gal

April 26th, 2011
1:51 pm

The reason Barbour quit the run up to a republican primary is because, frankly, the optics of an old, white, southern conservative from Mississippi with a hick accent like his running against the sleek, urbane, intelligent image of a bi-racial President like Obama was too off putting for conservatives to rally around and win. It’s not because the presidency is too “large.” It’s not a job for a lazy person who just wants to vacation and kick back.

Road Scholar

April 26th, 2011
1:52 pm

Didn’t reporters and editorialist complain that no one knows where President Obama stands on issues? And then when he attempts to go out to the public and have open houses to discuss issues and hear from the public they complain that he is running for the next election? Isn’t it EVERY politicians strategy to use the press to get out his/her message on a regular basis?

real info

April 26th, 2011
1:53 pm

barbour quit because he knew he couldn’t raise money or have a chance of winning–very simple.

Linda

April 26th, 2011
1:54 pm

We all don’t yet know the Republican who will be elected in 2012, but we already know some great qualities he or she has over Obama.

He or she is not a professional campaigner. We know that because he or she is not out on the campaign trail every single day. He or she is at work, where he or she should be, solving problems.

He or she is not a big spender. We know that because he or she is not out raising globs of money to turn around & spend, spend & spend to get votes.

Actually, I know who won in ‘12. (I advanced my DVR 17 mts.) He will solve the deficit/entitlement problem the same way he got his message out: with pizzas.

Dan

April 26th, 2011
2:00 pm

The irony is O’s “move to the right” is not really intentional. First of all since he was by far the most left leaning senator based on his voting record (albeit a sparse one) he is simply being nudged right by reality, kicking and screaming all the way. Due to his lack of any management experience, he had to learn the hard way that most far left theorys simply don’t work in the real world.

Itsmeagain

April 26th, 2011
2:01 pm

The reason politics has taken such a big role I everyday lives is because government is too large? There is absolutely no evidence to say that. How about, the reason government has taken such a big role in every day lives is because we’re at the stage where there is so much media coverage (not just news channels and papers but bloggers and videos that you can watch on demand) that so many people have access to that everyone knows what is going on, probably for the first time ever. And after that, politics has become a sport. You pick your candidate, and you root for them no matter what. Unfortunately the teams are the Democrats and the Republicans, not the individuals running.

Bleeding Independent

April 26th, 2011
2:12 pm

Kyle,

Government was only “more limited” in theory not in practice. In the good ole days, policy making wasn’t required to bear fruit by the time we logged onto the ajc the next day. The beast of the 24 hour news cycle doesn’t lend itself to the nuances of politics and policy making but is very effective for campaigning. Most of what is fed to the public is hardly ever presented as well researched, fair or balanced from any network.

Politicians, on both sides, have figured out that the rules are now to yell loud, attack your opponent ad hominem and “civility” be d@mned because that’s how the populous ultimately interprets complex issues. Politics is now akin to we vs. them no different than a sport. The other side is ALL WRONG and mine is ALL RIGHT. This is what drives the 24 hour cycle and to do this requires cash. These are the rules of the game.

We are the microwave generation. We expect results of policy making to bear fruit within 24 hours.

joe

April 26th, 2011
2:12 pm

“If we want a better president and government, we need to” FORCE “them to do less.” I corrected your prose…better now. I filled up my tank for $44.77 today…was thinking one year ago, it cost around $24.77 (and I don’t drive a gas guzzler). We need to force Obama to open up drilling here at home. His energy czar has said we need prices on par with europe to get public endorsement of Obama’s green policy. Phooey! We need to drill in the US gulf, Dakotas and Alaska. We need more petroleum processing plants built here (hello, jobs) and we need a new president in 2012.

Linda

April 26th, 2011
2:18 pm

In the recent past, there was not as much of a difference between Democrats & Republicans, especially at the state level. Comparing the parties to a clock, the Democrats were from 10:30 to 12:00 & the Republicans were from 12:00 to 1:30, with a little overlap. Now we have liberals at 9:00 & conservatives at 3:00.

Few of us were even alive during the Progressive Era. What we have witnessed in DC the last 2 yrs. is like our history books becoming movies, horror movies.

Many of us did not realize how corrupt our alphabet media was until our choices were expanded. Our trust in both the media & the fed. govt. have declined simultaneously.

We’ve allowed our politicians to paint us into a corner, but we are fully awake & plan to hold them accountable. The DC Democrats & air traffic controllers are the only ones still asleep.

ByteMe

April 26th, 2011
2:32 pm

Wrong-headed premise, silly supporting arguments.

Does the CEO of Exxon feel like it’s too big a job running a $345 billion per year organization? Nope. Why not? Because he has people who work for him who help him by managing the execution of the CEO’s decisions.

This is the same nonsense anti-intelligence argument that surrounded the health care debate: “The bill is too large to be understood!” Nonsense. It might be too large for the average person, but then again the average person doesn’t get to be CEO of Exxon either.

Big people step up to do big jobs. Small people whine and blog for a living. Not everyone gets to be King. For every CEO, there are 1000 garbage collectors.

Dan

April 26th, 2011
2:34 pm

Some intersting comments here alluding to wanting it now and microwave generation, all of which is true, but I believe KW’s point of smaller government does not belie that. Along with wanting it now, we are wanting more of it, also due to the abundant information available. In the past people didn’t realize what the didn’t have (even if that was a useless fad) the immediacy of this information is just magnifying innate human foibles. Which is why we need to remember Americas rise to world dominance was not due to government per say, but to how government got out of the way to let the people create the lifestyle envied by most of the world. The constituion and bill of rights were created to limit government, not to grant rights, but to prevent the government from infringing on rights that are inherently there.

Boehner Tears

April 26th, 2011
2:37 pm

Joe is right on. We can drill for oil right here and have .99 gas again in no time. To hell with envirowhacko faschits. This Nation runs on oil and we need to be full steam ahead.
Liberals can ride around in their golf carts if they want, but buddy I a’int having any of that mamby pamby pansy stuff.

Tom

April 26th, 2011
2:43 pm

Boss Hogg never had a prayer, and he was finally smart enough to know it. Can you imagine 24/7 reiterations of him saying “I remember them Civil Rights days down in Yazoo. I didn’t never understand what those people were complainin’ about. It shore didn’t seem that bad to me!”

jconservative

April 26th, 2011
2:48 pm

“If we want a better president and government, we need to ask them to do less.”

I completely agree.

But I take aim at Congress which has basically abdicated its constitutional duty when it comes to managing the fiscal affairs of the country. Going back to FDR Congress has just turned over the fiscal policy of the country to the White House.

And the President, the Executive Branch, has readily reached out and grasped the offered responsibility Congress no longer wants.

Today all you hear is criticism from Congress that the president is not leading. That should be the best news they have heard in decades. Forget the President, do your jobs Congress.

Linda

April 26th, 2011
2:51 pm

Government is twice the size it should be. Can you imagine if the fed. govt. was not involved in education, sexual battery at the airport, the outer continental shelf, fed. land management except for land the fed. govt. actually uses, infrastructure, corporate welfare, country welfare, hospitals, etc.?

Ragnar Danneskjöld

April 26th, 2011
2:57 pm

Good afternoon all. I agree with Linda, my primary vote will be for a blunt-talking Georgian with a dark complexion. Hope he brings in Marco as his VP. Got out to Atlas this weekend, well done. I was afraid it would be too dark and too complex, and feared it would be amateurish – I was wrong on all counts.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: Thee Magnificent!!! mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

April 26th, 2011
2:58 pm

“Speculators,” eh?

Coffee prices are at a 34-year high — $3 a pound.

But, making you unhappier still, the price of gas is very near its record high of $4.11 a gallon, set in August 2008. We’re only 7% below that record.

A rise of 13.5 percent in prices for meat, poultry, fish and eggs

Dollar tumbles to all-time low vs. Swiss franc…

Had enough?

jconservative

April 26th, 2011
2:58 pm

“We need to drill in the US gulf, Dakotas and Alaska. We need more petroleum processing plants built here…”

Interesting take on the problem. Who is going to build the petroleum processing plants? The government? The government by loan guarantees? Private industry has not built one in decades.

Drill in the US Gulf. About all is left is the deep water sites and the deep water drilling ships are booked 5 years in advance. So if we start today we can start drilling the first well in 2016.

Drill in the Dakotas and Alaska. Suits me. Hell they can drill in my backyard (for a fee).
But most of the Alaska oil goes to Japan not the US.

And strangely, apparently, the price of US gasoline is determined by the world price of oil, not the US production of oil.

Oil is not the answer, oil is the problem. We need to get rid of the problem.

the watch dog

April 26th, 2011
3:14 pm

We live under two governments at the same time and space is not simple. The result is each each person has two citizenships. He is a citizen of the U.S. and the state in which he resides. Among other legal proclivities a citizen pays two sets of taxes, one to the federal government and one to the state goverment. Obviously, this is one to many

Our problems with big, insensitive government that sees us as only tiny players in a large game, big time politics. Now if all of these hot shot politicians had to make do with a minimum source of income like those that they wish to govern do, then they would be on the right track.

Washington, D.C should make do on revenue from the district of columbia where it resides.
States would make do with revenue garnered only from that state.

This will work.

JM

April 26th, 2011
3:17 pm

I am for limited government, no matter the reason.

TnGelding

April 26th, 2011
3:17 pm

War in Libya? Surely you jest.

Clinton pretty well had it nailed with the proper balance.

Obama campaigned on deficit reduction but was forced in another direction by circumstances beyond his control.

JF McNamara

April 26th, 2011
3:17 pm

This has nothing to do with the size of government, and everything to do with access to media. Even 10 years ago, I couldn’t comment on this blog, the only popular political pundit was Rush Limbaugh, and there weren’t cable networks dedicated to politics.

The job of President isn’t a great job, but it just goes to show that Barbour isn’t much of a leader. For all his bad decision making, Bush was decisive and unmovable. A true leader.

Obama has made no one happy but done a pretty good job on the whole. He made the calls in the face of the most aggressive opposition I can remember on the stimulus, healthcare, and fin reg. A true leader.

Barbour just didn’t have it. At least he realized it early.

Linda

April 26th, 2011
3:21 pm

When the economic stimulus bill was passed, the American people hit the streets. We could see the writing on the wall. Rather than listening to us, the leadership called us every name in the book & kept spending China’s money that our grandchildren will have to repay.

We spoke again in several elections & REALLY, REALLY loudly last Nov. They still didn’t listen & kept calling us names, spending money & passing thousands to pages to regulate us. What money they couldn’t borrow, they printed & caused massive inflation.

The president gave his State of the (Labor) Union speech, stating he wanted to “invest” (translated: spend) in infrastructure (translated: unions) & in “education” (tranlated: teachers’ unions).

Then he came out with his budget. He said it would save trillions of dollars over 10 yrs. What about page 171? It says it adds $7.2 T to the debt. What about the CBO? He says it adds $9.5 T.

Then he came out with his speech to give Ryan & the Reps. a face-slapping. He’s still “investing.” He’s “investing” on his campaign trail.

Did the DC Democrats hear S&P or the IMF this week?

Wonder is Miracle Ear would be willing to make a few donations.

WAW

April 26th, 2011
3:22 pm

Take time to look up and read Eisenhower’s Farewell speech (you’ll have to research a bit because it is not something any politician wants you to see) and you will see why the last General to WIN a real war for the US was also a great prophet. We are living his worst vision.

that's goofy

April 26th, 2011
3:35 pm

I still believe the 24/7 news cycle and the blurring of the line between news and opinion contributes to the hyper partisanship. The loudest and most moronic receive the most coverage.

Politics resembles sports talk radio – that is not good.

Road Scholar

April 26th, 2011
3:38 pm

Yeah Joe and Boehmers Tears, if we started drilling now, in seven years you might get the oil and, after refining it (if we have the refinery capacity), it would be sold on the world market at the prevailing price! Don’t expect a bargain!

We could cut the deficit if there was a tax on whining!

JF McNamara

April 26th, 2011
3:38 pm

Yeah, right Linda.

The stock market continues to grind up. I guess the S&P, collaborators in the crash, finally have it figured out.

I guess all those economist who corroborate that the stimulus was helpful were wrong.

I guess the fact that the Ryan budget was so poorly constructed that Heritage removed their estimates is a ringing endorsement for it. Throw in the fact that it lacked detail about anything but cutting benefits to the old and poor and Obama was dead wrong.

Do yourself a favor. Stop watching TV, listening to the radio, and having political discussions with your friends for a month. Maybe your brain will turn on without the constant reinforcement of all these wrong ideas.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: Thee Magnificent!!! mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

April 26th, 2011
3:43 pm

Blah, blah, blah, liberals, blah, blah-

Bush lifts the presidential moratorium on oil drilling and the next day, oil prices drop by $10/barrel. Commodities traders act on perception and the mere idea that the US will open closed areas for drilling drops the price.

Yep and they eventually fell to 50% of their high price.

Mitzymy

April 26th, 2011
3:46 pm

No one really paid much attention to what was going on in congress until Obama started running for president, and eventually won. We just went along our merry way doing whatever. Now that he is in office for the last 2 years, people are becoming more and more knowledgeable about our government and how it works. We have just gone to the polls and reelected congressmen and women who were virtually doing nothing to help us. Now they are being brought to the forefront by name, and we see our mistakes of the past. Everybody now is concerned about what is going on. Obama is doing a much better job than Bush did, but he is Black!! Wouldn’t you say this is true?

Mitzymy

April 26th, 2011
3:50 pm

Haley never had a chance to win as president. He just threw his hat out there to see if anyone would take it. He seethes with the way the old South used to work, and he is still pleased with that practice. He would get eaten alive at a debate with other runners, and he knows that. He still won’t pardon those 2 sisters that were allowed to be released from prison for stealing $11.00.

Road Scholar

April 26th, 2011
3:54 pm

JFM: “I guess the fact that the Ryan budget was so poorly constructed that Heritage removed their estimates is a ringing endorsement for it. Throw in the fact that it lacked detail…”

Sort of like the Georgia legislature’s latest attempt at rewriting the tax code here!

Deja Vu -not

April 26th, 2011
3:57 pm

remember all the media coverage when Bush was prez and gas rose so high? Pictures of price signs, protests in the streets, accusations of helping his “oil buddies” whoever they may have been. Also daily death counts in the paper from wars in middle East, pictures of coffins going home, revelations of how much it was costing us each day. And NOW -things still the same -and NOT A PEEP! And you wonder why people feel the media is biased?

C. Morton

April 26th, 2011
4:07 pm

I think you’ve observed two largely correct phenomenon but are connecting them in a way that doesn’t make sense. Our obsessive need to observe someone’s every move extends well beyond government into our celebrities and other public figures. Heck, even in our own lives we share and expect to observe far more about our contacts than ever before. Whether this is the fault of Twitter/Facebook/etc or the reason for their meteoric rises I don’t know, but I’m sure they’re connected.

Frankly I just get tired of people who are too polarized to see nuance in anything. If they believe “Barack Hussein Obama” is bad then everything he does or says is bad. I’ve heard people criticize his choice of family dog…what kind of political environment are we in that people even care about that stuff?

I didn’t vote for Bush and I disagreed with lots of his policies, but I hardly think he was a bad guy, and at times he was spot on. But don’t let me say that to some of my liberal friends or they’ll eat me alive. Neo-cons are no better with being able to accept that Obama isn’t an “evil usurper.”

Back to the point I simply think that our continuous news cycles and voyeuristic technology has to be filled with something, so we fill it even with trivial stuff. You’re right…30 years ago no one would have been thinking about who was running in the next election, but right now CNN, FOX, and others can’t stop writing about it. And we keep watching/reading what they produce. It’s not about Big Government in this case; it’s about Big Brother. And Big Brother isn’t the government. It’s all of us.

MarkV

April 26th, 2011
4:08 pm

Herman Cain certainly has an appropriate record to be a Republican nominee: Of his three statements analyzed by PolitiFact, one was judged Half-true, one False, and one Pants on Fire.

tpaine

April 26th, 2011
4:16 pm

Cain is just following the lead of our Liar-In-Chief.
Haley’s problem was he spoke with a southern accent and had been a lobbyist. Sadly, both those things outweigh his very successful career. It’s how you wind up with a Barack Obama – the worst President we’ve had in my 62 years on this earth.

before the fall

April 26th, 2011
4:25 pm

until the very end of his presidency, when the magnitude of the problem made it impossible to ignore any longer”
- —
if u look closely you will see that this was all orchestrated for the benefit of the democrats. they set up a scenario to make it Bush’s fault – something they would ride out to an un-suspecting public.

bush was pushed to sign the stimulus.
i believe he only did it because obama had already been elected and obama & co wanted it on BUSH’S record so they would be able to say, “see, bush did it too.”

there is no way everything was rolling good right until it was time for obama to come into office. add to that too, the history of ACORN behind the financial scenes and obama’s association with FANNIEMAE, and other financial institutions. we were had bigtime.

if america gives the keys to obama a second time i am more than willing to call us STUPID BEYOND REPAIR, (collectively).

MarkV

April 26th, 2011
4:25 pm

Of all the issues, the position of the Republicans regarding Libya is the funniest. Their tendency always is to use US power, and before Obama acted, all the critique was that he should act, immediately and forcefully. But then he acted, and they had a dilemma: what now? So they split between those who say he should not have acted, and those who say he has not acted forcefully enough. Some of them even take both positions. And then we have those illustrious Republican senators, like McCain and Lindsey Graham, who a short time ago praised Libya and shook hands with Qhadafi, and now cannot find words strong enough to urge his overthrow. What a bunch of character-lacking mental dwarfs.

Linda

April 26th, 2011
4:28 pm

JF@3:38, The stock market? What about the other dozen or so economic indicators?

How about dropping into your local court house the next day or two & visiting the dept. where the deeds to secure debt are recorded? Let me know if you can tell which ones are subprime loans to borrowers with no money, no jobs & bad credit & which ones are prime loans. You’re smarter than S&P.

The stimulus was helpful? When the fed. govt. spends one million dollars TIMES one million dollars, that is, ONE TRILLION DOLLARS, money borrowed from China, on junk, stuff we don’t need, it better be a lot more than “helpful.” When they tell us it will prevent unemployment at 7.6% from exceeding 8%, that unemployment rate better NEVER go over 8%. “Oops” don’t cut it!

Since when is a 55-year-young old? How is transferring responsibility from the fed. govt. to the state govt. cutting benefits? The states already handle Medicaid. Speaking of details, tell me about Obama’s. I missed them.

Is it alright with you if I read? I was enjoying Atlas Shrugged & the Federalist Papers again.

Linda

April 26th, 2011
4:33 pm

Mitzymy@3:36, Obama would never have been elected without the white vote. He’s black? His mother was white.

I read this: If you voted for Obama in 2008 to prove you were not racist, you must vote for someone else in 2012 to prove you are not stupid.