Mississippi has one of the highest poverty levels in America, and Haley Barbour wants to make sure it stays that way. Last week, he joined the ranks of a handful of Republican governors who say they don't want any part of Obama's stimulus package.
Politics is no different than any other part of our culture where it comes to the reality that third-rate leadership always trickles down to create third-rate results.
It is a truth that surfaces in everything from coaching professional football to teaching first graders how to read. Success or failure of any organization flows from the top.
For example, Louisiana is the only state in America with a negative economic growth rate, but the GOP presidential hopeful Governor Bobby Jindal stands right beside Barbour in his position that Obama's economic stimulus is bad for his pathetically impoverished state. You might remember that Jindal was heralded as the new brand of GOP visionary who would move Louisiana's economy into the 21st century. That expectation looks remarkably ridiculous today.
Then there is South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford who apparently wants to emphasize the idea that he is an exceptional failure even among other failed Governors. South Carolina is one of those perpetual red states where they consistently distinguish themselves somewhere in the top ten crowd.
That top ten crowd includes the highest in unemployment, the highest in infant mortality, the highest illiteracy and the highest in poverty. But Sanford who by the way is also a GOP presidential hopeful has a unique view about improving the quality of lives for his constituents. Sanford tells us that "Money is the mother's milk of politics. Once you have shown people money, you create an added constituency for government service." In other words, never give people a break and they will be content to live out the only sad, shabby life they know. Sanford drives home the point that a mediocre mind is an enemy of progress. It despises excellence and merely perpetuates mediocrity.
Of course, all this hot air grandstanding by this GOP crowd of mediocre political midgets begs the question. If they don't want the billions being offered to their constituents, there is a solution. Don't accept a dime. That will further enhance the failed image of their leadership. It will shine more light on the fact that there is a pattern here. That pattern is that each one of these governors are leaders of southern red state economies that have remained dependent welfare states under their leadership. The other common thread is that each one of them after failing their own state constituents now want to become GOP presidential candidates. They want to expand the failed social policy in their own states to all of America.
Mediocrity is seductive. It makes failure easier to live with.We see that principal playing itself out as this story develops. When Barbour leaves office, Mississippi will still have the lowest median family income in America. Jindal will no doubt leave Louisiana with a failed education system created by an endless cycle of severe poverty. But both will be regarded as the new golden boys by America's out of touch conservative leadership.