Mississippi may soon be in the spotlight

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mississippi’s term-limited governor, Republican Haley Barbour, says he has yet to decide if he’ll officially throw his name in the hat for the 2012 U.S. Presidential race.

By all indications, however, Barbour will dive in for at least a quick swim in the national campaign waters.

A Barbour presidential campaign would present an interesting dichotomy for Mississippians.

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On one hand, having a Mississippi native and former governor as a national candidate should bring some publicity to the Magnolia state. That would seem to be a good thing.

As a state that typically finds itself in the bottom tier of almost any national study or survey of good things and at the top of most of the bad ones, Mississippi could use a few kind words.

In contrast to neighboring Louisiana’s bungling recovery, Mississippi’s handling of Hurricane Katrina seemed nearly picture perfect, at least in hindsight. The state responded swiftly, residents remained calm and a sense of order seemed to be felt.

That story should play well on the national scene, as would some of the great products made in Mississippi and some of the talented and amazing people from here.

But on the other hand, that’s not likely to be the focus of national media scrutiny. No, they’ll almost certainly paint Barbour and every other Mississippian as backward hillbillies with secretive racist agendas.

We welcome Barbour’s exploration, while we brace for the almost certain stereotypes we expect will quickly be hurled at Mississippi.

Irish author Brendan Behan once quipped, “There is no such thing as bad publicity, except your own obituary.”

Mississippians may soon find out if that statement is true.