It’s easy to get tickled reading the pundits’ analyses of Haley Barbour’s decision not to seek the presidency. Few have any clue what Haley foresaw.
I don’t know either. But I do have a clue.
What Haley saw was far beyond what any pundits envisioned. Our Governor has the uncanny ability – one I got to personally witness – to see far down the road, much farther than most.
Those that tie his decision to challenges in the GOP primaries are off base. Haley would not have revved up his campaign, put staff in place, and readied his announcement unless he saw a path to the nomination.
Those that tie his decision to challenges in the presidential campaign are also off base. Haley’s outlook would have transcended the primaries, included the general election, and looked well into one or more presidential terms.
He saw how to win the intense, expensive, brutal primary and general election campaigns. He also saw ways to win through the merciless military, fiscal, and international issues that will face the next President. Undaunted, he then considered what it would take for him to persevere through it all.
You know, Haley has been close to many highly successful politicians, including Ronald Reagan. He appreciates the complex traits they must have: enough charisma to attract voters and financial support; enough wit and intellect to get things done and sustain a public persona; and an oversize dose of personal ambition in order to do whatever it takes to win.
When it comes to the presidency, part of the “whatever it takes to win” mentality is the willingness to abandon all private life, not only for yourself but for your family. Governors, Senators, Representatives and the like can get away to go fishing, hunting, boating, to the movies, etc. They can have private times to have a few drinks with old friends or walk by the lake playing “discovery” with a grandchild.
So, take Haley at his word when he said he didn’t have the fire in the belly to strap on a “ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else.” He had envisioned the whole ten years and how to win through each part of it. More importantly, he saw what it would cost him at age 63 in lost time with Marsha, the children, close friends, and, especially, grandchildren.
I expect, also, that the patriot in him looked to see if others could adequately carry the GOP presidential banner. Seeing those who could, he did a rare thing in politics today. He stepped away. He put family first.
Few who see the way to great power have the will to step away.
Hurrah for you Haley!