The Barbours are spoken of by Democrats and Republicans alike in Mississippi as having near-magical political ability, even by those who loathe their policy preferences. Governor Barbour, a possible presidential candidate, is still widely considered the mastermind, but his nephew is not far behind.
Governor Barbour, who did not respond to requests for comment, has become synonymous with an old-fashioned approach to politics, driven by force of personality and conducted over Maker's Mark. He has also, however, been dogged by statements that suggest a considerably old-fashioned, even blinkered, view of history, having grown up in the middle of the tumultuous civil rights struggle without, apparently, having noticed much.
By contrast, the Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg was far less critical and more complimentary of a Democrat politician who was an actual former member of the Ku Klux Klan: the late Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Here's an excerpt from her April 3, 2005 profile of the anti-war Byrd (scroll down ):
With his white hair, his polished wooden cane and hands that shake from what aides say is a benign tremor, Mr. Byrd cuts a seemingly frail figure in the Capitol, and some wonder if he would be up for a grueling campaign. His wife of nearly 68 years, Erma, has been ill, and he said she is very much on his mind. Yet as he sat in his chandeliered Capitol office last week, his cane resting by his side, Mr. Byrd seemed energized, casting thunderbolts like Zeus from the mountaintop.