Like I said, Barbour is not dumb. If he's being a revisionist about race in Mississippi, he's not alone, and he's fighting back against a media standard that all conservatives hate -- this idea that Southerners and conservatives can never stop atoning for Jim Crow. Why should he have to apologize for this, after all? He wasn't in a Citizens Council. With the exception of some people, like Howell Raines -- who covered Barbour's 1986 Senate bid -- how many of these reporters know what they're talking about, anyway? And there are few things conservative voters hate more than being told they were on the wrong side of the Civil Rights movement.
I for one don't need Southerners to continually atone for Jim Crow. If Haley Barbour doesn't want to have to apologize for Citizens Councils because he wasn't in one, then the best thing he can do is ... keep quiet about Citizens Councils. Publicly reimagining them as a race-neutral instrument of civic stability keeps culture wars alive, because it tells minorities and white liberals that *Southern Whites* haven't moved beyond fighting the battles of the Civil Rights era.
But I think Weigel, in his last sentence, gets at what's going on. "There are few things conservative voters hate more than being told they were on the wrong side of the Civil Rights movement." But they were! Barbour's way of telling the Citizens Council story, though, lets them feel like *they're* the real (and misunderstood) victims of racism in America -- and that's a lie.