Last month, upon hearing that Haley Barbour was considered a top-tier GOP presidential prospect, I wrote incredulously, "There are people who think that the solution to the GOP's image problem is to nominate a sleazy, corpulent, cigar-chomping lobbyist from the Deep South? Is Boss Hogg unavailable?"

But the train seems to be rolling:

Gov. Haley Barbour dined with a handful of senior Republican strategists Monday night in Washington, a gathering certain to further stoke talk of the Mississippi Republican's interest in a 2012 race.

The attendees at the dinner, which was held at the Caucus Room, a steak place that Barbour co-founded along with Democratic lobbyist Tommy Boggs, included former Bush White House political director Sara Taylor, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, Club for Growth founder Steve Moore, president of the 2008 Republican National Convention Maria Cino, American Gas Association executive vice president Rick Shelby, former Bob Dole campaign manager Scott Reed and lobbyist Ed Rogers.

President Obama has been quite lucky in his political opponents. But he can't really be this lucky, can he?

--Jonathan Chait