Sunday, April 09, 2006

New Goldwater Documentary

The year was 1964 and the media used all its might to rip apart Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. Goldwater was an icon to the conservative movement as it then existed. This was a man who talked about limited government and meant it. Goldwater was decimated in the polls. Little wonder as he was portrayed as a man itching to use atomic bombs. Goldwater represented the heart and soul of the Repubican Party.

A new documentary on Goldwater has recently premiered: Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater. The film was produced by Goldwater's granddaughter, C.C. Goldwater. She says the film will surprise a lot of people. "I think people will look at him and say, 'Wow, he was a lot more liberal than we thought he was.'"

Of course that is not precises. What does she mean saying he was liberal? Goldwater was liberal in the original sense of the word not in the warped American sense of the word. He supported the right to abortion for instance. He and his wife were close supporters of Planned Parenthood. He also supported removing the ban on gays serving in the military. In one segment of the documentary Goldwater makes clear: "The religious right scares the hell out of me. They have no place in politics."

And the Religious Right a few years back, when the interview was done, was no where as near as authoritarian and theocratic as it is today. If they scared Goldwater back then today he'd be packing for Canada.

Nixon aid John Dean is interviewed about his testimony regarding Watergate. He had revealed that Nixon knew about the break-in and says that before he testified Goldwater approached him and said, regarding Nixon, "That S.O.B. was always a liar, so go nail him." Nixon represented the battle for Republicanism at the time. He was an advocate of Big Government or what is called "compassionate conservatism".

This brings up an interesting thought. Goldwater disliked the Nixonian wing of his party. He thought the Religious Right was dangerous. One could only guess what he would say about the current Republican in the White House. George Bush is Nixon writ large when it comes to his support for massive government intervention. And onto that statist foundation he has grafted theocratic sentiments from a far more extreme Religious Right than existed when Goldwater said these people scared him. I suspect Goldwater would not be pleased.

A couple of years ago I flew out of Barry Goldwater International Airport and remember the security thugs harassing flyers in the name of security. At the time I thought Goldwater would be spinning in his grave. Of course if a Republican today expressed took positions like Goldwater did he would be called a RINO by the neo-cons that control the party. But he would not be a Republican In Name Only. He would be representing the old heart of the party. The RINO's today are not small government, libertarian-leaning fans of Goldwater. The RINO's are in the White House.