Goldwater, Goldwater 2.0 and 'Smart Conservatives'
Two prominent authors from the conservative side of the aisle have recently written thought-provoking articles highlighting Barry Goldwater’s particular brand of conservatism and how it relates to politics in 2014. But I must admit the stark contrast between the two pieces has me a little befuddled.
The first article as written by Jeffrey Lord in The American Spectator makes the case that based upon what America has today become -- Goldwater and his limited-government message has been vindicated:
July, 1964. Fifty years ago this month. The Republican Party nominates Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater for president. The resulting uproar was somewhere north of hysteria. And that was just from the GOP establishment of the day. Followed famously by a November landslide Goldwater “defeat” in which the Arizonan carried a mere five states in his race against Democratic President Lyndon Johnson.
All of this uproar came about because Goldwater believed — really believed — in what the Republican Party said it believed in: limited government. In today’s terms he was something of a libertarian, the Rand Paul of his day. In 1960 he had published a surprise bestseller (ghost written by Brent Bozell, the brother-in-law of National Review founder William F. Buckley, Jr. and father of today’s Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center). The Conscience of a Conservative made the conservative case that modern-day liberalism had not only set the federal government on the path to an unlimited (and unconstitutional) expansion, but that both political parties had signed on to that expansion.
The second piece, penned by George Will over at National Review, makes claim that California GOP gubernatorial candidate; Neel Kaskkari is in fact Goldwater 2.0. Kashkari, who voted for Obama in 2008 and was instrumental in TARP, appears to be anything but conservative seeming to have willfully signed on to “that expansion” as stated above. But Will clearly thinks otherwise:
Fifty Julys ago, up the road near San Francisco, in the unfortunately named Cow Palace, the Republican National Convention gave its presidential nomination to Arizona senator Barry Goldwater, who knew he would lose: Americans were not going to have a third president in 14 months. Besides, his don’t-fence-me-in libertarian conservatism was ahead of its time. His agenda, however, was to change his party’s national brand.
Today, in this state where one in eight Americans lives, and where Democratic presidential candidates can reap 55 electoral votes without spending a dime or a day campaigning, the Republicans’ gubernatorial candidate has an agenda and spirit similar to Goldwater’s. Neel Kashkari is not, as some careless commentary suggests, an anti-Goldwater, diluting the state party’s conservatism. He is Goldwater 2.0, defining conservatism half a century on.
I’ll for the most part try to avoid any “careless commentary” and just let the two articles stand upon their own merit (read the comments) but the Will article did manage to drudge up a memory of an encounter I had with a member of the elite media back in the early 1990’s. I was installing some electrical in the home of then San Jose Mercury News political editor Phil Trounstine. The far-left Mr. Trounstine eventually went on to serve as a top aide to recalled-Governor Gray Davis and even looks to have had some gubernatorial ambitions of his own as of late.
One day the project manager for the construction company I was working with approached me and a colleague and said that Phil and his wife were very upset by our choice in radio programming. We were to meet face to face with the clients in order to discuss the issue. What later ensued was a fairly long lecture from Phil on the absolute “evils” of Rush Limbaugh. He spoke in a very rapid fashion and the words he used to describe Rush were often repeated (especially the word “evil”) more than once. I remember glancing down and being able to partially see the tell-tale scar on his chest near his heart and worrying for his safety. It wasn’t so much that he was angry with us as I think he was just trying to save us from our ‘horribly misguided’ choice in programming.
While the Limbaugh “crises” was eventually resolved by us promising to greatly lower the volume on the radio any time Rush happened to be gracing the airwaves, there was one other thing Phil said that has stuck with me all these years and is what came to mind while reading George Will’s column. He really wanted to emphasize that Rush wasn’t a smart conservative like George Will (I believe he repeated this more than once too). At least George Will was a “smart conservative.”
Somehow I think Phil Trounstine would give Will’s piece a pretty high mark on the intelligence scale which is exactly why conservatives shouldn’t be taking advice from political foes or from the establishment-minded within their own political party.
So where exactly is it that “smart conservatives” have taken the Republican Party? Hint -- don’t look up.
This may also be a good time for me to confess to having chuckled a little bit on the day I happened to witness a squirrel fall from a power line onto Phil’s Porsche while the car was parked out in front of his home.
Scott blogs at www.politiseeds.com