Goldwater say today?
by PAT MURPHY
grandiloquent orations during the Iraq debate by West Virginia’s
majestic silver-haired, silver-tongued Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd
were reminders of another era—when congressmen were independent
thinkers without spin doctors and spoke their minds with flair and not
merely parroting political party lines.
of those vivid figures is missing from the Washington scene: the
irascible, frequently coarse Barry Goldwater, whose straight talk
offended fellow Republicans as often as not. He’d be a nightmare today
for latter day conservatives, some of whom he once called
chats with Goldwater off and on over 25 years in Arizona, the moments
were golden with memorable, irreverent, quotes that he would repeat in
Nixon, he said, was ''the most dishonest individual I have ever met in
my life. He lied to his wife, his family, his friends, his colleagues in
the Congress, lifetime members of his own political party, the American
people and the world.'' Goldwater was in the delegation that told Nixon
to resign or be impeached for the Watergate cover-up.
said President Reagan, whom Goldwater pushed into political prominence,
was "a liar or incompetent" when claiming ignorance about
Iranian arms for Nicaraguan Contras rebels.
incensed Arizona Republicans by repudiating a GOP congressional
candidate as an unqualified carpetbagger and endorsed a Democratic woman
instead, then told GOP Gov. Evan Mecham to resign after being accused of
campaign funding misconduct. Mecham later was ousted after only 15
months in office.
Hillary Clinton, he said, "I like the way she acts," and told
Republican critics of President Clinton to "get off his back and
let him be president."
favored gays in the military (he only cared whether they could shoot
straight, not whether they were sexually straight) approved of abortions
as a woman’s choice (his first wife Peggy, who died of cancer, founded
Arizona Planned Parenthood).
had a special friendship with John Kennedy: he and JFK had planned to
campaign for the presidency together in 1964 using the same airplane and
same stages to debate, as Lincoln and Douglas did a century earlier.
JFK’s death, Goldwater said his heart simply wasn’t in running
idiosyncratic politics led to an attempt (unsuccessful) to remove his
name from Arizona GOP headquarters.
rankled Goldwater more, however, than mixing politics and religion.
was so disgusted with the sanctimony of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, he said
"every good Christian ought to line up and kick Jerry Falwell’s
fumed that "I don’t have any respect for the religious right.
There is no place in this country for practicing religion in politics.
That goes for Falwell, (Pat) Robertson and all the rest of these
political preachers. They are a detriment to the country."
told U.S. News & World Report in 1994, "If they succeed in
establishing religion as a basic Republican Party tenet, they could do
wonders how Goldwater would react today.
weekend, speakers at the Christian Coalition conference in Washington
included Republican Majority Leader Rep. Dick Armey, Republican Majority
Whip Rep. Tom DeLay, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch and Republican Reps.
Roy Blunt and Lindsey Graham.
Sen. James Inhofe, of Oklahoma, didn’t mince words about the
incestuous political-religious ties.
you have the opportunity to get a few liberals out of office, do
it," he told the evangelicals. "You will be doing the Lord’s
work, and He will richly bless you for it."
And as if
to show just how tightly wound together the religious right and the
Republican Party have become since Goldwater’s days, President Bush
sent a feel-good videotape of welcome to the Christian Coalition
gathering, reminding members that together they share similar political