Monday, November 16, 2009

When The Nixons Stayed Seated

In an essay about the angry movement that the Obama White House calls Palinism, "Newsweek"'s Jon Meacham describes a moment of prophetic action by Richard Nixon against Goldwaterism -- as the stage was being set for a GOP wipeout that November that conservatives would proclaim (as they so often do when they help Democrats win) as a great victory:

Richard Nixon sensed trouble. seated in the cow palace in San Francisco at the GOP convention in 1964, he listened as Barry Goldwater said: "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty—is—no—vice." A 41-second ovation ensued. Then Goldwater continued: "And let me remind you also—that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." As Rick Perlstein reconstructs the scene in his book Before the Storm, Nixon reached over to keep his wife, Pat, from rising politely with the crowd. Later Dwight Eisenhower called the Goldwater speech an offense to "the whole American system." The crowds did not care: Goldwater was one of their own, riding in from Arizona to take the GOP from the Ikes and the Rockefellers.

1 comment:

MK said...

Fascinating. Thank you for highlighting this. Good job on finding and posting appropriate pix, as well.

This was a mere 10 years after the Eisenhower administration grappled with Joe McCarthy and some of his fiery rhetoric. McCarthyism was a thorny issue both for RN and Ike. I wonder if RN thought about that when he heard the line about extremism? McCarthy could have achieved much better results in the long term, and wouldn't have flamed oout so quickly, had he modulated his tone and his approach and avoided hyperbole and rabble rousing.