A Liberal Lectures Conservatives on Goldwaterism
From a Rick Perlstein speech to a conservative gathering at Princeton:
I'm working on the sequel to my book Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus now. It's going to be called "Nixonland," and it covers the years 1965 to 1972. And it wasn't long into the research before I found myself wrestling with a historiographic problem.
What to make of the fact that some of the names who pioneered this anti-Nixonian movement of principle showed up in the dankest recesses of the Nixon administration? People like Douglas Caddy, of course, the co-founder of the effort to draft Goldwater for vice-president in 1960 and YAF's first president, who was the man the White House called on to represent the Watergate burglars in 1972. And people like the guy inaugurated as YAF's chair in the 1965 with those stirring words about truth: Tom Charles Huston–who, as the author of the first extra-legal espionage and sabotage plan in the Nixon White House, can fairly be called an architect of Watergate.
It is a thread one finds throughout the annals of the Nixon presidency. The notion that what they were doing was moral, the eggs that need be broken in the act of redeeming a crumbling West. […]
Perhaps that is why it has becomes my thesis that the Republicans are less the party of Goldwater, and more the party of Watergate–and this not despite the operational ascendecy of the conservative movement in its councils but in some sense because of it.
I made a qualified case for Goldwater Liberalism back in March.