George Will on "Democratic-manufactured hysteria"
The Washington Post columnist takes us down memory lane:
In 1964, the slogan of the Republican presidential nominee, Barry Goldwater, was "A choice, not an echo." Forty-six years on, the Tea Party is a loud echo of his attempt to reconnect American politics with the tradition of limited government.
In response to a questionnaire from a magazine, 1,189 psychiatrists, none of whom had ever met Goldwater, declared him unfit for office—"emotionally unstable," "immature," "cowardly," "grossly psychotic," "paranoid," "chronic schizophrenic" and "dangerous lunatic" were some judgments from the psychiatrists who believed that extremism in pursuit of Goldwater was no vice. Shortly before the election, Columbia University historian Richard Hofstadter published in Harper's an essay (later expanded into a book with the same title), "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," that encouraged the idea that Goldwater's kind of conservatism was a mental disorder.
On the eve of the convention that nominated Goldwater, Daniel Schorr of CBS, "reporting" from Germany, said: "It looks as though Sen. Goldwater, if nominated, will be starting his campaign here in Bavaria, center of Germany's right wing" and "Hitler's one-time stomping ground."
Goldwater, said Schorr, would be vacationing near Hitler's villa at Berchtesgaden. Schorr further noted that Goldwater had given an interview to Der Spiegel "appealing to right-wing elements in Germany" and had agreed to speak to a gathering of "right-wing Germans." So, "there are signs that the American and German right wings are joining up."
But as Andrew Ferguson of the Weekly Standard has reported, although Goldwater had spoken vaguely about a European vacation (he did not take one), he had not mentioned Germany, and there were no plans to address any German group. Der Spiegel had reprinted an interview that had appeared elsewhere.
The relevance of this for 2010? There is precedent for the mainstream media being megaphones for Democratic-manufactured hysteria.
Related: Matt Taibbi conducts thorough investigation of Tea Partiers, and scientifically concludes: "They're full of shit. All of them."
For an actually insightful essay, re-read Jesse Walker's classic "The Paranoid Center." Reason on Goldwater here.