But they’re so much fun.
Listening to a bit of the speeches and interviews at CPAC on NPR this morning, I'm suddenly reminded of the conservative movement in the early 1960s, during part of which time I shared a college dorm room with the president of the Indiana University chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (who was a nice guy, when we weren't discussing politics).
My roommate and the other young conservatives — which seemed like a real oxymoron to people like me, back then — were rallying behind Goldwater, and they were utterly convinced that if only Barry could win the Republican nomination in 1964, the whole country would flock to his banner. Because, as they knew in their hearts, the American people are fundamentally right wingers. If they had been correct, then the slogan of the Goldwater campaign during the 1964 election, “In your heart, you know he’s right,” would have been a brilliant one.
They also assumed that the Johnson campaign would be incompetent and wouldn’t exploit all the weak spots in Goldwater’s positions. Obviously, they were wrong on both counts.
No, Goldwater didn’t lose in a landslide because of a supposedly unfair Johnson campaign commercial about a little girl picking flowers as the nuclear bombs start going off. That commercial struck a lot of us at the time as being right on the money, but that’s irrelevant. Goldwater would have lost in a landslide even if that commercial had never run.
Because Goldwater mellowed a bit in his old age and condemned the Republicans for their homophobia, people who don’t remember 1964 think that Goldwater wasn’t such a bad guy, after all. Wrong. He was correctly seen as a raving loon. At the very least, if he had won, his administration would have been filled with raving loons he would have been unable to control.
Now I’m beginning to think that maybe Rand Paul will be the GOP nominee in 2016, instead of any of the familiar names the pundits are backing, and that the result will be another Democratic landslide similar in magnitude to 1964.