Ed Driscoll

CBS Declares Christine O'Donnell the Next Barry Goldwater

Unlike Katie Couric and Bob Schieffer, I’m not yet ready to make such a comparison myself, but still, it’s certainly good company for the Delaware Republican to be in:

Up next, Bob Schieffer ruminated about another 1964-like debacle for Republicans. “It is very much like 1964,” Schieffer contended, when Republicans “threw out all the establishment candidates” and nominated Barry Goldwater who “was far to the right of most of the people in his party, and they lost in a landslide.” So that’s why, Schieffer insisted, “you have establishment Republicans worried about what’s going to happen now in November.”

Having been smeared as a Nazi by CBS back in 1964 (and the more things change…), Goldwater would eventually find himself venerated as an elder statesman of conservatism in later years. Back in 2007, the Boston Globe explained “Why Goldwater has emerged as an important figure in the presidential campaign — and why Hillary Clinton is among his fans:”

It was once said of the Velvet Underground that few people bought their records but every one of them started a band. Few Americans ever got on the Goldwater bandwagon, but each today seems to be running for president. In the lives of McCain, Clinton, and fellow candidate Fred Thompson, Goldwater plays different cameos: from paternal role model to high-school hobby to intellectual beacon. As Goldwater has lost his ideological relevance, candidates talk less about what he believed than recall their interactions with him as formative moments in their own maturations – a symbol of integrity used as a preemptive defense for their own self-perceived shortcomings.

Clinton says she read “Conscience of a Conservative” growing up in suburban Illinois after being introduced to it by a ninth-grade history teacher. Clinton went on that year to write a term paper on conservatism and dedicated it “to my parents, who have always taught me to be an individual.” As a 16-year-old Young Republican, Clinton donned a “cowgirl outfit and straw cowboy hat emblazoned with the slogan AuH20,” the chemical symbols for gold and water, to campaign for Goldwater.

At once, Clinton treats her Goldwater period as an adorable, ironic curio that reaffirms her traditional Midwestern roots and suggests an uncalculated childish exuberance: offered a choice between Goldwaterism and Beatlemania, she chose “In Your Heart, You Know He’s Right” over “I Saw Her Standing There.” Even as first lady, Clinton coquettishly called herself “this Goldwater Girl” in a letter to the senator, then retired, who referred to Hillary in letters to Bill as “your charming wife.”

That a center-left Democrat like Clinton can now proudly acknowledge those roots is a sign of changing times, according to Princeton University historian Sean Wilentz.

“Goldwater’s image has softened, so it’s not as dangerous today,” said Wilentz, a longtime ally of the Clintons.

And of course, Goldwater’s defeat in 1964 would lead to the rise of one of America’s most beloved presidents in 1980, when voters finally realized the error of their ways. Why repeat the same mistake twice? Delaware voters, why not take CBS’s advice this time around and jump on the bandwagon early for this soon to be bipartisan favorite? Tell ’em Katie and Bob sent you!

Update: Whatever O’Donnell’s  flaws,  her opponent sounds like quite a piece of work himself:

An article Democrat Chris Coons wrote for his college newspaper may not go over so well in corporation-friendly Delaware, where he already faces an uphill battle for Vice President Joe Biden’s old Senate seat.

The title? “Chris Coons: The Making of a Bearded Marxist.”

In the article, Coons, then 21 years old and about to graduate from Amherst College, chronicled his transformation from a sheltered, conservative-minded college student who had worked for former GOP Delaware Sen. William Roth and had campaigned for Ronald Reagan in 1980 into a cynical young adult who was distrustful of American power and willing to question the American notion of free enterprise.

Dude, that’s sooo 2009.

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