Newt Gingrich Fails In Attempts To Become Ronald Reagan or Barry Goldwater

With the candidates for the GOP nomination failing to have a sensible platform of their own, they are trying to latch onto the reputation of Ronald Reagan. Newt Gingrich is the most guilty of this.  Mitt Romney, who has taken both sides of virtually question imaginable, has declared his independence from Bush-Reagan in the past. Conservatives disagree as to whether Gingrich is the new Ronald Reagan.  National Review ran a story showing that Gingrich frequently attacked Reagan, while many conservative blogs are running a video in which Nancy Reagan said her husband had turned over the torch to Newt.

One thing is certain. Newt Gingrich is not a Bob Dole Republican, as Dole has made very clear:

I have not been critical of Newt Gingrich but it is now time to take a stand before it is too late. If Gingrich is the nominee it will have an adverse impact on Republican candidates running for county, state, and federal offices. Hardly anyone who served with Newt in Congress has endorsed him and that fact speaks for itself. He was a one-man-band who rarely took advice. It was his way or the highway.

Gingrich served as Speaker from 1995 to 1999 and had trouble within his own party. By 1997 a number of House Republican members wanted to throw him out as Speaker. But he hung on until after the 1998 elections when Newt could read the writing on the wall. His mounting ethics problems caused him to resign in early 1999. I know whereof I speak as I helped establish a line of credit of $150,000 to help Newt pay off the fine for his ethics violations. In the end, he paid the fine with money from other sources.

Gingrich had a new idea every minute and most of them were off the wall. He loved picking a fight with President Clinton because he knew this would get the attention of the press. This and a myriad of other specifics like shutting down the government helped to topple Gingrich in 1998.

In my run for the presidency in 1996 the Democrats greeted me with a number of negative TV ads and in every one of them Newt was in the ad. He was very unpopular and I am not only certain that this did not help me, but that it also cost House seats that year. Newt would show up at the campaign headquarters with an empty bucket in his hand — that was a symbol of some sort for him — and I never did know what he was doing or why he was doing it, and I’m not certain he knew either.

The Democrats are spending millions of dollars running negative ads against Romney as they are hoping that Gingrich will be the nominee which could result in a landslide victory for Obama and a crushing defeat for Republicans from the courthouse to the White House. Democrats are not running ads against Gingrich which is further proof they want to derail Governor Romney.

In my opinion if we want to avoid a sweeping victory by Obama in November, Republicans should nominate Governor Romney as our standard bearer. He could win because he has the requisite experience in the public and private sectors. He would be a president in whom we could have confidence and he would make us proud.

Gingrich has also compared himself to Barry Goldwater, but that one is especially absurd. Goldwater made his opposition to the religious right very clear in many statements, including in a speech before the Senate on September 16, 1981:

On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?

And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of “conservatism.”

Goldwater also expressed similar views in 1994:

Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.

Former social liberal Mitt Romney would also fail on these grounds with his  pandering to the religious right.

Republicans Out of the White House vs. Republican Presidents on Taxes and the Deficit

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vOZcDkN1NKM

The Republicans have moved far to the right of both Barry Goldwater, who opposed the religious right and considered himself a liberal in his later years, and even Ronald Reagan would not get along with today’s conservatives. Eric Cantor was confronted with this fact when interviewed on Sixty Minutes last night (video above):

Stahl: But you know, your idol, as I’ve read anyway, was Ronald Reagan. And he compromised.

Cantor: He never compromised his principles.

Stahl: Well, he raised taxes and it was one of his principles not to raise taxes.

Cantor: Well, he — he also cut taxes.

Stahl: But he did compromise —

Cantor: Well I —

Steve Benen comments:

At that point, Cantor’s press secretary, off camera, interrupted the interview, yelling that Stahl was lying when she said Reagan raised taxes. As Stahl told “60 Minutes” viewers, “There seemed to be some difficulty accepting the fact that even though Ronald Reagan cut taxes, he also pushed through several tax increases, including one in 1982 during a recession.”

Let’s call “some difficulty” a dramatic understatement.

Unfortunately for Cantor and his press secretary, reality is stubborn. The facts are indisputable: in Ronald Reagan’s first term, he signed off on a series of tax increases — even when unemployment was nearing 11% — and proceeded to raise taxes seven out of the eight years he was in office. The truth is, “no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people” as Reagan.

Of particular interest is the “Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982,” the largest of Reagan’s tax increases, and generally considered the largest tax increase — as a percentage of the economy — in modern American history. In fact, between 1982 and 1984, Reagan raised taxes four times, and as Bruce Bartlett has explained more than once, Reagan raised taxes 12 times during his eight years in office.

Last year’s irresponsible actions by the GOP, under pressure from the Tea Party, also highlights another difference. Reagan never had a problem with increasing the debt ceiling.

This is all really part of a pattern. Republicans out of office support tax cuts and cuts in government spending. Once in office, Republicans run up big bills and deficits, and in the case of Reagan, also raised taxes. When out of office they blame the Democrats for the bills which the Republicans have run up (and last summer the Tea Party even opposed paying the bills already run up by Republicans, causing a drop in the nation’s credit rating). Conservatives realize that George Bush was a big spending, but they retain their myths about Ronald Reagan.

 

The Advantage Of Running Against Bat-Shit Crazy Opponents: Obama Leading All Republican Candidates In Ohio

The conventional wisdom is that Obama is doing poorly in the rust belt and that will have difficulty holding on to states he picked up in 2008 such as Ohio. Polls a year out are hardly conclusive, but a Public Policy Polling survey does show that Obama has large leads over his potential rivals in Ohio:

One person who should be feeling particularly good about last night’s election results in Ohio is Barack Obama. On our weekend poll, which got the final result of Issue 2 correct to within a point, Obama led all of his Republican opponents in the state by margins ranging from 9-17 points.  After a very tough year for Democrats in Ohio in 2010, things are looking up.

Obama led Mitt Romney 50-41 on our poll. He was up 11 points on Herman Cain at 50-39, 13 on Newt Gingrich at 51-38, 14 on Ron Paul at 50-36, 14 on Michele Bachmann at 51-37 and a whooping 17 points on Rick Perry at 53-36. It used to be Sarah Palin’s numbers that we compared to Barry Goldwater, but Perry’s deficit would represent the largest Republican defeat in Ohio since 1964.

The biggest thing Obama has going for him right now is an extremely unified Democratic base. Obama gets 88-92% of his party’s vote against the six Republican candidates.  What makes that particularly notable is that his approval rating with Democratic voters is actually only 73%. But these numbers suggest that when election time comes around the party base will get around Obama whether they’re totally thrilled with him or not, and that’s a very good sign for his reelection prospects.

Obama continues to suffer from poor approval ratings in Ohio with only 41% of voters approving of him to 49% who disapprove. But voters don’t seem to consider any of his opponents to be viable alternatives. Cain has the best favorability of the bunch at a still poor 33/43 and it just gets worse from there- 28/48 for Romney, 31/51 for Gingrich, 24/47 for Bachmann, 20/50 for Paul, and a truly woeful 17/58 for Perry. This field of GOP contenders just doesn’t seem to have much appeal to swing state voters.

Besides calling into question the predictions that Obama will lose Ohio next year, this poll also shows that there is limited correlation between approval ratings and ability to win a state. With the Republican Party now under the control of extremists who have moved far to the right of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, it is possible that Obama can win states despite mediocre approval ratings. It is also very likely that Obama’s approval will improve once he is seen in a head to head contest with a bat-shit crazy Republican.

Rush Limbaugh Declares Mitt Romney Is Not A Conservative

By conventional measures Mitt Romney looks like he should run away with the nomination. His victory remains in doubt because the current Republican Party is no longer a conventional political party. The domination of the party by far right wing extremists raises questions as to whether a candidate opposed by the far right can actually win. There was another setback for Romney today as the unofficial spokesman for the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, declared that Romney is not a conservative:

The reason is simple: Romney is not a conservative. He’s not, folks. You can argue with me all day long on that, but he isn’t. What he has going for him is that he’s not Obama and that he is doing incredibly well in the debates because he’s done it a long time. He’s very seasoned. He never makes a mistake, and he’s going to keep winning these things if he never makes a mistake. It’s that simple. But I’m not personally ready to settle on anybody yet — and I know that neither are most of you, and I also know that most of you do not want this over now, before we’ve even had a single primary! All we’ve had are straw votes. You know that the Republican establishment’s trying to nail this down and end it. You know that that’s happening, and I know that you don’t want that to happen, and neither do I.

Now, as for Romney — and you should know, by the way, that I’ve met Romney. I’ve not played golf with him but I’ve met him, and I like all of these people. This isn’t personal, not with what country faces and so forth. I like him very much. I’ve spent some social time with him. He’s a fine guy. He’s very nice gentleman. He is a gentleman. But he’s not a conservative — and if you disagree, I’m open. The telephone lines are yours. Call and tell me what you think it is that makes him a principled conservative, what exactly is it. Is there something that he has said that shows conservative, principled leadership? What did he say? I’m open to it.

As a sign of how rapidly the conservative movement has been moving to the right, back in 2008 Rush Limbaugh endorsed Romney. Jame Joyner has a post on the changing definition of conservative, using this as one example. He also cited David Frum’s decision to leave NPR’s Marketplace, no longer feelling he could represent the current conservative movement:

He made his name as a conservative opinion writer at The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the The American Spectator. His first book, Dead Right (1994), was described by William F. Buckley as “the most refreshing ideological experience in a generation.” A speechwriter to President George W. Bush, he penned the infamous phrase “axis of evil.” And he was a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute from 2003 until he was fired last March.

But now he’s so far outside the American conservative mainstream that he’s routinely vilified as a Republican in Name Only and a traitor to the movement.

Joyner had another example of a former conservative hero who no longer fits in:

As many have noted, while conservative politicians constantly reference Ronald Reagan’s legacy as the gold standard, it’s arguable whether the Gipper himself would pass tea-party muster. After all, he signed a huge amnesty bill for illegal aliens into law and his signature tax cut left the top marginal rate at 50 percent. As we all know, anything above 35 percent is socialism.

While the Republican move to the right has been more rapid in recent years, this has been occurring for quite a long time. Even Barry Goldwater considered himself a liberal in his later years, appalled by how far right the Republicans had moved in his lifetime.

Not-Romney Continues To Lead GOP Race

The Republican base remains desperate for a not-Romney candidate and Herman Cain remains the top not-Romney following the collapse of the brief leads held by Michele Bachmann and then Rick Perry. Cain has even moved to a lead nationally in the latest Public Policy Survey, leading Romney 30 percent to 22 percent. Newt Gingrich has managed to  move ahead of Perry.

National polls have their limitations in evaluating primary battles. The real question is whether the far right can deny Romney victories in the early contests. A Romney victory in New Hampshire would not help if the right wing can keep him from winning elsewhere. David Frum discussed why the far right does not want Romney to win:

Why is it that the GOP base seems not to care a whit about Mitt? Perhaps it’s because he is the anti-Tea Party, anti-talk-radio, anti-anti-government candidate.

Romney will never be able to appeal to those who want “limited government.” He fundamentally cannot; he is, at bottom, a center-right candidate who believes that government, when run effectively and efficiently, can produce the best results for the most people. It’s a noble view—one that the GOP base seemingly hates him for.

Anti-Romney sentiment is clearly connected to the idea that if Romney wins, the Reagan Revolution somehow loses. A Romney presidency could actually restore the average American’s faith in the competency of Washington—a notion that GOP base voters find intolerable.

Conservatives and Tea Partiers were supposed to put an end to people like Romney. They had convinced themselves that the era of the Bush 41-style Republican was over and done with, and that the GOP would now and forever be controlled by the purebred conservatives, the ideological offspring of Reagan and Goldwater, the true believers who would finally cut Washington down to size and starve the statist beast until you could see its ribcage.

If Romney becomes the GOP nominee, it will prove that the Tea Party project was an abject failure, and that the momentum of 2010 was only temporary.

Romney doesn’t represent “taking the country back.” To the contrary, he represents taking the country forward, and recognizing government’s appropriate role in doing so.

It is tough enough for the Tea Party now that they are being eclipsed by the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has a major advantage over the Tea Party in at least recognizing were the problems are. The Tea Party, which is made up of ignorant pawns of the top one percent which seeks to replace American democracy and capitalism with plutocracy, would be seen as especially meaningless if they cannot prevent Romney from winning the nomination.

At this point it looks like the primary race will play out one of two ways. Most likely, without credible opposition, Romney will gradually accumulate delegates until he is unstoppable. The second most likely alternative is that one not-Romney candidate will peak early in the primary battle and, with the support of the GOP base, manage to defeat Romney. The manner in which different conservatives have peaked at different times raises a third possibility. Perhaps different conservatives will win at different times and in different states, preventing Romney from getting enough delegates to win, leaving an open convention battle between a large Romney delegation and multiple conservatives whose total delegates outnumber Romney’s. While unlikely, it is possible that it will be left to the Republican convention to choose  the not-Romney candidate.

Republican Fringe Ideas Help Obama’s Reelection Prospects

With Rick Perry moving into a  lead for the GOP nomination, there are some conservatives who recognize that his nomination could be a disaster of Goldwater-proportions. Joe Scarborough says there is “No way” Perry could beat Obama. Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review has a realistic column for Bloomberg arguing that Obama’s weakness is leading to Republican overreach, making it hard for Republicans to win in a general election. Ponnuru wrote:

Already the Republican primaries have seen candidates take positions that will be hard sells in the fall of next year. Both Bachmann and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, for example, want to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. Polls suggest that while the public doesn’t consider environmental protection its top priority right now, it favors regulation and trusts Democrats over Republicans on the issue. Texas Governor Rick Perry has suggested that Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional and that they should be replaced by state-run programs. There’s a reason no Republican candidate since 1964 has run on a platform anything like this one on entitlements: Both programs are extremely popular.

Perry has also suggested that he disapproves of the New Deal, seeing it as a moment when the federal government began to exceed the constitutional limits of its power. He hasn’t said he wants to undo the New Deal, but it’s not out of bounds for Democrats to make the charge, given the importance he attaches to constitutionalism.

In each of these cases, provocative positions have been met by silence from rival candidates. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney hasn’t come out in favor of abolishing the EPA or getting rid of federal entitlement programs, but he hasn’t denounced these ideas or even used them as an argument against the electability of the candidates who have advanced them. Evidently he believes either that the primary electorate doesn’t think these positions are politically toxic, or that it doesn’t consider electability a key concern.

If Republican voters had electability on their minds, they would also want to see the candidates address issues that concern the broader public: how to get wages growing again after years when they stagnated even during periods of growth; and what to replace Obama’s health-care reform with. But the candidates feel no pressure from primary voters to outline plans on those issues, and haven’t done so. Instead, they are focused on issues — such as the alleged threat of “sharia law” and the heavy share of income taxes paid by the rich — that are of interest only to the party faithful.

Ponnuru prefaced this discussion by a discussion of Obama’s difficulties in getting reelected, and hopefully underestimated Obama’s political skills:

Obama has never had to demonstrate great political skill in his general-election races. During both of them, he was blessed with good luck (a fringy opponent in his Senate race, and a collapsing economy during his presidential run).

To limit the discussion to general-election races ignores a major achievement in defeating Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Although the economic situation made it difficult for a Republican to win in 20o8 (while giving Republicans an edge in 2012 due to the short memories of American voters), Obama still did run an excellent general election campaign. On the other hand, the manner in which the Republicans won the spin wars over health care reform and the stimulus after Obama took office do leave cause for concern. Obama’s chances are helped considerably due to his potential opponents being bat-shit crazy. He might also be helped by falling in the polls now, forcing him to campaign more as he did before be was elected.

The Rick Perry Nightmare

Rick Perry has jumped into the lead in the GOP nomination battle. Walter Shapiro points out that Rick Perry is a liberal’s worst nightmare:

Perry is not only a presidential candidate, but also a cowboy-booted sociological experiment. It is almost as if Perry’s political persona was constructed by bundling together all the fears and phantoms in the left-wing anxiety closet. Since the hysteria of the 1950s Red Scare, no Republican figure has matched Perry in his God-given ability to give liberals the heebie-jeebies. Others can rival the governor’s disdain for academic achievement (Palin), his cross-on-the-sleeve religiosity (Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee), and his antipathy to Social Security and Medicare (Paul Ryan and Barry Goldwater). But never before has a top-tier presidential candidate embodied the whole lethal package—and more:

From there, Shapiro discussed five specific areas:

  1. Anti-Intellectualism
  2. The God Card
  3. The Living Constitution in which “Perry stands out for his creative cut-and-paste approach to the Constitution.”
  4. Pistol-Packing President
  5. Daring to Call It Treason such as “Perry’s claim that Ben Bernanke would be ‘almost treasonous‘ if he persisted in loosening monetary policy to ward off a double-dip recession.”

Shapiro also referred to other views of Perry, such as the “theory of Dave Mann, editor of the Texas Observer, that Perry’s only governing ideology is ‘crony capitalism.'”

This description of Perry should not only be considered nightmares for liberals. Perry should be nightmares for any thinking American.  There is hope that Americans will see how far Perry’s views are from mainstream American values since, as Greg Sargent discussed, his views are out there in black and white. I recently noted how Perry’s campaign is embarrassed by Perry’s writings which oppose Social Security. His latest embarrassment is Perry’s comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism in a 2008 book. With the number of extremist views present in his book, Rick Perry should even be a nightmare for any Republicans who realize that they have to appeal beyond the far right in order to win.

Evolving Meanings of Left vs. Right

Andrew Sullivan is having a label-crisis. He appears to be troubled by the fact that his views are not the views held by most people who now identify themselves as conservatives:

I suffer, it seems, from an affliction that bedevils many. I now find myself largely opposed to most Republicans and in favor of a Democratic president as an even tempered pragmatist. But I have not reimagined myself as a leftist. Others have, of course, but I wince a little every time. Take the issue of taxes – and you see where the right-left paradigm is totally insufficient to the occasion.

Income tax rates are now lower than they were under Ronald Reagan and far lower than they were under Eisenhower. And yet it has become a Norquistian non-negotiable that no taxes can be raised at all on anyone, let alone the beneficiaries of the last thirty years – and those who differ must be “leftists” – even when the US is facing debt of historic and dangerous proportions. Someone advocating what Eisenhower was perfectly comfortable with would be regarded by the Republican right today as a communist. And yet, of course, Eisenhower was emphatically not a Communist, whatever the John Birch society believed. In retrospect, he might even be seen as the most successful small-c conservative of the 20th century. (This was indeed Paul Johnson’s take in Modern Times.)

Similarly, those who view Obama as some kind of radical have to come to terms with what Glenn Greenwald spells out here:

Since Obama was inaugurated, the Dow Jones has increased more than 50% — from 8,000 to more than 12,000; the wealthiest recieved a massive tax cut; the top marginal tax rate was three times less than during the Eisenhower years and substantially lower than during the Reagan years; income and wealth inequality are so vast and rising that it is easily at Third World levels; meanwhile, “the share of U.S. taxes paid by corporations has fallen from 30 percent of federal revenue in the 1950s to 6.6 percent in 2009.”

Conservatism cannot be defined as whatever is the most extreme right-wing narrative of the moment. Time matters. Conservatism needs to be flexible enough a governing philosophy to be able to correct for conservative ideology itself. When such an ideology threatens fiscal balance, a prudent foreign policy, and a thriving middle class, it has become the enemy of real conservatism, not its friend.

The problem is that the conservative movement has been taken over by the extreme right-wing. For the rational Republicans of previous decades, Barack Obama is far closer to their views than the current Republican Party is. Even Barry Goldwater in his later years rejected the religious right and considered himself a liberal.

I’m not going to bother arguing over labels, considering how imprecise they are. If Andrew Sullivan wants to call himself a conservative, but one with views far different from the extremists dominating the conservative movement, that’s his business.

Personally I am far more willing than Sullivan to face reality and grant the extreme right wing victory in taking control of the conservative movement. These days, basically if you are not bat-shit crazy, you are not part of that conservative movement.From my perspective, that currently does make one a leftist, but I certainly am not going to try to force Sullivan to re-imagine himself as one.

The reality is that the meaning of left and right have changed tremendously over the years. There is no longer a battle between capitalism and socialism. The truth is that today the Democrats and the center-left are the supporters of capitalism in the United States. Despite their rhetoric, most on the right do not. The right now supports a system of plutocracy which has been corrupting our free market system.

Today’s conservatives certainly are not fiscally conservative in the traditional sense. While far from perfect, the Democrats have a far better record on the Republicans with regards to the deficit and fiscal responsibility. Bush and Reagan were the biggest backers of big government and were the ones responsible for deficits.

Factors other than economics have become more important in distinguishing between liberals and conservatives. The biggest division came during the Bush years as liberalism came to primarily mean opposition to the neoconservative foreign policy (including the Iraq war) and opposition to the increasing dominance of the religious right in the GOP. In past years Republicans would support the religious right by with their rhetoric. Once in office they would throw them a few small bones, and then laugh them off as the kooks of the party. Under Bush, the kooks took control and social issues increasingly defined left vs. right.

At present I would consider these factors to be the most important characteristics of liberalism compared to conservatism:

  1. Support for individual liberty
  2. Support for a market economy, including the regulations necessary for markets to work fairly and efficiently, as opposed to being corrupted to be used to transfer wealth to the ultra-wealthy
  3. Support for science and reason in interpreting the world and making policy decisions

Some on the left hold economic views which old time conservatives would not be comfortable with, but quite a few do not.

Bush, Reagan, or Palin–Who Is The Most Conservative Of Them All?

Peter Wehner is right in his debate with Mark Levin. George Bush was significantly to the right of Ronald Reagan–except I don’t see that as something to brag about.  The same is true of the present day conservative movement, which would reject Reagan as a RINO or worse if he was still around.

That’s the way the conservative movement has trended. By the end of his career, Barry Goldwater was so fed up with the direction of the right wing that he considered himself a liberal. Reagan certainly was a conservative in his day, but the right wing has moved much further to the right in the past generation.

Levin is also wrong in his view of Sarah Palin. She is no Ronald Reagan. If she were, I would still disagree with her on most issues, but it would be a considerable improvement over how Palin is now. Palin is far to the right of Ronald Reagan, but that is not even the main difference between them. What really characterizes Sarah Palin is not how conservative she is, but her promotion of ignorance as a virtue far beyond what was seen in the conservative movement before Palin.

Sarah Palin Is No Barry Goldwater

Ben Smith writes about Sarah Palin’s possible strategy should she run for president:

The prospect of Sarah Palin running for president is, increasingly, dismissed by a political class that sees her facing weak poll numbers — especially in key early states — and doing nothing to correct them or to build the infrastructure for a run.

But I’m told Palin’s camp is, at least, holding preliminary talks about how a campaign would look if she decides to run. One early decision, a source says: It would be based in Scottsdale, Arizona, where Bristol Palin recently bought a house in nearby Maricopa.

One lesson of Palin’s sometimes-difficult time in the spotlight has been that Alaska is an extremely difficult base for national politics. From a distant political culture to a daunting time difference, Palin hasn’t been terribly well served by the fact that her state is little-known to reporters in the lower 48, and that email inquiries arrive at 3:00 a.m. needing answers by 5:00 a.m.

And Arizona carries its own significance: Basing a campaign there would be a provocative rejection of any lingering political cost from those who connect her harsh rhetoric and Gabrielle Giffords’ shooting — a traditional refusal to retreat. It’s also the core of the politically contested, fast-growing new West.

And it would also hark back, perhaps not to McCain, more a Washington figure than an Arizona one, but to what now stands as the iconic campaign for many base Republican voters: Goldwater ’64.

Sarah Palin basing her campaign based upon Goldwater ’64 is funny on more than one level. First, who other than Sarah Palin would want to build a campaign based upon one which lost in a landslide? Democrats tend to be far less politically savvy than Republicans in many areas, but I have never seen a Democrat suggest running a campaign based upon McGovern ’72.

The implicit view that Sarah Palin is like Barry Goldwater is equally ridiculous. Barry Goldwater opposed the religious right which Palin panders to, and would have been one of the first to stand up to insist that Republicans should have nothing to do with the Tea Party movement. Of course such views from the far right have dominated the GOP for years, well before the Tea Party movement name existed. This is why Goldwater considered himself a liberal in his later years when he saw signs as to which direction the party was going.

Among his many views which differ considerably from those of Sarah Palin and the current right wing, Goldwater supported a woman’s right to an abortion. He supported gay rights, including the right of gays to openly serve in the military. I bet he even understood the First Amendment and wouldn’t go along with Sarah Palin’s frequently repeated belief that the First Amendment was written to protect politicians such as Palin from scrutiny by the press. I also doubt Goldwater would have gone along with Sarah Palin in her attempts to practice censorship in Wasilla (here and here).