Date: Aug 30, 2006 12:28 PM
Subject: Goldwater Revisionism
Dear Mr. Goldberg,
You conclude your piece from today's NRO, "Fool's Goldwater," by claiming that "what confuses many people is this idea that social conservatism and small-government conservatism are inherently at odds," but I'd assert that this antagonism is much more fundamental than you like to think. In theory, a "small-government conservative" (that is, a "liberatarian" or "classical liberal") should abhor the desires of a strict christian social conservative for a legislative or judicial imposition upon the rest of the country of a personal moral code (with repsect to a woman's right to make decisions about her own body, for example, or a gay couple's right to the same civil protections enjoyed by heterosexuals). Likewise, this same "small-government conservative" should reject this president's fiscal boondoggles, nation-building exercises and unprecedented invocations of executive power.
What has kept these two fundamentally opposed ideologies together for the past 42 years is coming unravelled. They have held their noses all this time for the sake of political expediency and at the expense political principle, yet they are increasingly finding their respective stenches to be too repugnant.
This president will be the GOP's LBJ.
P.S. I'd like to hear more about how Goldwater (according to White) "introduced the condition and quality of American morality and life as a subject of political debate." I mean, I love how Goldwater opposed abortion until (according to John Miller's citation from the Edwards bio) it became a real life issue in his own family, then he's all for it. Near as I can tell, Goldwater's moral legacy is to have made demonizing "welfare queens" fashionable for the likes of Reagan and Gingrich.