On "The Daily Show" Thursday night, host Jon Stewart interviewed filmmaker C.C. Goldwater about her HBO documentary "Mr. Conservative," about her grandfather, Barry Goldwater. Stewart praised the film, and asked about the surprising liberal tilt of the talking heads in the film. (There were a few more conservatives in there than advertised, including Richard Viguerie and Morton Blackwell.) But the granddaughter clearly has a very chilly feeling about the present-day conservative movement:
Stewart: “Barry Goldwater, what’s an interesting story in the film, a lot of the people that are talking are considered the leading voices of the Democrats or the liberal side. Hillary Clinton -- ”
Goldwater: “James Carville.”
Stewart: “—being a Goldwater girl. James Carville, Al Franken. George Will on the Republican side, but not a lot of sort of modern-day Republicans or conservatives.”
Goldwater: “Well, because we wanted to let Barry represent that thought. Barry wasn't -- you know, Barry's conservative message and what he was all about is not what the conservative party is today.
Goldwater: “So when you see the film, you kind of get what the conservative, the seed of the conservative western thought process was all about. And you know, we have these various people on that were just representing a different, a whole different stream of consciousness thought because it would have been too predictable if we would have had Karl Rove on.”
What's predictable in the film is the media people in it declaring their liberalism, or denying a liberal bias. Here was some examples:
First up, Helen Thomas remembered the 1964 presidential campaign: “[Lyndon] Johnson had him nailed. Whose finger do you want on the button?”
Former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee: “The Goldwater people thought the press was out to get Goldwater, that the press reported stories with a Democratic bias. They were suspicious of the questions.”
Former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite said it was all Goldwater's fault with his remarks about tactical nuclear weapons: "He made the mistakes himself, more than the press overemphasizing. It should have been handled delicately. He didn’t handle it delicately. Then the press pointed out he was getting more outlandish, the more intense his campaign became.”
Former PBS anchor Robert MacNeil: "A lot of these things sounded very unreasonable to the press that was reporting them. Sometimes his aides would say, ‘don’t report what he says. Report what he means.’"
CBS "60 Minutes" commentary Andy Rooney declared that he "loved" Goldwater, despite the politics: "I had not liked him as a politician. He didn’t stand for anything I stood for. I voted against him when he ran for office. And I was just so surprised that he was delightful as he was.”
Ben Bradlee loved the Goldwater fuss at social conservatives: “He was a maverick, in that sense, he didn’t care what the Republican bible said. I mean, he was a unique character."
He came right after a demonstration of Goldwater's social liberalism, interrupted by Hillary Clinton praise:
Goldwater on Capitol Hill: “I came to this Congress 30 years ago opposing concentration of power in the hands of unions. And I have to oppose it today power in the “hands of church groups.”
Goldwater on Larry King Live: “I saw no harm at all in having gays in the military.”
Hillary: "I admired him, I admired his outspokenness. His wonderful sort of western ways and values."
Goldwater: "A woman has the freedom, in my opinion, if she does not want to give birth to a child, for any reason, she does not have to.”
Here are some other snippets of Sen. Clinton:
"I was born into a very Republican family, and when I was a freshman in high school, and I had a wonderful social studies teacher, who was a proud conservative, he had us read 'Conscience of a Conservative.' And I ended up writing a long term paper about being conservative."
"In 1964, I was a Goldwater girl. My best friend and I decided we would sing up and we got to go to a couple of functions and pass out you know, cookies and lemonade. We got to dress up in cowgirl hats and sashes and boots." (Right after this, James Carville says: “They were very suburban, very white, very… you know, the kind of people I didn’t like very much, frankly.”)
"After my husband was elected president, Sen. Goldwater read somewhere that I had supported him, and he actually sent me a big box of wonderful barbecue sauce, and hot sauce, and it gave me a chance to, you know, meet and thank someone who meant something in my life."