Jonah Goldberg

Quick quiz: Who said, "Is this the time in our nation's history for our federal government to ban Almighty God from our classrooms?" Or, "You will search in vain for any reference to God or religion in the Democratic platform"? Who lamented that "we permit the world's greatest collection of smut to be freely available anywhere"? Who warned that, "We as a nation are not far from the kind of moral decay that has brought on the fall of other nations and people"?

Was it: George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Pat Buchanan or Barry Goldwater?

You'll be forgiven if you picked any of the first three. But everybody knows that Barry Goldwater wasn't that kind of conservative. Right?

That's certainly the way it seems these days. John Dean, a man whose capacity for deception has long been demonstrated by his high regard for himself, has a new book out claiming that conservatives have abandoned the Goldwater tradition. He recently wrote, "For more than 40 years I have considered myself a ŒGoldwater conservative,' and am thoroughly familiar with the movement's canon." The Bush-Cheney White House, Dean assures us, has betrayed the Goldwater tradition: "Bible-thumping, finger-pointing, tongue-lashing attacks on homosexuals are not found in Russell Kirk's classic conservative canons, nor in James Burnham's guides to conservative governing."

Where Dean isn't dishonest - pray tell, what was the last tongue-lashing attack on homosexuals issued from this administration? - he's flatly ignorant.

But don't tell that to Goldwater's own granddaughter, who has a made a documentary for HBO about Grandpa AuH2O that, judging from its press, portrays him as some sort of Bill Maher with cowboy boots. The New York Times says the film "rehabilitates (Goldwater) as a kind of liberal." The Times says his rehabilitation - nothing loaded about that word - hinges on his belief that "government should stay out of our hair."

Of course, when liberals say government should stay out of our hair, they mean Uncle Sam should offer an open bar on abortions and gay marriage licenses. Beyond that, everything's fair game. How else to explain the fact that Ms. Goldwater interviews Ted Kennedy, Al Franken, Hillary Clinton and James Carville - people who support nationalized health care, smoking bans, gun control, hate-crime laws and other libertarian wolfsbane - to testify about Goldwater's libertarian enlightenment.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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