The ReluctantrnCandidaternby Alan MillerrnBefore the Storm: Barry Goldwaterrnand the Unmaking of thernAmerican Consensusrnby Rick PerhteinrnNew York: Hill and Wang Publishers:rn671 pp., $30.00rnAs a consenative undergraduate studentrnduring the early 1960’s, I spentrnmany a long night engaged in animatedrnpolitical argument with a close friendrnwhose supercharged Q was exceededrnonly hv his condescending manner. Thernfellow never Hred of reminding me that,rnyes, there were a few responsible Republicanrnpublic officials. He would alwaysrntick off a very short list of them, whichrnroutinely included such liberal GOPrnicons as Sen. Clifford Case of New Jersey,rnand, of course. Nelson Rockefeller.rnMv friend summarily dismissed conser-rnatives as denizens of the netherworld,rncharacterizing them as either Southernrnbigots who believed that blacks, women,rnRoman Catholics, and jews should bernkept in their place, or as benighted boorsrnwho occupied the lower rungs of the evolutionar)’rnladder.rnThen, in 1964, a cantankerous Arizonarnsenator confounded pundits andrnRepublican leaders alike by capturingrnthe GOP presidential nomination. BarryrnGoldwater’s sudden ascendance, and thernnational conservatie movement that hernhelped set in motioir, are the subject ofrnRick Perlstein’s provocative yet sympathehcrnbook.rnRather than resorting to boilerplate explanationsrnfor Lyndon Johnson’s landslidernvictory, Perlstein concentrates onrnthe shifting political landscape. He keelhaulsrnthe pundits for smugly dismissingrnGoldwater’s candidacy, citing their prematurernpostmortem as “one of the mostrndramatic failures of discernment in thernhistory of American journalism.” Twornyears later, he notes, “conservatives sorndominated Congress that [LBJJ couldn’trneven get a majoritv’ to appropriate moneyrnfor rodent control in the slums.” ThernHouse Republican Caucus elected asrnchair of its policy committee John Rliodes,rna Goldwater protege from Arizona. Moreover,rnten new conservative Republicanrngovernors —most notably Ronald Reaganrnin California —won election. (Not badrnfor a conservative movement that hadrnbeen written off as a mere political footnoternby the so-called wise men after thern1964 election.) Perlstein reminds us of arngrowing national discontent with PresidentrnJohn Kennedy in 1963 that causedrnmore and more voters to reconsiderrnwhether he deserved reelection: hicreasingrncivil unrest combined with a rudderlessrnforeign policy had prompted many tornquestion Kennedy’s competence. Morernand more people began to clamor for arnplainspoken leader who would changernthe political dialogue.rnNovember 22, 1963, of course, alteredrnthe political landscape, and the hazy afterglowrnof Camelot lulled much of therncountry into nostalgic reveries about thernfiillen prince and what might have beenrnhad he lived to fulfill his destinv. P”ew recalledrnthat Kennedy’s fateful Dallas triprnwas basically intended to help close thernever-widening political breach in thernDeep South. President Johnson acknowledgedrnthe magnitude of that breach when,rnafter signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964,rnhe told his staff, “I think we just gave thernSouth to the Republicans for vour lifetimernand mine.”rnPerlstein also documents the mercilessrnmedia mugging that Goldwater receivedrnfrom the moment he became the GOPrnpresidential nominee and decampedrnfrom the Cow Palace in San Francisco.rnMagazines and newspapers that had formerlyrnpraised his forthrightness began tornpummel him as a reckless political extremi.rnst. The normallv GOP-friendly SaturdayrnEvening Post reflected this sulfurousrnsentiment when it recommendedrnhis crushing defeat for the salvation of thernparty. Psychiatrists and psychologistsrnwere trotted out to question Goldwater’srnsanit}’. The Democrats, under directionrnfrom Bill Movers, proved adept at characterrnassassination, depicting Goldwater asrna trigger-happ’ wild man who was itchingrnfor full-scale nuclear war in Vietiram.rnMeantime, Goldwater’s many misstepsrnplayed into the hands of his critics.rnDownright disdainful of the hoopla involvedrnin rimning a national campaign,rnthe reluctant candidate was far morerncomfortable articulating his philosophicalrndifferences with an overweening federalrngovernment. As a presidential candidate,rnGoldwater was too honest, stubbornlyrnrefusing to pander to his audiences.rnInstead, he im’eighed against SocialrnSecurity when addressing Florida retirees,rnassailed the Tennessee Valley Authorityrnbefore the ver)- folks whornbenefited from the federal project, condemnedrnfederal cotton subsidies in thernpresence of Southern cotton growers,rnand criticized a major defense contract tornGeneral Dynamics in Fort Worth, ‘i’exas,rnthe home of the military-aircraft divisionrnof the company. Goldwater’s dislike ofrncampaigning showed in his desultoryrnrambling speeches, as in his response tornsupporters who kept chanting, “We wantrnBarry”: “If you’ll shut up, you’ll get him.”rnPerlstein claims that Goldwater’s biggestrnstrategic blunder was jettisoning F.rnClifton White, who was primarily responsiblernfor the senator’s success in gainingrnthe nomination. Wliite’s command andrncontrol of supporters at the conventionrnwas masterfid. Yet he was discarded soonrnthereafter in favor of such Goldwater confidantesrnas Denison Kitchel and KarlrnHess, who were clearly beyond theirrndepth.rnDespite his several shortcomings, therncandidate remained a straight-shooter.rnWlien Lee Edwards implored the senatorrnto capitalize on his rugged Western persona,rnGoldwater shot back, “Lee, we’rernnot going to have that kind of crap on thisrncampaign. This is going to be a campaignrnof principles, not of personalities. Irndon’t want that kind of Madison Avenuernstuff, and if you try it, I will kick your assrnout of this office.”rnHis opponent was not so scrupulous,rnallowing his operatives to suggest thatrnGoldwater would savage Social Security,rnstart World War III, roll back civil-rightsrnlaws, and otherwise unleash the forces ofrndarkness upon the land. These horrorrnstories were commonly accepted on collegerncampuses, where this thoroughlyrndeceirt man was routinely heckled as arnhatemonger. Late in the campaign, I attendedrna Goldwater speech at ToledornLlnivcrsit)’. No sooner had the senatorrnbegun to speak than he was showeredrnwith verbal abuse from the crowd. Hernhad to cut short his remarks. Ronald Reagan,rnwho campaigned for Goldwater,rnhad far better crowd reactions. His abilit’rnto mesmerize an audience promptedrnABC newsman Howard K. Smith to commentrnthat Reagan had missed his calling:rnHe should have gone into politics. (Thernfabled speech that Reagan delivered towardrnthe campaign’s end prompted comparisonsrnwith William Jennings Bryan’srnfiery “Cross of Gold” oration before tiiern24/CHRONICLESrnrnrn