exercises in compound storytelling

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Victor Gold: Invasion of the Party Snatchers

Picture of Senator Barry Goldwater.Image via Wikipedia
Victor Gold is the former press aide to Barry Goldwater, the late Senator from Arizona and 1964 Republican Presidential nominee. And that is just about all you need to know before sitting down to read his 2007 Republican Party exposé Invasion of the Party Snatchers: How the Holy-Rollers and the Neo-Cons Destroyed the GOP. Unfortunately his book doesn't really follow through on its title claim: he basically says Goldwater is the standard by which modern Republicans should be measured, that the Party has lost its way and is doomed unless it repents, etc.

I had forgotten how seriously "Goldwater conservatives" take themselves, how seriously they take Goldwater, and how they consider the 1964 campaign to be the Great Lost Cause of the latter half of the 20th Century. So much so that they consider candidate Lyndon Johnson's Daisy ad to be a crime against humanity akin to Sherman's March to the Sea.

Regardless, this is a light and pretty readable book; compared to the usual inside politics fare: while Gold's frequent attempts to be clever more often come across as bitter, his insight into the differences between the elder and younger Presidents George Bush, the route Dick Cheney took to the office of Vice President, the rehabilitation of Donald Rumsfeld, the disappearance of Secretary Colin Powell, etc. make this well worth reading. And while he doesn't make good on his cover promise to show how "Holy Rollers" ruined the Republican Party, he definitely explains how because Christian Right leaders are willing to settle for symbolic gestures and token amounts of money they get virtually nothing of substance in exchange for their votes. Needless to say as a so-called values voter I wish he would have spent more time talking about this and less about how much he despises Vice President Cheney.

This is still a slim volume at less than 250 pages, and it read like less; I just about read it in one sitting. I wouldn't teach it in a history class, but I'd recommend reading it if it can be had at a good price. 

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