Insufferable Republican establishmentarian Sen. Jeff Flake, hawking his new Conscience of a Conservative book, has been channeling Jeb Bush on amnesty, unlimited free trade, and “civility” (read: “spineless appeasement of progressives and the media”) on the cable news shows these past couple of days. It’s certainly the junior senator’s right to make a fool of himself on TV. However, there’s something offensive about this Romney-Ryan-Wall Street Republican’s “conservative appropriation” of Barry Goldwater’s 1960 book of the same title.
Goldwater, along with Phyllis Schlafly, and, of course, Ronald Reagan were actually fighting the establishment George Romney-Nelson Rockefeller wing of the party, which reached the zenith on the dais of the 1964 Republican National Convention at Cow Palace in San Francisco. It was there that Governors Rockefeller of New York, Romney of Michigan, and Bill Scranton of Pennsylvania mounted a challenge to Goldwater, savaging him so brutally that Lyndon Johnson’s campaign used the footage in this commercial:
If that 1964 spot looks familiar, you’re right: Former “Goldwater Girl” Hillary Clinton last year used a similar actor portrayal of an elderly GOP #NeverTrumper savaging Donald Trump.
Flake represents everything Goldwater, Reagan, and Schlafly fought against. Now President Trump fights valiantly against every establishment trope Flake, his colleagues John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and the Bush clan stands for—from the early 1960s through today. However Flake’s odious appropriation of Goldwater’s book title is a bridge too far.
Jeff Flake, you represent no more than this actor did 53 years ago. You may be a lot of things, but you are no Barry Goldwater.