Saturday, September 3, 2016

the last book I ever read (Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, excerpt one)

from Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus by Rick Perlstein:

The ideal politician, it has been written, is an ordinary representative of his class with extraordinary abilities. Goldwater wrote as a member of an imaginary republic of beneficent businessmen-citizens just like himself. It was not for him to observe that the operating deficits brought on by the Goldwater’s stores’ generous benefits package were covered out of interest generated from his wife’s trust fund. (Indiana-born Peggy was an heiress of the Borg-Warner fortune. Her family vacationed in Arizona, where they socialized with the most prominent local family—the Goldwaters—as a matter of course.) Goldwater’s approach to any political problem invariably derived from the evidence of his own eyes—an attitude most visible in his views on discrimination. “There never was a lot of it,” he recalled of the Phoenix of his youth. Yet when he was eleven the chamber of commerce took out an ad boasting of Phoenix’s “very small percentage of Mexicans, Negroes, or foreigners.” Barry Goldwater delighted in, and journalists delighted in repeating, his corny put-downs of anti-Semites. Why couldn’t he play nine holes, he was supposed to have responded when kicked off a golf course, since he was only half Jewish? They reported how when he took over as president of Phoenix Country Club in 1949, he said if they didn’t allow his friend Harry Rosenzweig to join he would blackball every name. Rosenzweig became the first Jew the club ever admitted. Left out of the tale was that another Jew wasn’t allowed in for a decade.

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