Thursday, January 26, 2012

Newt 1968: Gingrich led protests against nude censorship

Newt Gingrich as professor at West Georgia College, circa 1975. 
In the continuing spirit of our recent posts on the 2012 Republican candidates, we give you this nice piece of reporting yestersday from Reuters, sent to us by the Free Expression Network (FEN).  Enjoy... 

(Reuters) - Republican candidate Newt Gingrich attacks President Barack Obama as a "radical" and "community organizer," but as a Tulane University graduate student in 1968, he helped lead an anti-censorship protest in defense of sexually explicit photographs.

While Republican foe Mitt Romney steered clear of the college campus tumult that year by doing Mormon missionary work in France, (see our post Mitt Romney Part III, the next "Baby Boomer" President? )  Gingrich warned Tulane's president of an impending "clash of wills" over the university administrator's decision to ban publication of explicit photographs in "Sophia," a literary supplement for the student newspaper "The Tulane Hullabaloo."

The episode illustrates some of the same pugnaciousness that Gingrich now displays as a candidate for the Republican nomination.

It also underscores a sharp evolution in his views on civil protest, an issue that has played out during the campaign because of the growing strength of the Occupy Wall Street movement. During a forum last November, Gingrich suggested that participants in the Wall Street protests, "Go get a job, right after you take a bath."

.  ....

A spokesman for Gingrich's presidential campaign did not respond to an email requesting comment.

Accounts published by the Hullabaloo, retrieved from university archives, describe the standoff over two artistic images the literary magazine sought to publish.


One photo showed a Baton Rouge sculptor posing beside what was described as a "mechanized box" carrying "symbolic descriptions" of human body parts, including sex organs. The second image showed a naked sculptor posing with a statue that depicted what Hullabaloo described as "male and female figures with enlarged sexual organs."

A proposed caption described one photograph as "an ironical statement on the fad for nudism."

Tulane authorities at the time, including President Herbert Longenecker, banned publication, argued that the images "are considered to be obscene" and could expose the university to "criminal prosecution."

Demonstrations erupted, including a picket of Longenecker's residence.  Within days, the movement split into factions. Gingrich's group called itself Mobilization of Responsible Tulane Students, otherwise known as MORTS.  The same day that MORTS announced its formation, student picket lines spread to the New Orleans offices of Merrill Lynch, a local bank, a  department store and a local TV station.

On March 11, 1968, MORTS leaders, including Gingrich, met with  Longenecker and other college officials. Typewritten minutes held in college archives show that Gingrich was one of the more outspoken leaders at the meeting, employing the kind of bombastic rhetoric that has been a trademark of his national political career.

"It is now a question of power and if the student body wants to demonstrate until May - we are down to a clash of wills," Gingrich told Longenecker, according to the minutes, which were obtained by Reuters.  As the meeting concluded, Gingrich warned: "There will be increasing attempts of the student body ... to test the guide-lines and test the administration. As long as the student body is aroused it will meet."

Eventually, the protests waned and the university held firm on the photograph ban. Some members of Gingrich's protest group later went on to form the Tulane Liberation Front, which occupied a student center and demanded that the swimming pool be opened to the general public.

Though college campuses were hotbeds for political dissent into the 1970s, Gingrich's student activism waned. University records show that by the summer of 1969, his protest days were behind him. He had
persuaded Tulane to allow him to teach a non-credit course in futurology called "When You are 49; The Year 2000."

Reporting By Mark Hosenball in Washington; additional reporting by Kathy Finn in New Orleans; Editing by Marilyn W. Thompson and Philip Barbara

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

POLITICS: Why Newt Gingrich won South Carolina and may become President!

I think I have figured out the message that worked among Republicans in South Carolina, has been driving the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street-ers, and could work nationwide in 2012.  It comes straight out of the 1976 movie Network.  

Click on top to see the original.  (Ignore the French subtitles.  This was the best clip I could find of the full scene.) Doesn't he look more than vaguely like Newt?

Better yet, rent the movie from Netflix and see it in full context.  But before getting carried away, remember, in the film, Howard Beale (the ranting, mentally unstable newsman played brilliantly by Peter Finch) is totally exploited by the TV network executives (Faye Dunaway and Robert Duvall) , and ultimately assassinated on air when his ratings go down.   

The public hot button, then as now, is the same: rage.  Rage from the left, rage from the right, no matter.  We live in hard times: depression, recession, fear, unfairness, broken dreams, empty promises, corruption, shrill politics, arrogant finance, social gridlock, and the rest.  How can there not be outrage?   

The one who can figure out how best to tap it -- be it Gingrich through his rants, Obama though his intellect, or someone else -- will be hard to stop. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

GUEST BLOGGER: Joseph Farris on a soldier's-eye view of World War II

Long before becoming a popular cartoonist for The New Yorker and other top magazines, Joseph Farris shipped out to World War II from his home in Danbury, Connecticut, as a young Army Private aboard the U.S.S. General Gordon in October 1944, bound for France as part of Company M, 398th Infantry.  Here, he found time to hone his craft through dozens of wartime sketches and paintings while sending over 400 letters home. He recently published an illustrated memoir of his wartime experience -- A SOLDIER'S SKETCHBOOK: From the Frontlines of World War II.  We are happy today to give you an excerpt.  Enjoy....  

HILL 578

Our morale couldn’t have dropped much lower than on that fateful day of November 20th, 1944. The Company M morning reports coldly reported that Lt. Gray, our platoon leader, had been killed in action. He was tall, slender and handsome, probably in his 30’s. We were all fond of him and more importantly, we had full confidence in his leadership.

We were a heavy machine gun squad assigned to Co. L rifle company and because of the bulkiness and weight of our weapons, we lost contact with them. Hill 578 was steep and forested and Lt. Gray ordered us to pause while he tried to connect with Co. L. We smiled as he crawled past me. He knelt behind a tree and peered ahead when suddenly a shot rang out. It left a small, almost inconspicuous hole in the side of his head. We had suffered our first KIA during our first combat with the enemy. We heard that when the Germans retreated, they left behind one out of every ten as sniper. We now had to be alert in every direction-front, side, back, above and below for hidden mines.

Tech. Sergeant Ted Lederer immediately took charge, made contact with the rifle company and led us to the top of Hill 578 where we commenced to dig in when all hell broke loose. We quickly full-loaded my machine gun and the first gunner sprayed the area indiscriminately. I, the second-gunner, was feeding the ammunition belt. I looked up at the first gunner and was startled to see that he was covering his eyes with one hand and firing wildly with the other. I quickly pushed him aside and took over the gun. We didn’t expect to come out of the battle alive but after much firing, we finally wiped out the enemy. The first-gunner shamefully crawled down to the foxhole in front of us to see if the rifleman who had dived into his unfinished hole to escape our “friendly” fire was safe. The rifleman turned out to be a friend from the same hometown as the first gunner! The squad leader had also lost control of himself and both he and the first gunner were taken off the front lines and sent back. We never saw either again. I became squad leader. I was a battle hardened twenty-year-old.

Three enemy snipers had been captured and it was quite certain that one of the three had killed Lt. Gray. One of the rifle platoon leaders, a close friend of the Lieutenant’s, marched the prisoners into the woods. We heard three shots. Lieutenant Gray had been avenged.

Joseph Farris is has been a contract cartoonist with The New Yorker since 1971, and has done covers for The New Yorker, Barron's, Harvard Magazine, ABA Journal, Indiana Alumni, Industry Week and many others. For almost twenty years his cartoons were featured in Stern magazine in Germany. Visit him at

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

GUEST BLOGGER: James Landers on the history of customer coupons

One of the original consumer "coupons," innovated by Coca-Cola's Asa Chandler in 1887.

Couponing has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially since the economic downturn of 2008 as consumers have to scrape by on less.  But coupons and the practices they support have been around for a lot longer in this country:

  • The first real coupons appeared in 1887 when the Coca-Cola Company was incorporated with drugstore owner (and soon-to-be business tycoon) Asa Candler as a partner. Chandler had the revolutionary idea of supplying soda fountains with free syrup and giving out slips of paper that entitled holders to a free drink. The campaign was incredibly successful.  By 1913, an estimated one in nine Americans had received a free Coke, for a total of about 8.5 million drinks. In this way the birth of the coupon coincided with, and heralded in, the ascension of an iconic American corporation.
 Candler invented the word "coupon," from the French "couper", which means "to cut."
  • In the early 1900s, C.W. Post used widespread coupon distribution to market his new Grape Nuts breakfast cereal.  Each coupon offered a one-cent discount on a single box.  Post's campaign too was extremely successful and helped both to skyrocket his own company while establishing the concept coupons in the American consciousness.
Post also utilized other innovative advertising techniques such as free samples, product demonstrations, and recipe booklets.  Other cereal companies followed Post's example and promoted themselves by printing coupons on their packages; many continue to do so today.

  • Coupons grew more popular during the first half of the 20th century. They got a serious boost during the Depression of the 1930s, when people found it absolutely necessary to conserve money even on groceries. Clipping coupons became part of the household routine.
Chain supermarkets employed large-scale coupon giveaways during their expansion in the 1940s. These campaigns helped to cement their central position in the food industry and dominate the market over older, local shops.  In 1957, the Nielsen Coupon Clearing House, an institution dealing solely in coupon redemption, was founded.  Its creation symbolized the growing importance of the coupon industry in America.
  • The industry continued to grow in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, both in coupon users and methods of distribution. By 1965, half the households in America were using coupons.  Coupons began to appear in newspapers, on sales receipts at grocery stores, and on shelves in electronic form.
The advent of the Internet in the early 1990s brought the first appearance of online-distributed, printable coupons.  By 2003, 77% of consumers used coupons in some form. Over the next few years, new technologies like smartphone apps allowed for even more opportunities and mediums for coupon distribution.
  • The U.S. government distributed coupons for the first time in 2009 -- over 64 million of them, each offering $40 off the purchase of a digital-to-analog television converter box.
The history of the coupon in America is the story of a single bright idea that spawned a booming and vital industry, one that continues to grow and diversify today, spurred on by the climate of economic instability just as it was in the 1930s.

James Landers is with the site Couponing that offers top-retailer coupon information, couponing tips and how-to guides.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mitt Romney, Part III: The next "baby boomer" president?

That's 19-year old Mitt Romney on the right, holding the sign that says "Speak Out! Don't sit in!"  Romney was one of about 150 students protesting against an anti-draft "sit-in" at Stanford University in May 1966.  

Here's one last thought about Mitt Romney before I drop the subject for the week--

As a proud member of the "baby boom" generation (born October 1951 and weaned on "Rocky and Bullwinkle"), I pay special attention to people my age.  And when it comes to politics, I always assume that anyone from my era who grew up in the late 1960s and early 1970s had to be shaped by it in some fundamental way.  But the question is -- how?  

So far, we have had two "baby boom" presidents in America.  They were different as night and day:
  • Democrat Bill Clinton, born 1946,  spent the late 1960s in college (Georgetown, then Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, then Yale Law School), joined anti-War protests, enjoyed the chance to "not inhale" marijuana, avoided the draft, and emerged as a leftist George McGovern-style politico.
  • Republican George W. Bush, also born 1946, joined the opposite crowd.  At Yale he was a frat brother and "Skull and Bones"-er, then he joined the Texas Air National Guard (though carefully avoided Vietnam) before starting Harvard Business School.  You'd never catch him at some hippy anti-war rally, and his drug of choice was alcohol until he gave it up in the mid-1980s.
Anyone in college in the late 1960s knew both of these types.  But now we have Mitt Romney, possibly a third "baby boom" president.  Where does he fit?  Not surprisingly, someplace else. 

Mitt Romney (born 1947) spent most of the turbulent late 1960s out of the country.  In mid-1966, he left for a 3-year Mormon missionary assignment to France, a traditional rite-of-passage in his family.  During this time, stationed in Le Harve, then Nantes, Bordeaux, and Paris, young Mitt mostly kept away from politics, even as his father was running for President in 1967 and 1968.  (See Part II of this series.)  Mitt's missionary work forbid him from smoking, drinking, or dating (though he already was committed to his future wife Anne back in the USA). 

He avoided military service in Vietnam during these years first through a student draft deferment and then a ministerial deferment.  

Still, Mitt had a point of view.  The Vietnam War was an increasingly hot issue in 1966 and 1967 as President Lyndon B. Johnson was escalating American involvement from 16,500 to almost 500,000 troops, mostly draftees.  Not surprisingly, protests centered on college campuses, and focused on the draft.    "Hell no !!  We won't go !!!"      

At first, Mitt supported the War.  The photograph at the top of this post, published recently by the London Daily Mail,  shows 19 year-old Mitt at Stanford University -- where he studied for one year before leaving for France.  Mitt is on the far right holding a picket sign.  Here's how the MailOnline described the scene:  "The photograph was taken on May 20, 1966, shortly after a group of students had taken over the office of Stanford University President Wallace Sterling.... They were protesting at the introduction of a test designed to help the authorities decide who was eligible for the draft.  Mr Romney was one of approximately 150 conservative students who counter-picketed the sit-in."

In other words, Romney was protesting against the protesters -- supporting the War and the draft, despite his own deferment.   

In France as a Mormon missionary during 1967-1969, Mitt hardly escaped the maelstrom.  He was present in Paris for the May 1968 Paris general strike and student revolt.  According to various accounts,  he was frequently challenged by French students about America's role in Vietnam (France itself had left Vietnam in 1954 after its defeat at Dien Bien Phu), which Mitt always still backed.

When Mitt returned to the US in mid-1969 to finish school at Brigham Young University, his draft deferment ran out.  But he had luck on his side and drew a number 300 in the 1969 draft lottery, making him effectively exempt.  (Full disclosure: I pulled a number 14 in the 1970 lottery, creating some major life complications back then.  Maybe more on that some other time.)  Mitt was surprised at how things had changed while he was away, particularly his own father's new strong views against the War.  Mitt quickly changed as well.  In 1970, the Boston Globe quoted him as criticizing the War.  "If it wasn't a political blunder to move into Vietnam," he told a reporter, "I don't know what is."  

By mid-1971, however, all this was over.  Mitt had enrolled at the Harvard Business and Law schools and was on to his next career in business and finance.

So what does this tell us about Mitt Romney?  Which side of the 1960s culture wars was he on? Apparently both at different times, and neither very strongly.   Mitt followed his own drummer -- to France, to Brigham Young, and to Harvard.   And apparently he is following his own drummer still.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Special Feature: Primary Schedule Map

After Mitt Romney's big win yesterday in New Hampshire, it remains to be seen if the Republican presidential nomination race now will quickly finish, or whether the anti-Romneys --  Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Santorum, Perry and the rest -- can drag it out.  Either way, to help follow the action, here (below) is a special treat courtesy of our techno-wizard friends at ESRI in Redlands, California, the country's leading  experts in cutting-edge Geospatial technology.

It is an interactive "smart map" of this year's presidential primary contest.  Click on the different buttons (the map, the dates, the state names) and see what happens.

Smart maps like this (or "Geospatial Information Systems") are one of the great innovation of our time, from the navigation systems in our cars to Google Earth to the data-rich displays on CNN and other TV networks to the GIS grids used by governments for complex infrastructure planning. This relatively simple one just scratches the surface.  Click here to see a few more.

Presidential Primary Election Calendar Map
Use this timeline map to see the sequence of US primaries and caucuses in 2012. Clicking on a state will show you the number of registered voters and their political attitudes.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

REALITY CHECK: Mitt Romney -- Some relevant family history. Part II, "Brainwashing."

Yes, Mitt Romney has flip-flopped.  In 2002, he ran for governor of Massachusetts as a pro-choice moderate.  Today in 2012 he paints himself a dedicated pro-life conservative.  Who is the real Mitt?  This contradiction has raised alarms for true believers on both sides, making it his biggest single vulnerability today as a candidate for President of the United States.  

But Mitt Romney has navigated this minefield with spectacular ease.  It's as if he's been preparing for it his entire life.  And that, in fact, is where the real truth lies.  Mitt has a family skeleton on this point.

In Part I of this post (click here), I mentioned that Mitt's father, three-term Michigan governor George W. Romney, also ran for the White House back in 1968, when Mitt was just 21 years old.  But George Romney in late 1967, just as his campaign was getting started, saw it collapse over a classic verbal gaffe -- telling a reporter he had been "brainwashed" by Pentagon officials into supporting the Vietnam war.  (See the full actual 1967 clip, above.)

For his father George, this ultimate "flip-flip" exploded as a national embarrassment.  For young Mitt, it taught a painful lesson.

The gaffe
Son and father, Mitt and George Romney, with mother Lenore, early 1960s.
George Romney started his campaign for president with high hopes.  He had won his third election as Michigan governor in 1966 by a 580,000 vote margin, making him one of the most successful and popular Republicans in the country.  He had strong backing from Party leaders wanting to avoid a repeat of Barry Goldwater's disastrous 1964 defeat.  He led Richard Nixon by 8 full points in the Gallop Poll for the Republican nomination at the opening of 1967.  

But George Romney still had to address the key burning issue facing the country that year: the Vietnam War. 

Since August 1964, when President Lyndon B. Johnson had pressed the US Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution authorizing military intervention in South Vietnam, Johnson had escalated American involvement from 16,500 to almost 500,000 troops in 1967, including large numbers of draftees and accompanied by massive bombing of the North.  Casualties mounted; over 30,000 US soldiers would die under LBJ's watch with no clear strategy and no end in sight.   

Still, at this early stage, few American politicians dared to publicly criticize the War for fear of being labelled disloyal, unpatriotic, or weak -- despite the fact that an increasingly militant antiwar movement was taking hold across the country.  

George Romney had visited Vietnam in 1965, been briefed by military leaders, and been an early strong supporter of the War.  But like many Americans, he grew skeptical over time.  On August 31, 1967, in a routine interview with Detroit station WKBD-TV, reporter Lou Gordon confronted Romney on the issue.  He quoted Romney's early support of the War, then quoted his recent criticism, and asked about the contradiction.  The result was disaster.

Listen to Romney's answer (click on the image above).  At the time, most people simply heard the word "brainwashing" and ignored the rest.  And why not?  It was a terrible choice. Barely a decade since the Korean War in which North Koreans used psychological torture against American POWs -- actual "brainwashing" -- it sounded whiney and evasive, like Romney was charging the American generals with bad faith, while also acknowledging his own ignorance and suggesting some psychological disorder.  All this, plus he was criticizing a wartime president with soldiers under fire.

The reaction was immediate.  Vermont Governor Philip H. Hoff, a friendly Republican who had accompanied Romney on his 1965 trip to Vietnam and attended the same briefings with the generals, called Romney's remark "outrageous, kind of stinking ... Either he's a most na├»ve man or he lacks judgment."  Senator Eugene McCarthy (D.-Minnesota), running against LBJ for the Democratic nomination, turned it into a joke, saying that in Romney's case, "a light rinse would have been sufficient."  Within days, Romney's support cratered, plummeting from 24% down to 14% in the Gallup Poll, giving Richard Nixon a large lead.

After that, critics would label Romney as indecisive and  inept.   Two weeks before the New Hampshire primary in March 1968, New York governor Nelson Rockefeller would announce his own availability for the Republican nomination and George Romney would pull out of the race.  

But listen to the rest of Romney's actual answer to the 1967 question -- not just the word "brainwashing."  What he said, in sum, was that on his original 1965 visit to Vietnam, the generals gave him an unrealistic, over-optimistic report based on bad information, and that, since then, he had done his own independent homework, studied the facts, and changed his mind.   The bottom line?  George Romney was right about Vietnam.  LBJ and his generals had misled the country into a war that ultimately cost some 58,000 American lives.

Impact on young Mitt
Young Mitt Romney was not at his father's side during this crisis.  Instead, Mitt was off in France in 1967 and 1968 on a Morman missionary adventure.  Still, he followed his father's campaign closely.  At the end, he received a letter from his father telling him simply "Your mother and I are not personally distressed. As a matter of fact, we are relieved."    

Mitt as a 21 year-old, certainly understood his father's 1967 views on Vietnam, and was even quoted himself as criticizing the War in a 1970 interview with the Boston Globe.  "If it wasn't a political blunder to move into Vietnam," he told the reporter, "I don't know what is."    

Recently, Mitt Romney talked about the episode to the Washington Post, how it made him more cautious and circumspect.  "My own experience has taught me you have to exercise care," he explained.   For instance:   "After 9/11, I got a question about whether the [Olympic] Games [which he was then managing in Salt Lake City] would be cancelled if another terrorist incident occurred ... I could see the headline.  'Romney May Consider Canceling the Games' ... So I knew I couldn't answer the question directly.  I said that it would be 'unthinkable' to cancel the Games."

As for the "brainwashing" episode itself, Mitt said this: "My father later did not look back.... It was not a big issue in our house."  

Let's hope that Mitt Romney learned the right lesson from his father's 1967 disaster.  Right or wrong, in politics, how you say something can be just as important as what you say.   Mitt has had several years to prepare to explain his flip flops on Obama's health care bill, his Massachusetts pro-choice statements, and the rest.  You won't hear Mitt Romney complain about being "brainwashed" by anyone.  But hopefully, this will not stop him in the future from actually keeping his mind open and changing it when it's the right thing to do.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

REALITY CHECK: Mitt Romney - Some relevant family history. Part I, Goldwater 1964.

It is no secret that Mitt Romney -- this week's Iowa Caucus winner and now clear frontrunner for the Republican 2012 presidential nomination -- is not the first member of his family to seek the White House.  Mitt's father, three-term Michigan governor George W. Romney, also made the attempt back in 1968.  Mitt was just 21 years old at the time, and his father came achingly close before seeing his campaign for the Republican ticket collapse over a classic verbal gaffe -- telling reporters he had been "brainwashed" by Pentagon officials into supporting the Vietnam war.  But more on that later.

  Then-Michigan Gov. George Romney (father of now-presidential
candidate Mitt Romney), seated in 1964 with then-Republican presidential
candidate Barry Goldwater, whom Romney refused to enforse and called
an "extremist."  At the podium is future president Gerald Ford, then still 
a Congressman from Michigan.
Mitt's father also played a key role in the bitter 1964 Republican split over its nomination that year of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, the arch-conservative who lost in a landslide to Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson while inspiring future conservative leaders like Ronald Reagan.  This is where we'll start right now.

Today's 2012 Republican presidential contest has much in common with 1964.  Then as now, conservative activists had launched a strident revolt against what they considered a much-too-"moderate" party elite.  

Today, the two sides are personified by Mitt Romney, the more moderate, versus several competing conservative "anti-Romneys" -- Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, and the rest.    Back in 1964, these two sides were led by Goldwater on the right and, for the moderates, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller.  George Romney stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Rockefeller.

It is easy today to forget the passions of 1964.  President John Kennedy had just been assassinated a few months earlier in November 1963.  Americans feared nuclear annihilation from Soviet Russia, and agitation for (and against) Civil Rights reached its peak.  The watershed 1964 Civil Rights Act passed the Senate that summer only after a two-month filibuster.   

Barry Goldwater, a World War II Air Force pilot, two-term US Senator, and author of  The Conscience of a Conservative, happily represented the far right.   He saved his sharpest elbows for eastern moderates in his own Party.  "[S]ometimes I think this country would be better off if we could just saw off the Eastern Seaboard and let it float out to sea," he once told reporters in 1961.  As for Russian communists, he joked that the U.S. military should just "lob one [nuclear bomb] into the men's room of the Kremlin" and solve the problem for good.  

Goldwater voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act which, in the heat of that year, drew major attention, especially in the South.  He denied being racist, but when asked to renounce prejudice in a formal way, he refused -- presumably to avoid offending southern white supporters. "In your heart you know he's right," chanted friends.  Enemies replied: "In your guts, you know he's nuts."

Nelson and Happy Rockefeller on their 1963 honeymoon.
 Nelson Rockefeller, by contrast, oozed with eastern elitism.  The wealthy grandson of Standard Oil titan John D. Rockefeller, the New York governor not only practiced liberal big-city politics but also crossed a cultural taboo in 1963 by divorcing his wife and immediately marrying a women fifteen years younger named Happy who also had recently divorced her own husband and ceded him custody of their four children.  Few doubted that the two had carried on a secret affair for years.  In 1964, adultury still mattered.

Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller fought a string of bitter primary contests in early 1964, but Goldwater's triumph in California gave him by far the most delegates.  When the Party met for its nominating convention at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, tension boiled.  A last-ditch stop-Goldwater effort quickly materialized.  Leading it was George W. Romney.

George Romney had been elected Michigan governor in 1962.  A former auto executive, he had created a state income tax and, like Rockefeller, was a strong civil rights backer.  In June 1964, watching the growing split in his Party, Romney had no trouble picking sides.  He joined 12 other Republican governors that month in blasting Goldwater, declaring "I will do everything within my power to keep him from becoming the party's presidential nominee."  Reaching the convention in San Francisco, he told the platform committee to "unequivocally reject extremism of the right and the left" -- a clear slap at Goldwater and his followers.

Charges of "extremism" against Goldwater crescendoed over the next few days, culminating in an ugly scene as Nelson Rockefeller himself was loudly booed when he addressed the convention(see clip above).  Eight different candidates received first ballot votes (including 41 for Romney), but this was not enough to stop the inevitable.  In accepting the nomination, Goldwater shot back at his critics: "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."  

After San Francisco, Republican moderates abandoned the party in droves.  Still, Barry Goldwater hoped he might be able to win over George Romney.  He reached out, and Romney apparently was willing to try to bridge the gap.  That August, just prior to a meeting in Pennsylvania, Romney sent Goldwater (via his vice presidential running mate Congressman William Miller (R-NY)) a brief statement on civil rights and asked Goldwater to endorse it as a way to de-fuse the issue.  According to journalists Roland Evans and Robert Novak, the statement read in part as follows: "The rights of some must not be enjoyed by denying the rights of others.  Neither can we  permit states rights at the expense of human rights."

Goldwater refused, and after that George Romney drew the line.  He refused to endorse Goldwater or to appear with him publicly.  Later, he wrote Goldwater a twelve page private letter explaining his reasons, focusing on civil rights  In the end, Romney won re-election that year as Michigan governor by 380,000 votes as Goldwater was losing the state by over a million.

All of which brings us back to Mitt Romney and 2012.  Talking a few years ago to Tim Russert about his father (who died in 1995), Mitt described the 1964 confrontation in these terms: “my dad walked out of the Republican convention in 1964 in San Francisco in part because Barry Goldwater in his speech gave my dad the impression that he was someone who would be weak on civil rights.”

As Mitt Romney today prepares to fight the conservative wing of his modern Republican Party in a contest not much different from the Goldwater insurgency of 1964, will Mitt have the same backbone as his father to stand up for his "moderate" beliefs, even at the cost of catcalls and boos from the right wing chorus?   Stay tuned.....

In Part II, we'll talk about that "brainwashing" episode.   I think you'll be surprised at the truth.....