Culture

Victor Gold, R.I.P.

Word comes via Reagan biographer and conservative PR impresario Craig Shirley that Victor Gold, one of the great publicists of the conservative movement, passed away June 5 at age 88. Let not his passing go unremarked, or his contributions unremembered.

Gold, a Korean War veteran, did yeoman’s work as a top press aide on Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign in 1964; provided some of the most delicious and conservative words for Vice President Spiro Agnew to utter; worked for the presidential nomination campaigns of Ronald Reagan in 1968 and 1976; handled a large load of other conservative/Republican accounts; helped the elder George Bush write his autobiography; and wrote or co-authored several other books — including, quite entertainingly, a satirical political thriller co-authored with Lynne Cheney about a vice president who dies in (sexual) flagrante delicto. (That summary barely scratches the surface of his long résumé.)

Even before those national political adventures, Gold played a bit role in helping the nearly morbid Republican parties of both Louisiana and Alabama to start their slow ascents to dominance. In fact, he was a high-school classmate of David C. Treen, later the first Republican congressman and then the first GOP governor of Louisiana in a full century, and Gold was one of those who encouraged Treen to till the then-fallow Republican fields.

As good a writer, as creative a consultant, and as solid a thinker as Gold was, he was even a more memorable personality. Gold famously was irascible — to put it mildly — and liable to let off steam like a semi-active volcano, especially when confronted with actions or statements he considered ideational affronts. But his anger wasn’t obnoxious; it was amusing, even endearing. The irascibility came from a generous heart of an otherwise extraordinarily convivial companion.

Few occasions could be more entertaining than a lunch or dinner with Victor, trading old political stories, listening to him opine not just angrily but wittily on the latest political outrage, and, mostly, marveling at a great mind and warm spirit in full view. Slight and wiry in build (at least in his 80s), he still seemed to boast more energy, at least in demeanor, than men a third of his age.

On the occasion of his 88th birthday last year, Gold wrote this at his personal blog page:

My birthday wish? That I could say what Joe Louis — the greatest heavyweight champion that ever was — said when asked that autumn evening at Dempsey’s how he’d sum up his career: “I did the best I could with what I had.” Not true, I’m ashamed to say, in my case. But God and Geritol (if it’s still around) willing, I have rounds left to make up for lost time.

Those who knew him knew that Gold barely lost any time at all in his life; indeed, time had trouble keeping up with him. When it finally did catch up with him Monday evening, I’m sure Victor gave time an earful.

Victor Gold is survived by his wife Dale, son Stephen, daughters Paige and Jamie, and a legion of friends and admirers. He’s probably already teaching the herald angels how to do a better job getting their message out.

 

Quin Hillyer — Hillyer was born and raised in New Orleans and graduated from the Isidore Newman School in 1982 before matriculating at Georgetown University, where he graduated with an A.B. in government ...

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