The Corner

Lou Cannon on Goldwater

A false idea wrapped in a cliche: “Goldwater is worth rediscovering. He was a conservative of the old school who believed, in the mantra of his day, that government should stay out of the boardroom and the bedroom. Almost casually supportive of abortion rights (and later gay rights) and proud that his wife was active in Planned Parenthood, Goldwater worried about the concentration of federal power. . .” Abortions do not generally take place in bedrooms, but government does belong there if acts of coercive violence are taking place there. Goldwater supported legal abortion at the end of his career, but did not do so throughout it. He made it through his last Senate race, in 1980, thanks to the support of right-to-life activists.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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