Reprinted with permission…
24 January 2008
Hillary Clinton: Goldwater Girl and The Civil Rights Act of 1964
Hillary Clinton ignited a firestorm of controversy with her casual dismissal of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's paramount role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As so many others have noted, Mrs. Clinton was wrong on the facts and the message. Yet, the many commentators have failed to point out the far more serious issue raised by Mrs. Clinton's comment.
Where was Mrs. Clinton in 1964 and what was she doing? Undoubtedly, she would have us believe that the she was an innocent high school student and already a stalwart supporter of civil rights. But was she? The evidence suggests otherwise.
In 1964 Hillary Rodham Clinton was a Goldwater girl. For those who have forgotten their history, Senator Barry Goldwater, the Republican Party's candidate for President in 1964, spearheaded the conservative takeover of the Republican Party. As a leading advocate of states rights (the rallying cry of Southern demagogues) Senator Goldwater forcefully opposed passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Upon Senator Goldwater's death in May 1998, then First Lady Clinton wrote a glowing tribute in memory of the conservative Senator. As Mrs. Clinton noted,
My best friend, Betsy, and I were Goldwater Girls. We wore cowboy hats and red, white and blue sashes anchored by gold buttons reading AUH2O. Our job was to pass out brochures at an outdoor rally in suburban Chicago. Our clearest memory of the event is that we got to shake hands with the candidate himself. Even though it was the end of a long, tiring day, the senator patiently greeted and thanked all of the workers there, including the teenagers like myself. This is the Barry Goldwater I think of so often.
Mrs. Clinton also wrote, "But what won me over [to Goldwater] was the senator's book, The Conscience of a Conservative."
What are we to make of this today?
The Conscience of a Conservative was the manifesto of the conservative movement in America and played a major role in the influx of Dixiecrats and conservative southern Democrats to the Republican Party. Senator Goldwater vehemently opposed as unconstitutional, Titles II and VII, public accommodations and fair employment, respectively, of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Title II, the so-called Mrs. Murphy clause, he found particularly repellent because it in effect stated that a landlord could not refuse rental to anybody.
As for Title VII, he feared that it would create a "police state" that would dictate hiring and firing policy for Americans.
Senator Goldwater was advised by then Professor Robert H. Bork of the Yale Law School who alleged that the majority of the nation's moral and intellectual leaders were practicing a kind of McCarthyism with regard to civil rights. As we all know, Professor Bork was later soundly and roundly rejected for a seat on the United States Supreme Court.
And Hillary Rodham Clinton was a Goldwater Girl who went on to Wellesley College and headed the campus chapter of the Young Republicans.
The Clinton spin machine would have us all believe that Mrs. Clinton was born to the cause of Civil Rights. Clearly she was not. Indeed, the evidence is clear that Mrs. Clinton was a fervent lifelong supporter of the Republican Senator who led the opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Perhaps this is why she was able to cling to her friendship with Senator Goldwater to the end.
So what does Mrs. Clinton believe and when does she believe what she says she believes?
As for those who believe what she says she believes a word of caution is in order. Mrs. Clinton's longtime friend, as The Arizona Republic termed Senator Goldwater, was not finished in 1964. In an autobiography published in 1988, Senator Goldwater had this to say about African American politicians:
In my thirty years in Congress, the most self-serving group was the black caucus, which thrived on charges of racism. It was unworthy of them in an institution where leadership and foresight were hallmarks of innovative new solutions. Instead, they saw most black problems as civil rights issues, not questions to be solved in and of themselves. Black leadership in Congress still lives twenty to thirty years in the past. Men like Michigan's John Conyers, Jr., and Dellums peddle the past. Neither has had a new idea since he became a welfare pusher.
And the Goldwater Girl continued the friendship.