Synopsis by Mark Deming
Barry Goldwater was among the most controversial figures in American politics in the 1960s. A hard-line fiscal conservative and an outspoken supporter of the war in Vietnam, Goldwater was elected to the U.S. Congress as a senator from Arizona in 1952, and he helped galvanize the Republican party, leading the way for a bolder brand of conservative politics that many have cited as the first steps to the election of Ronald Reagan as president and the new wave of conservative thought that followed, despite Goldwater's own infamous defeat when he ran for president opposite Lyndon Johnson. However, while Goldwater was regarded as a spokesman of the far right, his political views were far broader than his reputation would suggest -- he frequently supported civil rights and environmental legislation in Congress, he was an outspoken opponent of the influence of Christian activists in politics, and his positions took an a more libertarian stance as the Republican party moved farther to the right in the 1980s. (He also once called Richard M. Nixon "the most dishonest individual I have ever met.") Goldwater also earned a reputation for his sharp sense of humor and his unflinching honesty. Barry Goldwater's granddaughter C.C. Goldwater produced the documentary Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater, in which home movies, archival interviews, newsreel footage, and conversations with Goldwater's friends, relatives, and colleagues come together to create a portrait of the public and private sides of this complicated man. Among those interviewed in the film are Walter Cronkite, Hillary Clinton, Helen Thomas, George Will, Sandra Day O'Connor, Ben Bradlee, Julian Bond, and Al Franken.
career-retrospective, conservatism, pioneer, politics, presidential-candidate, radical, Republican-Party, Senator