Warm Liberal Memories: Tom Shales on Goldwater, Couric on Ann Richards

Often, the warmth of media memories toward a politician hinge on where they stood, or where they ended up standing. In Monday's Washington Post, TV critic Tom Shales reviewed the HBO debut of the documentary "Goldwater on Goldwater," made by C.C. Goldwater, the granddaughter of the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, loaded with liberal experts who lauded his resistance to the religious right. Shales sermonized:

Goldwater, who died in 1998, was the man who defined conservatism for more than one generation and who essentially split with the conservative movement when it became allied with pseudo-religious extremists. To Goldwater, the essence of conservatism was that government should stay out of people's lives as much as possible, and he was "appalled," his granddaughter says, by the "social agenda" of the far-right-wingers who seek to control the Republican Party now.

He was a feminist without labeling himself one, declaring that "abortion is not a conservative issue" and that what a woman did with her body was her own business. When he learned that a grandson, Ty, was gay -- "I was never in the closet," Ty says -- he raised no alarm or objection: "He was just concerned that I be myself"....

Many responsive chords are struck by "Goldwater on Goldwater." It whets one's appetite to learn more about this unfairly maligned man, this giant figure from a time of giants, and it seems bound to have a significant salutary effect on his reputation.

On her new CBS blog "Couric & Co.," anchor Katie Couric paid tribute Friday to the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards, sharing part of a letter Richards sent her recently as she prepared to take the reins at CBS, and would fight evil critics:

You know that the knives will be out to get you and most of them will be in male hands although the women will do their own devilment. The most important thing for you is to have very good TRUSTWORTHY advisors and do not hesitate to use them. You need a good strong support system to help you hold the tiller in these turbulent seas. You are a wonderful talent and a strong woman and we know that you can succeed. Trust your gut, but check it out. Always choose substance over kitsch.

Hmm, that last piece of advice might already look a little ignored. Do not forget where Couric and Richards crossed in the MRC archives. In March of 1999, Couric interviewed Richards in New York at the 92nd Street Y, and asked her a softball question about the evil climate created by the religious right:

"Let’s talk a little bit more about the right wing because I know that’s something you feel very strongly about. But this is actually not necessarily about the right wing, but perhaps a climate that some say has been established by religious zealots or Christian conservatives. There have been two recent incidents in the news I think that upset most people in this country, that is the dragging death of James Byrd Junior and the beating death of Matthew Shepard. I just would like you to reflect on whether you feel people in this country are increasingly intolerant, mean- spirited, etcetera, and what, if anything, can be done about that because a lot of people get very discouraged when they hear and see this kind of brutality taking place."

The Washington Post also carried an Appreciation with warm words on Friday from Joe Holley, who sadly recounted how this "liberal Democrat" just couldn't defeat George W. Bush in 1994. At the end of the piece, the Post explained that their staff writer was a "deputy press secretary for Ann Richards during her one term as governor."

CBS CBS Evening News Washington Post
Tim Graham's picture