Monday, January 12, 2009

Movie Review: "Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater"

I picked up Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater on my way out of the public library and figured that I could stand to learn something about Barry Goldwater or -- to put my expectations more accurately -- what people think about Goldwater. Since the latter is the larger portion of my belief about narratives in general, I find the subtitle useless. And, still, I'd like to think that the subtitle is not entirely off the mark -- or, to put it another way, although Goldwater was not resurrected in this movie to speak to our times about his conservatism and his life, I found the movie to be quite fascinating. The most fascinating part was the way the movie was done, who commented on Goldwater, and what they said. Ranging from Al Franken and Hillary Clinton, his son (Barry Goldwater Jr.) and granddaughter, and plenty of snippets of Goldwater himself, this was a story told in a very complex way that had an agenda: "conservatism" has lost its way.

Many would agree with this and might also find it odd to hear such a view coming from the likes of Clinton (a former Goldwater Girl in her youth) and Franken, but the what is important, I think, is not that "conservatism" as outlined by Goldwater is lost and needs to be restored, but, rather, that politics has lost its way and has been reduced to fundraising. Goldwater is presented as a deeply complex man -- with his fair share of demons and angst in his own life and those his life affected (most poignantly in the lives of his neglected children) -- who represented more than a brand (that I find very unpersuasive) of political ideology.

The Goldwater of this film represents one of the last "human" politicians. By "human" I mean Goldwater, in this film, is treated as a political subject, not a mere object of that machine we call politics.

Like him or not (Goldwater, that is), this film seems to be a timely thing to watch. And, as far as I can tell, it seems to be a pretty decent piece of documentary journalism too. You may want to check it out at your local library. Something tells me that it is not leaping from the shelves.

1 comment:

Phil Smith said...

Goldwater was,"One of the last 'human' politicians". Yes, I think that's right. Had I recognized that in 1964 I probably would have voted for him. I certanily wouldn't have voted for LBJ. Goldwater was a more fitting heir to the Kennedy legacy, than Johnson was, even on his best day. Being human isn't exactly an asset in politics today. Too bad. It's more often the source of our virtue than our failings.