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Throughout his botched presidential campaign, Goldwater was always ready to dabble in any irresponsible demagoguery that promised votes.
Here is what makes his appearance with Quayle so fascinating on this day. They are a pair of Arizona lightning rods. In his day, Goldwater was considered to be just as much of an intellectual lightweight as Dan Quayle is today.
I was sitting midway back on the main floor. Make no mistake about it, this was a crowd that admired both of them.
As Quayle stumbled through his shopworn speech, I was fascinated by the tableau created by this Arizona political triumvirate.
Quayle and ASU President Coor hold their jobs by accidents of birth.
In his golden years, the Goldwater story is being heavily rewritten. Before our eyes, he is being transformed into a legend.
If there is ever a hall of fame for Arizona political figures, Goldwater will be the first inducted.
The Goldwaterites would have us believe he was a roughhewn, John Wayne type who strode his own path. They would have us believe he was also one of the great military pilots of the century.
In actuality, Goldwater was the wealthy grandson of a Jewish department store owner. He became the hero of racist forces in our society and went on to pass himself off as an Episcopalian.
He was an Air Force reserve general who became a close ally of powerful defense contractors. There was never any grand war record to boast about. The only thing that was ferocious about Goldwater was his politics.
Goldwater used to take delight in telling bigoted audiences that only low education and low intelligence were the real causes of poverty. He never explained how he would have made it after a single year of college if a top place in Goldwater's department store had not awaited him.
His greatest claim to fame was his development of a product he called antsy pants," a line of men's undershorts decorated with ants that Goldwater advertised in the New Yorker magazine.
What is there to be said about Quayle after the heavy-duty smooching delivered to his cheek by Bob Woodward and David Broder in that remarkable Washington Post series? It is a sustained piece of writing so vapid as to defy the imagination.
The fact that Quayle is vice president says even more about George Bush's erratic thinking.
About ten minutes into Quayle's speech, at 9:37 a.m. by my watch, Goldwater voted with his feet. Without looking up, he arose from his chair and walked across the stage, leaning heavily on his cane. Goldwater disappeared from view. He was not to be seen again.
A few minutes later, Quayle realized that Goldwater had defected.
Lattie Coor, the school president, knew it, too. He sat staring at Quayle with his mouth open in horror.
Oh well," said Quayle, that's Barry."
And that's Dan. That's Lattie, too. Some trio.
A question-and-answer period followed.
Students and faculty members lined up in the two outer aisles and spoke their questions into microphones set up and guarded by Secret Service men.
You might be interested to know what kind of questions they asked. No one asked about the poor. No one inquired about race relations. None of these young Republicans seemed concerned about the millions who are unemployed and without hospitalization insurance.
One man was incensed that government funds were being wasted in the spending of tax dollars on homoerotic art.
Another complained that the Bush administration was not protecting people's Second Amendment rights to possess AK-47 automatic weapons.
Quayle cautioned against going overboard on this point.
My dad was a member of the NRA," Quayle said proudly, and they taught me how to handle a weapon." Lest anyone doubt where he stood on the issue, Quayle added: I believe a person commits the crime, not the gun." Another man asked if it was true that the space program was falling behind schedule.
A man actually stood up and wanted Quayle to reveal the name of his favorite golf course.
A woman who claimed to be a member of the faculty complained about the lack of funds for education and the low salaries for teachers.
(She was apparently unaware that President Coor only this month hired a new football coach for approximately $500,000 a year. This certainly indicates that for faculty members with the right talents, the sky is the limit.)
I am absolutely convinced," Quayle said, raising his voice, that our education system is the finest in the world." This was greeted by thunderous applause.
Sensing this was the proper time to end the session, Quayle raised one arm skyward and shouted:
Go, Sun Devils!" With that, he walked swiftly off the stage. The visit of the vice president to the students of Arizona State was finished.
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