He was Moses there on the podium. He could see the Promised Land from where he stood. But he would never reap its rewards. Those would go to another Westerner, Ronald Reagan.
As Barry Goldwater was introduced Tuesday night, the exuberant cheers erupted, drowning out his attempts to speak. He was on crutches, in pain after a three-week siege in the hospital with a bad hip. He stood on one leg, gripped the dias for support. His glasses kept slipping down his nose. The mikes were not turned up loud enough and it was difficult to hear.
It didn't matter. There was a reverence in the air for this old warhorse of the Republican Party, the man who had given them a new identity, who had articulated their staunchest views.
They could not get enough of him and the hall shook with their cries of "We want Barry!" until he had to quiet them himself, close to tears in the emotion of the moment.
His speech gave them what they wanted -- tough, scratchy, honest. He knew them, their children, their grandchildren. Rock-ribbed, they were once called. Extremists. Die-hard. Ultra-right. This night they could almost have been . . . mainstream.
Early yesterday morning, he chuckled about hs performance, and its effect on his constituents in Arizona, where he is running for reelection.
"The more conservative I get and the meaner I get, the more they like it. They think I'm a socialist out there."
Yet in a way, Tuesday night was a vindication for Barry Goldwater and a sign of change for the Republican Party.
For the first time the Republican convention did not belong to the Eastern Establishment, Wall Street, old-school-tie crowd. It now belonged to the West, the Midwest, the South.
Barry Goldwater had been the prophet of the western movement for the Republicans -- the conservatives. He had led them through the wilderness, he had vanquished the Nelson Rockefellers, the William Scrantons, and now the man he had brought into politics in 1964 was going to be their new leader.
But Ronald Reagan had forgotten. He was not returning Barry Goldwater's calls. And so it was, for Barry Goldwater, as for many at the Republican convention, both a time to mourn and a time to rejoice.
"I can remember," says Goldwater, "when the Republican convention was always controlled by the Eastern Seaboard. No matter what kind of candidate there was from the West we knew we were going to get dingled. When I came, it changed somewhat. There was an outpouring of Midwesterners and to add to that we began to take states like Kansas, Wyoming, we had Ohio, the the whole West. As you can see, the convention now attracts the middle-class person."
John P. Campbell is not exactly what one could call middle class. Campbell is in the New York delegation and is disturbed, you might say, at the way things are going, class-wise. Campbell is from Cold Spring Harbor, that social WASP yachting enclave of the East Coast. He sits confidently in his delegation, his Cold Spring Harbor yachting cap with its Reagan-Bush button, his blue and white striped button-down shirt, navy blazer and Links Club tie quiet testimony to his bloodlines.
"I am a liberal Republican," he says. He is a product of Middlesex, Harvard, Columbia Law school. "And the Army Air Corps." He explains that the delegation has had a "row" over the platform and that some of the planks were "unfortunate." He then explains their problem, seemingly oblivious as the tooting horns, the elephant hats, snozzles, cowboy hats and boots pass by and the whistles blow.
The problem of the "rich, the well-born and the able." he says, "is that in the Northeast the Ivy League simply refuses to participate actively in local politics. We don't get the lower-level candidate." Campbell then points to some of the dinosaurs like himself in the New York delegation, citing their schools: "Yale, Hamilton, Cornell, Harvard, Hobart." He then moves on to other Ivy Leaguers in other delegations, spouting them off by heart.
He says he misses Rockefeller. "He was a splendid fellow." And he feels that "the West and the middle class" have taken over the Republican Party. And, of course, he likes George Bush. "One always likes one's contemporaries.He represents the same philosophy as the Northeast." He knows him personally, too. "Oh yes. And I know two brothers over in the Connecticut delegation."
Campbell pauses and stops talking for a moment, suddenly stunned that someone is actually taking notes on what he is saying. "Gosh," he says. "I haven't had such an opporutnity to be heard since, well, since I was in boarding school."
This will be David Brinkley's 15th convention. He is relaxed; he has watched them come and go from his perch high above the convention hall and he thinks this one is different.
"The Republican convention has normally been dominated by Wall Street, Dewey, Rockefeller, that crowd," he says, relaxing in his office before he goes to his booth. "Those people do belong to country clubs, wear Brooks Brothers madras Bermuda shorts on the golf course. But they no longer run the party. It's moved to the Midwest, the West and the South, where people do not do all of that. The Republican Party has been westernized. Look at the attempt to abolish the 55 m.p.h. speed limit in the platform. That's the West. In the West they care about highways. In the East we have winding little roads.
"Three conventions ago they were all Yalies. Now the Republicans begin picking up people around Chambersberg, Pennsylvania. Around the part of the country where salad is thought of as a first course."
Goldwater has just finished the "Today" show with Tom Brokaw and he has walked to the elevator slowly, on crutches, followed by an adoring crowd of people, touching him, grabbing him, complimenting and congratulating him. "I wish you would run for the president. I'd vote for you tomorrow," one tells him and there is a murmur of assent and more applause from the lobby full of onlookers.
He smiles and thanks them, clearly used to this worshipful behavior. As he waits for the elevator, a crowd rushes by, and he is almost knocked aside until former Treasury secretary William Simon and Gen. Alexander Haig recognize him and come over to pump his hand.
In the elevator going up, he smiles. "Now Haig is a man I would have enjoyed having run for the presidency. If it hadn't been for Al Haig, during the last Nixon days, we probably wouldn't have a country."
But the nominee is not Haig, but Ronald Reagan, a man who was an old friend of Goldwater's, as was his wife, Nancy. There are tensions there now,now, a strain, a coolness coming from the Reagans. "I called when I got in," says Goldwater. "His communications expert took the message. I haven't heard back."
"Me, talk to Reagan? I think it would take a visitation from the pope with me carrying his shirt first." And he laughs.
He muses for a moment. "I've known Ronald Reagan for so long and I've known Nancy's parents, too."
He traces the problem to the last election when he supported Gerald Ford -- the incumbent, a Midwesterner, and once one of Goldwater's loyal legions -- instead of his friend Reagan. "Nancy said it was like a knife in her heart," he says. "And it took a year and a half for her to forgive me."
He told Reagan two years ago he would support him this time, do what he could to help. Reagan has yet to call on him.
"It's been a long, long time since 1964," says Goldwater. "But I'm something to those people out there.
"Reagan has been after this job for 15 long years. I got him into politics. I think if I worked real hard for 15 years I could get elected to darn near anything. And don't forget -- he's been in the acting profession. There's a thin line between being an actor and a politician. You can put the message across."
Sen. and Mrs. John Heinz and Sen. and Mrs. Howard Baker had a party Monday night for the Republican Senatorial Trust, John Heinz from Pennsylvania is known as more liberal than the average Republican. So, as everyone knows by now, is Howard Baker.
The party, at the exclusive Detroit Athletic Club, is a bastion for the "rich, the well-born and the able." From the looks of the crowd it could have been a Porcellian Club Party after the Harvard-Yale game. Or even more apt, after the game in which the Ivy League had just been beaten by the University of Montana. The level of shock, and sheer consternation, was high.
"This is the ERA rally," John Heinz said with a laugh. Heinz's wife Theresa, an active feminist, was regaling her guests with pro-ERA stories from around the country.
Sen. Chuck Percy of Illinois was in a state of total outrage over a plank in the platform calling for judges to be pro-life before they were appointed. And he was rallying anyone who would listen to his cause. "I think this is a travesty against the whole system," he kept saying as Sen. and Mrs. Jacob Javits, Sen. Mac Mathias and Henry Kissinger circled around nodding. Percy was trying to get Javits to fight against it. Bill Hildenbrand, the secretary of the minority in the Senate, just stood by shaking his head sadly and occasionally saying to nobody in particular, "No way, there aren't enough people in this convention to do what he wants to do."
Henry Kissinger circulated comfortably through the room as Marion Javits complained, "What are the Republicans doing? They're kicking themselves in the head. Well, they'll have to turn to Henry sooner or later. If Jack [Javits] weren't so political they'd turn to him."
Most of the senators themselves were somewhat circumspect, especially those running for reelection. But one man, Arthur Salomon of Salomon Brothers and a former partner of Bill Simons, wasn't running for anything and he didn't care what he said.
"I was co-chairman of the unit dinners," said this old-style Wall Street Republican, "and Reagan never showed up at either one. At least Bush came over Sunday night. Do you know that I am one of the biggest Republican donors in the country and I can't get through to Reagan? I can get through to Jimmy Carter but not to Reagan."
Robert Jubelirer, a Pennsylvania delegate and state senator, was even more blunt. "We can swallow hard on some things but Bush can do a lot for us. My Democratic friends and liberal Republicans are choking on this platform. Only Bush can keep them from going to John Anderson. We don't need a clone of 'R.R.' -- Ronald Reagan is going to have to decide whether he is going to be president or whether Nancy Reagan is going to be president. If they screw us on this one . . ."
Host Howard Baker was more subdued, but he had his problems.
"I want to wait until the convention and the election are over before I make some proposals about what should be done. But this is not a good system."
Henry Kissinger, darling of the Eastern Establishment, picked and chose carefully the places he went during the convention. Essentially, this was not his crowd. The Baker-Heinz party was one place he did feel at home. The New York Times party was another. He was accompanied by his son David and later was joined by his wife, Nancy, for his speech at the convention hall. Kissinger was nervous.
He had been to see Reagan Tuesday and, as Haig was to say of Kissinger from the floor Tuesday night, "I heardreports that he was looking rather gloomy this afternoon. Who knows, maybe his wife had just kissed him." Then he joked, "But his briefcase had smoke coming out of it."
Haig likes Kissinger but admits that there is a section of the party that does not admire him. "We've had a decade of setback," he said. "It's natural for people to be looking for scapegoats." o
But the Republicans were respectful to Kissinger during his speech, despite reports they were going to boo him on the podium.
As Carter Wren from Jesse Helms' North Carolina delegation put it, "just simple politeness precluded that."
That is the theme of the whole convention. The Republicans this year are magnanimous in their victory. Even to a Henry Kissinger.
It didn't hurt to have Nancy Kissinger chatting animately with Nancy Reagan in the bleachers before her husband spoke. But that didn't fool anybody. As Kissinger would remark at The New York Times party, "The Republican party has moved to the West. I agree with [New York representative Jack] Kemp. The right is more a concentration of conservative radicalism than moderate conservatism."
There was something a little sad about the George Bush party on Sunday night, given for Bush by the press who covered him during the campaign. Bush and his wife, Barbara, seemed relaxed, the press was jocular. But the Bush "roast" was a kind of Hasty Pudding, Princeton Triangle humor one would never find among the Reagan crowd. Jokes about Bush's preppie background abounded. "I've always wanted to yell Skull and Bones [a Yale Secret Society] to see if Bush would leave the room," said one reporter.
Frequently, the Bushes were caught between laughing at anti-Reagan humor from the press and being guarded.The vice-presidency might be in the wings. At one point, during the skits, when it was said that Reagan was "given to seeing backward with clarity" and given to "multitudes and platitudes," Barbara Bush burst out laughing and she and her husband looked at each other knowingly.
One had the feeling that George Bush was like a ruling class member in some small country, a patrician who must turn over the reins to the new majority and take second place.
Former senator James Buckley, brother to columnist Bill Buckley, now in the Connecticut delegation, is cruising up and down the aisles looking fit and suntanned, and well-born. And slightly out of place.
On the changing Republican Party, he says: "It has become more entrenched in the middle class, if you will. The wealthy people of the established East have drifted away from the roots of the Republican Party.
"That perception ought to come out of this convention." And George Bush, the quintessential preppie? Where does he fit in? "George Bush is from Houston. He's part of the West now. That's where the action is."
Goldwater, the prophet of the West, sits in his room in the Plaza Hotel. He is still in pain from his hip operation and he is waiting out a thunderstorm before he flies back to the Washington hospital where he will have a dressing on his hip changed. His secretary, Judy Eisenhower, is trying for the third hour to order the senator some breakfast. She is also trying to get his and Reagan's pollster, Dick Wirthlin, whom Goldwater introduced to Reagan, on the phone. Wirthlin cannot be reached.
All the activity seems not to bother Goldwater. He is beyond all the political infighting, grasping and clawing that is going on in Detroit.
"I like George Bush," he says, "but my state is divided on George Bush. So my attitude is, let the president take whom he wants. It's not any business of the convention. And anyway, the vice president doesn't have a damn thing to do."
He is thoughtful about the people he still knows, the old faithful, the ones who now belong to Ronald Reagan, but who were once his.
"You've got to remember," he says. "They've gotten older and their children form a large bloc of independents which, by the way, I am not opposed to. They might vote wrong for an election or two, then sit down and think that maybe that wasn't the right thing to do."
Goldwater shifts in his chair and folds his hands. "Last night I wasn't impressed by the overwhelming number of 24-year-olds. I know all of those people. I know their children and their grandchildren. They're still the same old wrinkled, pot-bellied, gray-haired people that have always been there. Christ, I even remember the appeal of Herbert Hoover. I broke a modern record last night. I spoke at my seventh convention. What's my appeal? What was the appeal of Bob Taft? I seem to be able to say, 'By God this is what I think of the Republican Party.' I'm an emotional type. And I have to tell you that last night just shook hell out of me."