Stuart Reid (commentary, June 30) and then Luana Chapman (letter, July 6) regard Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater’s stand regarding Richard Nixon during Watergate as a model of integrity concerning presidential crimes and misdemeanors during the age of Trump.
Their understanding of Goldwater’s position is taken from his memoirs, which do not stand up to scrutiny.
As my biography of Goldwater (“Barry Goldwater,” Yale, 1995) reveals, he was a practical politician who publicly supported Richard Nixon through the indictment of his co-conspirators and opposed the release of the salacious White House tapes. Only privately did he doubt Nixon and his chances of survival.
Not until August 5, 1974, with the release of the “smoking gun” tape, did Goldwater break with the president. Like many today, Barry Goldwater was, at best, in denial and, at worst, a cynical partisan.
History seems to echo. In regard to political integrity, those who seek role models should search more carefully for a hero.
Robert A. Goldberg, Salt Lake City, Professor of History, University of Utah