retrocampaigns

retrocampaigns:

"Choice:" a 28-minute hand-wringing sermon on morality, brought to you by Barry Goldwater (but not really)

In 1964, political strategist Clif White helped secure the GOP nomination for Barry Goldwater, but he was dropped when it came time to assemble Goldwater’s campaign team. So, in what Daniel McCarthy at The American Conservative described as a “consolation prize,” White was granted permission to make a campaign film around the issue of morality in America, to be aired on television.

And it is awesome. There’s lots of dancing (gasp!), driving fast, even littering. And of course sex sex sex. All contrasted with AmericanTM shots of the Statue of Liberty, the Constitution and recreations of Valley Forge. And if you guessed that “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” is playing in the background, well my friend you would not be wrong. Self-righteous and way, way over-the-top, it was designed to show that the re-election of LBJ (the “Choice”) would hasten our already perilous decline, in a handcart to hell kind of way.

Jesse Walker, in Reason, recalls a passage from Mostly on the Edge, a memoir by Goldwater’s speechwriter Karl Hess, that explains what happened when this masterpiece was screened for Goldwater and the team:

Before a word could be said, the senator turned to my son — then sixteen years old — and asked his opinion. Young Karl said the ad was silly, had nothing to do with the ideas of the campaign, and was dirty politics to boot. Goldwater agreed. That was it; the ad was pulled, and the campaign stuck to the high ground of principles and substantive issues.

Goldwater’s decision to shelve it went beyond the lurid imagery and heavy-handed moral absolutism. The many depictions of young rioters was perhaps even more troubling. McCarthy cites Bill Middendorf’s (another campaign official) memoir A Glorious Disaster:

"It can’t be used." Period. The next day, he elaborated. "It’s nothing but a racist film." Choice gave equal time to black and white miscreants, but blacks were in the more violent shots.

At any rate, it’s a half hour well worth your time. Also, at around the 11:30 mark, you see footage about the “Baker case” - this is what that’s about.

edit: the_60s_at_50 on Twitter found a great New York Times article from 1996 about the film: "The First Days of the Loaded Political Image"

Sources:

* Barry Goldwater vs. the Swinging ’60s: The ‘Choice’ Film / The American Conservative
* The Wild Campaign Film That Barry Goldwater Disowned / Reason
* Video via YouTube
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kaible:

catbountry:

zygoats:

zygoats:

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found itimage

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avengersassemble-inmypants

vanconcastiel:

ignotum-per-aeque-ignotum:

fandomstuck:

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revengetaboule

scullaygolightly:

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