Archives - Politics: Page 24
Author: paul carson (Sat Sep 30, 2006 2:10 am)
Questions for CC Goldwater
Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON
Q: Your grandfather, Barry Goldwater, was both adored and vilified during his lifetime as the rightest of the right-wing senators. Yet your new documentary, “Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater,” which will be shown on HBO starting Sept. 18, rehabilitates him as a kind of liberal compared with today’s conservatives.
That was part of the reason I thought a film could be done about him.
He emerges as a complex figure a half-Jewish cowboy from Phoenix who believed the government should stay out of our hair. He thought gays should be allowed in the military and was also pro-choice.
My mom had an abortion in the mid-50’s, before she had me. She was in college, and she wanted to finish and get a degree and not have a child then. Barry felt it was a woman’s right to make that choice.
On the other hand, what does it say about the current state of American politics if Barry Goldwater is held up as a model of social enlightenment? Many people considered him a bigot because he voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
That was a wart on his career, and he knew it. He was the furthest thing from a bigot there was.
In the film, you manage to assemble a chorus of mostly admiring Democrats Al Franken, Ted Kennedy, James Carville and Hillary Clinton, who actually campaigned for your grandfather in 1964, when he ran against Lyndon Johnson for president.
Hillary was a Goldwater girl. Isn’t that hysterical? She passed out cookies and lemonade at his campaign functions.
Ben Bradlee calls your grandfather “an unsung hero of Watergate.”
Barry didn’t go to Nixon’s funeral. He ended up feeling that Nixon really cheated the country and lied to the country, and that was something you just didn’t do in Barry’s book. You don’t lie.
It’s odd to see so many East Coast people praising your grandfather when he famously said that the U.S. might be better off “if we could just saw off the Eastern Seaboard and let it float out to sea.”
What you saw is what you got from him.
Are you a Republican?
No, I’m an independent. My mom is an independent, because she has always been supportive of initiatives in women’s rights, and so am I. The Republican Party has shifted so far away from the center that I don’t know if I can get over there.
Did you try to interview President Bush for the film?
Where was Bill Clinton?
He said, “You’re interviewing my wife, you don’t need to interview me.”
I was surprised you left out William Buckley, who probably did as much as Goldwater to shape conservative ideals in this country.
My co-producer, Tani Cohen, and I just had so many people who were of the same genre. We were trying to get different voices.
It would have been interesting to compare the Buckley and Goldwater styles of conservatism.
It’s the white bucks vs. the cowboy boots. Argyle socks vs. no socks and Birkenstocks.
Buckley, no doubt, is read more, as the founder of National Review. You don’t hear too much anymore about your grandfather’s “Conscience of a Conservative,” which was a huge best seller in 1960.
It is going to be reissued by Princeton University Press. The book is the first in Princeton’s series of classic works of American politics.
Did you always want to be a filmmaker?
I never set out to be a filmmaker. I wanted to tell a story. It’s a big thing to do when you don’t have the background to do it, but I was blessed to have HBO on board from an early stage. They were our partners on this, 50-50.
How large was your budget?
A little over $750,000, closer to $800,000. I tried to raise my half, and then I realized I would have to give up too much creative control, so I just put it up myself.
How do you have that much money?
I don’t. Barry was not materialistic. We were not the Rockefellers, so I refinanced my house to come up with the money.
Do you plan to do another documentary?
There’s nothing that comes to mind. I don’t have enough interesting family members to allow me to do a boxed set.
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