Where Have You Gone, Barry Goldwater?

Regrettably, I’m old enough to remember watching the 1964 Republican Convention. It was held in San Francisco at an indoor arena oddly named the Cow Palace, and it provided the first obvious example of the Republican Party’s capacity for irrationality and self-destructive zeal. Both qualities were on full display back then, and they have returned today.

The Republican Party in 1964 was caught in a struggle between its more traditional East Coast liberal wing, and a rapidly rising and more rabid West Coast faction. The favored candidate from the east was New York…