There's a really old Lyndon Johnson campaign ad that's burning up the internet because the guy in the 1964 "Confessions of a Republican" ad sounds like he could be talking about Donald Trump in 2016. The parallels really are quite eerie, but before I play you the whole ad, there's one section that grabbed me, and also shows the biggest difference between 1964 and today. This is actor Bill Bogert talking about then-nominee Barry Goldwater:
Who are they? I mean, when the head of the Ku Klux Klan, when all these weird groups come out in favor of the candidate of my party — either they're not Republicans or I'm not.
For all the similarities between Bogert's "confession" and today's Republican agita at Trump's rise, there's a major difference. A Republican in 1964 could fairly claim that Goldwater's brand of conservatism had snuck up on him, but in 2016, Trump isn't sneaking up on anyone. He's been carefully grown and tended like the Death's Head moth in Silence of the Lambs. Any Republican with the nerve to be surprised by Trump today deserves every pang of discomfort.
I would also note that even back then, white supremacy ranked pretty low on the list of concerns. It took Bogert until nearly the end of the ad to get around to the Klan.
Here's the full "Confessions of a Republican" ad, which also manages to eerily predict the WASPY affect of George Will, and features the delightfully retro touch of a dude lighting a cigarette right in the middle of it:
REPUBLICAN: I don't know just why they wanted to call this a confession; I certainly don't feel guilty about being a Republican. I've always been a Republican. My father is, his father was, the whole family is a Republican family. I voted for Dwight Eisenhower the first time I ever voted; I voted for Nixon the last time. But when we come to Senator Goldwater, now it seems to me we're up against a very different kind of a man. This man scares me.
Now maybe I'm wrong. A friend of mine just said to me, "Listen, just because a man sounds a little irresponsible during a campaign doesn't mean he's going to act irresponsibly." You know that theory, that the White House makes the man. I don't buy that. You know what I think makes a President - I mean, aside from his judgement, his experience - are the men behind him, his advisors, the cabinet. And so many men with strange ideas are working for Goldwater. You hear a lot about what these guys are against - they seem to be against just about everything - but what are they for?
The hardest thing for me about this whole campaign is to sort out one Goldwater statement from another. A reporter will go to Senator Goldwater and he'll say, "Senator, on such and such a day, you said, and I quote, 'blah blah blah' whatever it is, end quote." And then Goldwater says, "Well, I wouldn't put it that way." I can't follow that. Was he serious when he did put it that way? Is he serious when he says I wouldn't put it that way? I just don't get it. A President ought to mean what he says.
President Johnson, Johnson at least is talking about facts. He says, "Look, we've got the tax cut bill and because of that you get to carry home X number of dollars more every payday. We've got the nuclear test ban and because of that there is X percent less radioactivity in the food." But, but Goldwater, often, I can't figure out just what Goldwater means by the things he says. I read now where he says, "A craven fear of death is sweeping across America. What is that supposed to mean? If he means that people don't want to fight a nuclear war, he's right. I don't. When I read some of these things that Goldwater says about total victory, I get a little worried, you know? I wish I was as sure that Goldwater is as against war as I am that he's against some of these other things. I wish I could believe that he has the imagination to be able to just shut his eyes and picture what this country would look like after a nuclear war.
Sometimes, I wish I'd been at that convention at San Francisco. I mean, I wish I'd been a delegate, I really do. I would have fought, you know. I wouldn't have worried so much about party unity because if you unite behind a man you don't believe in, it's a lie. I tell you, those people who got control of that convention: Who are they? I mean, when the head of the Ku Klux Klan, when all these weird groups come out in favor of the candidate of my party — either they're not Republicans or I'm not.
I've thought about just not voting at this election, just staying home — but you can't do that, that's saying you don't care who wins, and I do care. I think my party made a bad mistake in San Francisco, and I'm going to have to vote against that mistake on the third of November.
MALE NARRATOR: Vote for President Johnson on November 3rd. The stakes are too high for you to stay home.