Early in Ronald Reagan’s second term, Bill Rusher, the publisher of National Review, was interviewing the president in the Oval Office for a documentary on the conservative movement.
Rusher asked how he would describe Barry Goldwater’s role.
Reagan thought a moment and replied: I guess you would have to call him the John the Baptist of our movement.
I resisted the impulse to lean in and ask, “Sir, if Barry Goldwater was John the Baptist, who would that make you?”
The death of George McGovern brought back thoughts of these two men who suffered two of the greatest defeats in presidential history.
McGovern was an unapologetic liberal from South Dakota. Goldwater was Mr. Conservative and proud of it. Both had been World War II pilots. Goldwater had flown “over the hump,” the Himalayas, into China. George McGovern flew bombing runs over the Ploesti oil fields.