It was a subdued and somewhat dispirited Barry Goldwater who carried his crusade to revitalize moral America into Fenway Park last Thursday night. Perhaps a day's campaigning begun in Duluth, continued in Madison, Wisconsin, and concluded in Boston had done him in, maybe the hopelessness of his cause in the Northeast had quelled any enthusiasm, but Goldwater, having long ago descended from the rarefied, steely heights of the Cow Palace, spoke with a weary, methodical voice, like a man tramping through a bog. His campaign was at slack tide, and Goldwater showed what George Gallup et. al. have been telling us all along.
The invocation of Lincoln by an introductory speaker brought cheers from the crowd but could not bring the Senator's vacant eyes off the shoetops of the person next to him. And before he was four minutes into his demand for "law and order in this nation," he betrayed his ennui, one might say world sadness; the teleprompter stopped, so did Goldwater, and for one long moment his eyes went up and back into his mind, slowly searching for the key phrase which would unleash a mindless string of sentences to sustain him until he could switch back to the safety of the moving words.
Perhaps Senator Saltonstall most succinctly caught the tone of the evening when he rendered a variation on the ageless rhetorical device by introducing Goldwater as "the man who is not...." For the man who was to give a choice not an echo is now reduced to fighting with vague cries, against crime and for morality, his shibboleth being, "in your hearts you know I'm right." On almost any issue of substance the erstwhile challenger is on the defensive, his own words echoing uncomfortably around his ears. "I am," he must tell even his partisan audience, "not a warmonger but a peacemonger." "Let me make this absolutely clear," he repeats again and again.
That Goldwater has constantly been forced to explicate his rather ambivalent texts is of course nothing extraordinary; but his wearied; pro-forma rebuttals suggests new sense of the frustration of it all.
The loss of momentum is seen too in Goldwater's choice of words. In 1960, Nixon telegraphed his own sense of defeat when he began to adopt Kennedy's language, when he too insisted that America must move forward. Now it is Goldwater solemnly (and unconsciously) explaining the need for prudence and responsibility in the Executive branch.
This is not to say that the Senator has abandoned those stylistic pecularities which have drawn so much criticism. He is still the master of the blinding contradiction; his administration, as Walter Lippman tells us bi-weekly, will try to reduce the size of the Federal government while somehow reducing crime throughout the nation and building up defenses to thwart communism abroad. He still expounds the paradoxical platitude--at once grandiose and simplistic; to stop crime the President, "in making appointments to the federal judiciary, must consider the need to redress constitutional interpretation in favor of the public (underlining his)." And he still reveres history while being blatantly a historical.
But the assured relaxed frankness which makes up much of the Goldwater image was muted. As one national reporter who has been travelling with the Senator put it, "For about the last week he has been in a cocoon, thinking his own thoughts even while speaking." This sounds suspiciously like introspection, a quality no one has yet accused Goldwater of possessing.
With a little over a month to go and the polls, the press, and a mostly political President Johnson conspiring against his efforts to reach the "people," those minions outside the ambitions of big business, big labor and big government, Goldwater may be losing his poise and confidence; the reporter suggested his will to win. This may have little bearing on the election's final outcome, but it could have a vital effect on what many people consider a more important (that is, uncertain) matter, his leadership of the Republican party after November 3.