Next to denouncing others on the right, the surest way for a conservative to win respect from liberals is to retire or die. Once in the grave, professionally or literally, a conservative leader becomes a standard by which to judge all who come after him as deplorable. Barry Goldwater was a maniac with a twitchy finger reaching for the nuclear trigger when he ran for president in 1964. Upon leaving the Senate in 1987, he became an elder statesman trying to exorcise Jerry Falwell from the gop. Ronald Reagan earned a partial...


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