Last month marked the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's famous "A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand" speech made during his acceptance of the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate from the state of Illinois. (Blessedly, he lost the election.) Toward the end of his oratory, Lincoln summed up the complexion of the Republican party, as constituted in 1858, as being made up of "strange, discordant, and even hostile elements."
Lincoln's evergreen assessment of the GOP was cited in another speech, made just over a century later by Barry Goldwater, who was accepting his party's nomination for president before the Republican national convention. During his address, a minute or so after quoting Lincoln, Goldwater delivered one of the scariest statements ever uttered by a nominated candidate for the presidency. Today, July 16, is the 44th anniversary of those still shocking words: "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..." Listen (mp3). [To read or hear the entire speech, go here.] The terrifying threat at the heart of Goldwater's declaration was nuked less than two months later by Lyndon Johnson's crack advertising team. See the video atop my blog post last month. In an odd coincidence, today also just happens to be the 63rd anniversary of the first successful A-Bomb test, near Los Alamos, New Mexico.
(For an example of fascistic blather from a more recent presidential candidate, look no further than Rudolph Giuliani. Three months into his first term as New York's mayor, he made this statement: "Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do and how you do it.")