THIS country can never have too many curmudgeons, and one of its best is 84-year-old Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican nominee for president and originator of the movement that has pushed the GOP farther right -- make that farther to the religious right -- than he can stomach.
In a recent interview with the Arizona Republic, old "Mr. Conservative" made some pointed observations:
On the religious right: "A bunch of nuts and crackpots. . . I've said before that Jerry Falwell should be kicked in the ass, and I meant it. He has a big one. You can't miss it."
On Ross Perot: "A big noise. . . If I had a government that's in bad shape, I wouldn't want Ross Perot. I'd want a politician, somebody who knows what trouble is. . . It took me two years to find out that being a businessman didn't help."
On Bob Dole: "I can't imagine Dole making the mistakes that he's been making, trying to get Congress to have a bigger hand [in foreign policy and military commitments in Haiti and Bosnia.]. . . I've often said I'm a damn sight better off to have one man with the power to send me to war than 535 people who have a hard time spelling 'Washington'. . . He [Dole] has a mean little temper [and] ought to go home."
On gambling operations at Indian reservations: "You legalize gambling in the state and you fill it up with a bunch of crap."