ALS as president, one page, 6.25 x 9.25, White House letterhead, June 2, 1998. Letter to the widow of Barry Goldwater, Susan Wechsler Goldwater, offering condolences on the death of the famed 1964 Republican presidential candidate. In full: “Hillary and I wish we could be with you, the rest of Barry’s family, and the legion of his friends from Arizona and the rest of America as you say farewell. Few Americans in our history have served the people with such a remarkable blend of conviction, integrity and basic decency. All of us who knew Barry were lifted by the sparkle in his eyes, the warmth of his heart, the depth of his humanity. He leaves us all the richer for his life, and keenly aware of a legacy of citizenship we must try to emulate. Now he has taken his best flight to a better place, which he so richly deserves.” In fine condition, with three unobtrusive faint stains to right edge, affecting nothing.
This remarkable letter not only recalls an era of common decency in American politics, but demonstrates the long-term impact of Goldwater’s unconventional methods on both sides of the aisle. The Clintons were more closely tied with Goldwater than it might appear on the surface, considering their political differences; Hillary had even been a ‘Goldwater Girl’ during his 1964 campaign before turning to more liberal tendencies shortly thereafter. Goldwater came to Bill Clinton’s defense—with typical candor—early on in Clinton’s presidency when Clinton was under severe media scrutiny, saying in a 1993 interview, ‘I wish somebody could tell me what the hell is wrong with the news media. It’s no good. When Bush and Clinton were running against each other, they tore Bush apart…Now they’re tearing the president apart…Why not help him? Here’s a young man that is the president of the United States, he was elected by a majority…I don’t think the media of this country are doing much of a job in promoting America.’ He supported Clinton again the following year when Clinton was under attack by Republicans on the Whitewater scandal, telling the party to ‘get off his back and let him be president.’ For his part, Bill Clinton once called Goldwater ‘a saint’ and visited him in Arizona in 1996 during the 87-year-old retired senator’s recovery from a stroke. Scarce in itself as an autograph letter signed as president, the exceptional content of this letter elevates it to a significant piece of American history. Pre-certified PSA/DNA.
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