On Monday night’s episode of her show, Rachel Maddow excitedly introduced a man named Bill Bogert, the star of “Confessions of a Republican,” a famous, 4-minute political ad produced in 1964 for Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidential campaign. Bogert, whose 1964 self I will somewhat disrespectfully suggest is worthy of a Would U, was (and remains) a registered Republican—but that doesn’t mean he was pleased with his party’s nomination of Barry Goldwater as Johnson’s opponent. Few were, and Johnson won by an incredible margin.
Maddow invited Bogert on her show for an interview (he says she’s the first journalist who’s ever offered) to discuss the parallels between Goldwater’s nomination and the Republican party’s current conundrum with Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, and the resulting segment is one that is as charming as it is disheartening. Though told in the captivating manner of a kind octogenarian, it’s still a story we’ve heard before—and one that we’ll keep hearing throughout our country’s foreseeable political future.
Although he was an actor and took the job as a paid gig, Bogert claims he wasn’t playing a role. He told Maddow:
[I told them] If you hire me as an actor, I’ll say whatever the hell you want me to say. But if you’re using my name, then it’s got to be something I believe. And they [laughs] were frightened by that, and went off in a corner. They came back and said, all right, let’s try. So, we did. There was one thing that I wanted changed—I don’t remember what it was, but they did make the change.
Maddow ends the segment by discussing “other Republican criticism of Goldwater” from the time. Despite George Romney’s warning that the Republican party “would be committing suicide” if they nominated Goldwater, the “Republican party didn’t self-immolate” or “become a fundamentally different thing.” She then asks Bogert, “Does that give you any hope that maybe if they pick Trump it’ll be all right?”
He sighs and swivels in his chair a bit before responding.
“I guess so. I don’t know.”
You can watch the full segment (it’s so great) below.
Image via screengrab.