My post yesterday mentioning William Miller, Barry Goldwater’s selection for vice president in 1964, prompted these reflections from my conservative cousin in New York:
Your comparison of Bill Miller and Sarah Palin brought back memories of Miller’s very effective stint as a celebrity endorser for American Express. The ad showed Miller trying to purchase merchandise from a department store cashier who is reluctant to approve his transaction. He turns to the camera and asks “Do you know me?”. Then he whips out his AMEX card and his purchase is approved. Miller faces the camera and says “With the American Express Card they treat me like I won”.
This ad ran just a few years after he ran and shows how fast he faded from the national conscience. I doubt that this could happen today to a candidate for national office. But I am sure the Dems wish John Edwards and Joe Lieberman would just fade away.
The thinking behind Miller’s nomination was that as a blue collar Roman Catholic he could appeal to ethnics disaffected from the New Deal coalition. In this, as in so many other areas, Goldwater was just a little ahead of his time.
Miller was the son of a man who earned his living sweeping factory floors in Buffalo. He was from a suburban Western New York district most of which I believe eventually became part of Jack Kemp’s constituency. He’s still the only Catholic ever nominated for national office by the GOP. Come to think of it, are any of the leading 2012 GOP candidates Catholic?