Lucianne Goldberg on living life in American political history

From the day JFK chose LBJ as his running mate to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Lucianne Goldberg has just about seen it all. She explains about her career and opinions in a candid discussion.  Photo: American Experience/File uncredited

FLORIDA, November 8, 2012 — The American political arena is at once intriguing, complex, and mesmerizing. From the corridors of power in Washington to the studios of talk radio hosts, it can honestly be said that there is never a dull moment.

Lucianne Goldberg has been a witness to many of modern American history’s defining moments. As an operative of the Democratic Party, she was afforded a behind the scenes look at Lyndon B. Johnson’s vice presidential nomination. 

Less than one decade later, she became a spy for the Nixon campaign, working behind the lines of George McGovern’s ill-fated White House bid.

More recently, Goldberg played a pivotal role in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Along with Matt Drudge, she used the Internet to coordinate a media campaign of epic proportions against Bill Clinton. This effectively forced our country to take online journalism seriously.  

Now, in a candid interview, she explains about her remarkable career, as well as her opinions regarding political conservatism.   


Joseph F. Cotto: During the early 1960s, you were active in Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and the Kennedy Administration. What was it like working in politics during such a historical time?

Lucianne Goldberg: The entrance of JFK onto the political scene made us know something very different had happened. First Catholic, colorful and “iffy” family, beautiful wife and money money money. It was not widely known how much the Johnson people disliked the Kennedys and vice versa. People forget that Johnson ran against JFK in the primaries and Johnson insiders worked tirelessly to spread negative stories about the Kennedys.

When JFK chose LBJ as his running mate the fury inside the campaign was palpable. I was with John Connally and his staff at the Ambassador Hotel in LA at the convention and I thought he was going to put his fist through the wall. Of  course, if JFK hadn’t picked him he never would have been president when “they shot the boss” as people inside called JFK’s death in Dallas. All in all, the grand love affair between the American public and JFK was not unlike the early cult- like devotion to Barack Obama.

Cotto: Later on in the ‘60s, you became a literary agent. Since then, the American publishing industry has changed substantially. Do you believe that this, generally speaking, has been a positive development?

Goldberg: I became a literary agent after several years as a free lance writer when I realized that conservatives had a hard time getting someone in the establishment liberal publishing industry to represent their work. (The only publishing house available to them was Regnery.) Watergate had just happened and suddenly publishers began to realize that money could be made from conservative writers.

Cotto: You gained notoriety in the ‘70s for your activism against the women’s liberation movement. Why did you oppose this?

Goldberg: As a conservative I found the thinking of the early women’s liberation movement socialistic, non-productive and based on the hatred of men. I felt their demand for equality ridiculous. Equality to me and the women my group represented was a step down in our society. Our argument was not against equal pay but was more social in nature. We liked men, we liked being treated in a special way and we knew women would end up doing it all anyway. They have.

Cotto: During the Nixon administration, you were a reporter-spy behind the lines of George McGovern’s presidential campaign. Why did you choose to accept this role?

Goldberg: I was asked by a client and former Nixon associate to replace a reporter who had been covering the campaign. Apparently this was a role played by operatives in both camps in those days and not unusual. The job required traveling on the McGovern plane and reporting back to a White House stenographer what went on everyday. The notes were then delivered by car to the President. He liked any jokes I had heard included.  I chose to accept this job because I wanted Mr. Nixon to win and it sounded like a great adventure. It was.

Cotto: In more modern times, you played a crucial role in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Why did you take such an active role in opposing Bill Clinton?

Goldberg: A client who worked in the White House approached me with a book outline that told the story of President Clinton’s ongoing affair with a 23-year-old intern. A Newsweek reporter was already on the story and she wanted to protect her knowledge. When Newsweek decided not to publish the story she asked me to get the information out and I called Matt Drudge whose web site was just getting up to speed. Because the president denied the relationship the story became huge and lasted for nearly a year. As I was associated with it I had no choice but to protect myself and my client from a frenzied media.

It helped that I didn’t like Mr. Clinton. Still don’t.

Cotto: Over the last several years, the American right-wing has become considerably more hardline. Do you suppose that there might be a specific reason for this?

Goldberg: I don’t like the phrase right-wing. It makes like minded people who believe in conservative values sound cultish. You also assume that the right has become more hard line. I don’t agree. Those of us on the right may seem more strident in the face of the socialist slant the government is taking but we’ve not changed how we feel at all in my opinion.

Cotto: One of the gravest concerns frequently cited with modern conservatism is the rise of hot-button social issues. What is your opinion about this?

Goldberg: If you mean same sex marriage, abortion, stem cell research on the unborn and gun control I don’t see them “rising.” We’ve never liked these ideas and never will. That’s consistent and unmoving.

Cotto: In your view, what does it mean to be a traditional conservative?

Goldberg: God, family, flag, small government and being left alone to live one’s life within the law.

Cotto: In the Republican Party, followers of Ron Paul are storming the establishment’s gates, so to speak. At the same time, social rightists are attempting to become the GOP’s dominant faction. All of this has left moderates more or less out of the picture. During the years ahead, which path do you see the Party taking?

Goldberg: There are so many assumptions in this question I chose not to address them. Let me just say I seem to have ducked the gate storming and certainly don’t feel my ideas are out of the picture.

I still can’t stand Barbara Streisand.

Cotto: Now that our discussion is at its end, many readers are probably wondering how it was that you came to be such a noted figure in American politics. What inspired you to become involved in the political realm?

Goldberg: I don’t see myself as a “noted figure” just a dedicated conservative with a web site and an interesting history. A history that was not so inspired as it was lucky.


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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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