Timothy Denevi at the Paris Review:
But the real surprise came just as his speech appeared to be winding down. Goldwater, after a brief silence, glanced at the podium, his jaw jutting sharply. Then, gazing out on the 1,308 delegatesbelow, he said, pausing every couple words, “I would remind you … that extremism … in defense of liberty … is no vice.” In the next instant, Thompson found himself at the epicenter of the most primal expression of political fervor he would ever witness. The delegates howled and cheered, their voices buttressed by innumerable noisemakers, trumpets, klaxons, and cowbells. Thompson watched people in the rows ahead of him bang their bodies against their chairs, their chairs against the floor, and the floor rumbled against their countless stomping feet.
Later that night, Thompson left the Cow Palace and crossed the six miles back to downtown San Francisco with thousands of other attendees. He’d pushed himself too hard; the crash was coming: in a few hours, he’d descend into a state of drunken dissolution. Still, that moment on the floor was one he’d never forget. “When GW made his acceptance speech,” he explained In a letter to his friend Paul Semonin a few months afterward, he admits to “actually feeling afraid because I was the only person not clapping and shouting. And I was thinking, God damn you nazi bastards I really hope you win it, because letting your kind of human garbage flood the system is about the only way to really clean it out. Another four years of Ike would have brought on a national collapse, but one year of Goldwater would have produced a revolution.”