In the summer of 1964, I got into a curious argument -- for a nine-year old that is -- with a dour neighbor who announced his intention to vote for Senator Barry Goldwater, the Republican challenger for president who, that year ran against incumbent Lyndon Johnson.

I had seen a disturbing anti-Goldwater commercial on television the week before, which insinuated that should the hawkish senator from Arizona be elected, the odds favored him starting a nuclear war. And for good measure, the ad featured a framed ending with the ominous mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb.

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