I don't want to overly romanticize the Republicans of the postwar era -there were a lot of awful Republicans like McCarthy and his ilk and those involved in the Lester Hunt affair http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lester_C._Hunt. But it is nevertheless noting that the Republicans of the 1940s-1960s were still very progressive on issues such as civil rights
Indeed, if you go to a website such as
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes And look at all the voting records for all the respective civil rights acts (1957, 1960, 1964 and 1965, 1968 et all), you'll find that most of the Republicans -even the very conservative ones -voted for them. Indeed, even in 1968, after many of the Goldwater conservatives had been elected to Congress, many of them still kept voting for civil rights legislation. Goldwater himself softened his anti-civil rights stance he had taken in 1964 and supported some civil rights legislation after he returned to the Senate in 1968
Then if you look at the congressional voting records from the Almanac of American Politics in the 1970s -during and after the Nixon era -you see that Republicans had become more conservative but there were still many who held liberal to moderate positions on social and foreign policy issues (for example quite a few voted against Nixon's bombing of Cambodia and for busing, if my memory serves me correctly). So they were becoming more conservative but they were still comparatively moderate. You got the odd nut (John Schmitz anyone?) but most of them still fell within the mould of moderate mainstream conservatism
After the Reagan Revolution, there was a further shift to the right in terms of Republican ideology. But going through Almanac of American Politics books from that era, you still find that even many of the conservative Reagan-era Republicans for quite moderate on some social and foreign policy issues. For example, a considerable proportion of them voted for comprehensive immigration reform (something they won't touch) now and several of them voted to override President Reagan's veto and impose sanctions on apartheid-era South Africa. And there were still a sufficient number of liberal to moderate Republicans in the party
After the Republican Revolution in the 1990s, the descent into right wing madness started in great earnest. Most of the new Republican class had inherited the worst of Reagan's values and beliefs and that had been combined with the right-wing zealotry of Gingrich and his Contract with America. Added to that, an influx of very right wing Republicans came in from the South -where they had taken over traditional Democratic strongholds. The Republicans of this era were a lot more confrontational and ideologically partisan. This trend continued over the Bush years and were aided by Republicans taking over legislatures in places like Georgia and Texas and gerrymandering congressional districts in that state to let in even more extremist Republicans
And then John McCain thrust Palin into the spotlight and then we had the tea party rise and now even the Gingrich/Bush era Republicans are considered moderate compared to them. Combined with the antics of the Koch brothers/Adelson lackeys and you have the current crop of extremists, crazies and fascist wannabes.
And yet fell so head over heels with Bush and his lies, at least during his first term. You'd think that someone who knew so much how these people worked and the lies and prejudices they promoted and they damage they did would subsequently turn around and embrace the presidency and the policies of someone who was ultimately much worse. And he wrote this at the time when he was at his peak defending Bush and his lies. How could such an intelligent man not see the irony? It is just bizarre beyond belief