About the “ultimate” meaning of Watergate we cannot be certain. Should we regard it as a transient stain on the Republic which time will blur, as it has blurred so many others? Or does it constitute a new kind of evidence for the view, expressed occasionally in these pages, that we are experiencing a social and moral unraveling, a coming-apart of social binders, a crisis of discipline and belief?
Intellectuals have an occupational fault: they overinterpret. Give them a sunset and it becomes the decline of the West. But there are nonintellectuals who have an opposite fault, habitual if not occupational. Give them the decline of the West and they talk serenely about sunsets. Or they say: “it’s just the same old stuff, there have always been thieves down in Washington….”
Let’s try for a point of balance....
For just $19.95 a year, get access to new issues and decades' worth of archives on our site.
Print + Online
For $29.95 a year, get new issues delivered to your door and access to our full online archives.