Fulcrum Ruminations

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Fulcrum of History

So now we know who Deep Throat was.

Big, fat, hairy deal.

Seriously. If this had come out around, oh, 1976, 78 or so it would have been a big deal. Thirty years after the fact it's a matter of minor historical significance. Nixon has been dead for years, many of the other Watergate principals are dead, and Watergate itself has been buzzworded out of proportion or any understanding of its importance. Consider how every new scandal that comes along is referred to as "something-gate." I think we'll need several more decades to finally get the proper perspective on the whole sorry affair.

The number two guy at the FBI was leaking inside info to a couple of reporters from the Washington Post. Probably breaking more than a few laws himself in the process, but what the hey, right? It's kind of sad that the whole thing seems to have been motivated by Felt's anger at having been passed over for the top spot.

Nixon remains a figure of ridicule, despite some not-inconsiderable achievements while in office. Coming right on the heels of the VietNam debacle, Watergate did tremendous damage to our sense of nation and our trust in government. It wasn't until the 80s and Ronald Reagan that it was okay to believe in America again.

On balance it could be argued that Watergate showed that the checks and balances built into our government work as intended. A president up to illegal shenanigans was brought to heel by the power of an open press and the mechanisms built into the legislative branch . . . he resigned largely to avoid being impeached.

I suppose it's somehow appropriate that a major figure in the affair was motivated by something so plebian as bruised ego. Somehow, on the fulcrum of history, that probably balances out Nixon's own inflated sense of his own importance.

We'll see what the history books say fifty years from now.


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