I had to catch my breath when I heard that Deep Throat had outed himself. I was back in Warren, Mich, watching the Watergate hearings all summer long. I ran home from school or came in from playing outside to watch Sam Ervin, Howard Baker, Daniel Inouye and Barbara Jordan peeling back the layers of subterfuge. I wanted to be them. I wanted to come to Washington.
The parade of “bad guys” was part of the pull. This was my introduction to reality TV. Sometimes it was dull, but sometimes something shocking would happen. Who were all these people in the White House? What did they do? There wasn’t a West Wing to school me in the arcane White House ops.
While I thought that we were witnessing the end of an era–one in my child’s mind included the unthinkable of a lying president–I don’t think anybody at the time really saw for whom the bell tolled. It was for being honorable and answering a Congressional investigation truthfully. Not to say, “I don’t quite recall” as a duck, or arguing over what the definition of “is” is.
When the Watergate crooks were asked a question, they answered it. They made deals and took the Fifth, but they answered questions. With the current level of obfuscation and bombardment of a message until it becomes de facto fact, whatever happened to the old-style political fiends?