Friday, December 19, 2008

He Speaks No More

America marks the death of a man with an interesting niche in its political history. Mark Felt, who, as associate director of the FBI, leaked details of the Watergate Cover-up to reporters from The Washington Post, has died at the age of 95.

While his role in the Nixon case was a significant one, he perhaps would not have captured the national imagination to quite the degree he did, had he not been given the moniker "Deep Throat", by one of the reporters. His anonymity over the years added to the aura of mystery about him, until he revealed the secret three years ago.

It's one of those "what ifs" of history that can be fruitlessly debated forever: would the cover-up have succeeded, had Felt not done what he did?

This also reminds those of us old enough to remember the time during which the scandal played out, in 1972, 1973 and 1974 (including this politics-obsessed teenager), of how much time has passed. I quickly threw together a not-necessarily-exhaustive list of 16 major players (other than Felt) on all sides of Watergate.

11 of them are dead by now: Leon Jaworski (1982), Sam Ervin (1985), John Sirica (1992), H.R. Haldeman (1993), Richard Nixon (1994), Spiro Agnew (1996), John Ehrlichman (1999), Archibald Cox (2004), Peter Rodino (2005), Gerald Ford (2006) and Howard Hunt (2007).

Five who are still around are all rather mature by now, including: Howard Baker, 83; Gordon Liddy, 78; John Dean, 70; Bob Woodward, 65; and Carl Bernstein, 64.

There must be some supernatural explanation. It can't be that I'm getting old!

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