Poolside Follies

The other Saturday I was delegated by my wife to take sandwiches down to the neighborhood pool for my son and Pete, his overnight guest.

When I arrived at the pool, the two of them were sitting against the fence in the spot reserved for those who have been temporarily ejected from the pool for misbehavior.

“What did you do?” I asked.

“We were fooling around on the diving board,” my son responded with appropriate head-hanging and toe-scuffing.

“That was pretty foolish. How long do you have to sit out?”

“An hour.”

“That’s a pretty long penalty.”

“It’s O.K.,” he said. “It’s almost over.”

Like many neighborhood pools, ours has no list of rules or penalties. Each lifeguard has to determine what behavior constitutes a hazard and what the penalty shall be. It probably has to be that way.

G. K. Chesterton reminded his anarchic friends that if men will not have rules they will have rulers. There are, he said, only two kinds of social structure possible—personal government and impersonal government.

All of which brings me (for the first and last time) to Watergate.

There is a sentiment among some people within and without the administration to put the executive branch of our government beyond the law.

I have a running argument with one of my neighbors about this.

“The President is the highest executive officer in the land!” he heatedly maintains. “Therefore he cannot be subject to law enforcement. The police can’t go around arresting themselves.”

With equal heat, I respond, “The humblest policeman in Washington should be able to arrest the President if he has evidence that the President has committed a crime.”

“The President should be unindictable even if he openly commits murder,” he continues. “Otherwise, government is impossible.” ...

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