All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances.
So said Shakespeare. The player on center stage now is the President of the United States, and the whole world is wondering about his exit. Will he resign, be impeached and convicted, or complete his term?
There can be no doubt that a large percentage of those who voted for Richard Nixon in November, 1972, no longer have confidence in him, and that his capacity to execute the functions of his office has been considerably reduced. Whether guilty or innocent of impeachable offenses—“treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”—he bears the ultimate responsibility for what Watergate has come to stand for.
Mr. Nixon’s problems were greatly intensified by his release of the transcripts of the tapes. Up to that time the major if not the only question was a legal one: Did he have advance knowledge of Watergate and was he involved in the cover-up? To that has been added a large question of morality. The transcripts show him to be a person who has failed gravely to live up to the moral demands of our Judeo-Christian heritage. We do not expect perfection, but we rightly expect our leaders, and especially our President, to practice a higher level of morality than the tapes reveal.
And so did Richard M. Nixon himself, in 1960, judging from his remarks in a televised campaign debate with John F. Kennedy. What he said about “dignity and decency and, frankly, good language” in the conduct of the presidency makes ironic reading now: “And I only hope that should I win this election, that I could [see] to it that whenever any mother or father talks to his child, he can ...1
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