The Gates of Hell

Over at Rule22, Joshua Huder is fed up with the reporters and correspondents:

On a side note, when is the media going to get more creative with scandal titles? Why must everything end in –gate? From my understanding, a lot of this behavior was on Capitol Hill. I think Weiner-Hill is much more fitting (and possibly appropriate given members’ behavior).

I suppose. On the one hand, I’m all for more fun in reporting, and it’s been a long time since attaching “-gate” to anything has been fun. On the other hand, I’m very much in favor of the idea that Watergate was a monstrously big deal, and so I sort of like the idea that in at least some cases the language of Watergate has survived.

I wonder whether younger political types and reporters are aware of some of the great phrases from back then. “Twist slowly, slowly in the wind.” “Cancer on the presidency” (actually: cancer — within — close to the presidency”). “Deep throat.” “Get her tit caught in a big fat wringer.” “Expletive deleted.” “Modified limited hang out.”

OK, so, two questions. First: anyone have a post-gate suggestion for scandal names?

And, second…hmmm, a two-parter, as we get set for the beginning of the 40th anniversary cycle, beginning next week by marking 40 years since the publication of the Pentagon Papers. For the young’ns, do you feel that you know the story of Watergate? Recognize those phrases? (For that matter, I have no idea whether the Watergate Deep Throat is currently more well-known than the original Deep Throat.) For those who remember it (and, by the way, I’m just on the fringe of that; I have clear memories of Watergate going on, but almost all the details I know about it is from subsequent reading): what do you remember from living through it that you wish people knew about?

For my money, the best single narrative of the whole story is still Fred Emery’s Watergate. I do recommend “All the President’s Men” as a movie, but it’s sketchy as anything more than an introduction to the topic (you want the movie, not the book, version)…I get the sense that most political junkies still watch it, and that’s OK, but it’s a highly skewed version of the story. Also, “Dick” is quite good.

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.