- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 2, 2005

Deep motives

“One month before the Watergate break-in, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had died. Hoover loyalists at the bureau were frantic that President Richard Nixon would get his mitts on the FBI, which Hoover had kept independent of political control through a variety of nasty methods, including blackmail.

“The Hooverites’ bureaucratic anxieties were well-founded: After the Watergate break-in, Hoover’s acting successor, a Nixon loyalist named L. Patrick Gray, routinely passed FBI files about Watergate directly to White House counsel John Dean, who was a party to (but eventually would expose) the White House’s illegal coverup. In effect, the White House ended up knowing everything the FBI knew. … [Former FBI deputy associate director W. Mark] Felt pushed back by helping [Bob] Woodward and [Carl] Bernstein discover that high-level White House aides were in up to their necks in Watergate, up to and including Nixon. …

“Why did Felt maintain his silence for so long? Part of the reason, I imagine, is that Felt knew his prosaic, bureaucratic-infighting motive was at least as strong as any moralistic desire to expose the truth about the crooks in the White House. That tarnishes Deep Throat’s luster a little.”

— Timothy Noah, writing on “Deep Throat, antihero,” Tuesday in Slate at www.slate.com

Tut-tut, indeed

“Had it not been for Bill O’Reilly … I would not have seen the ad in which a thong-suited Paris Hilton, overdressed by her own recent standards, touts a burger so brazen that it looks like the patties have had silicone implants. …

“Mr. O’Reilly’s plaint was that the ad, put out by a fast-food chain called Carl’s Jr., was inappropriate for a family restaurant. … Yet how does he manifest his disapproval? By airing the eye-catching spot on his show not once, but twice — all the while tut-tutting and huffing like some suburban Savonarola. …

“Paris Hilton is not selling herself: She is merely selling burgers. Tawdry though it may be, there is proof in all this of the distance we’ve traveled from a barbarous state. And there’s proof, also, of the humor we’ve acquired along the way.”

— Tunku Varadarajan, writing on “Do you love Paris?” May 27 in the Wall Street Journal

Studio madness

“In 1964, [classical composer] Glenn Gould made a famous decision to renounce live performance. In an essay published two years later, ‘The Prospects of Recording,’ he predicted that the concert would eventually die out, to be replaced by a purely electronic music culture. He may still be proved right. For now, live performance clings to life, and, in tandem, the classical-music tradition that could hardly exist without it. …

“A few months after Gould published his essay, the Beatles, in a presumably unrelated development, played their last live show, in San Francisco. They spent the rest of their short career working in the recording studio. They proved, as did Gould, that the studio breeds startlingly original ideas; they also proved, as did Gould, that it breeds a certain kind of madness.

“I’ll take ‘Rubber Soul’ over ‘Sgt. Pepper’s.’ … The fact that the Beatles broke up three years after they disappeared into the studio, and the fact that Gould died in strange psychic shape at the age 50, may tell us all we need to know about the seductions and sorrows of the art of recording.”

— Alex Ross, writing on “The record effect,” in the June 6 issue of the New Yorker

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