Time Essay: A Ghostly Conversation on the Meaning of Watergate

One recent night, two figures, hardly more than shadows, were sitting side by side at the base of the Washington Monument in the nation's capital. It was late, long past midnight. The old city was dark and quiet. The great Mall surrounding the Monument, crowded with summer tourists a few hours earlier, was empty now, and the lighted marble obelisk glowed in towering solitude.

The two figures, dressed for the humid summer in silk shirts, knee breeches and buckle shoes, rested against the Monument wall inside the wide circle of flags. One of the...

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