The Nation: Universal Hisses

In the U.S. today many public men must sympathize with Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost, who hears "On all sides, from innumerable tongues/ A dismal universal hiss, the sound/ Of public scorn." It is a period in which reputations seem extraordinarily vulnerable, in which everyone's bank of prestige faces a run.

Cases vary widely. State and local officials are being investigated and indicted in unprecedented numbers. The record of a durable doer like New York's Robert Moses is debunked. The awesome images of Nelson Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger have been leaked on with...

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