Essay: There You Go Again

Till cant cease, nothing else can begin.

—Thomas Carlyle

There are moments in American life when events lurch out of context, when the public is hurtled from dim awareness of a seemingly trivial news item into a maelstrom of moral reappraisal. That appears to be happening in the affair that the Washington press corps has predictably dubbed "Debategate."

The story first arose as a footnote to history: a terse report that a "briefing book" drawn up to help President Carter prepare for his 1980 campaign debate with Ronald Reagan found its way to Reagan's staff...

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