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On Politics and the Press

September 02, 1998

"The office of special prosecutor is an essentially undemocratic office with an essentially fascistic writ of power. It is also a guarantee of increased public disaffection, of legal distraction and expense on a grand scale, and of potential government paralysis."

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"The puritan desire for efficiency, order and virtue does not always translate into positive--or even intended--political results. Look at Jimmy Carter: a good man and a limited leader. Then look at Bill Clinton: perhaps a less good man and a master politician. . . . Then think of Franklin Roosevelt: a complex mix of personal morality and motive, and a great president."

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"Columnists, TV commentators and anchormen stop just short of claiming ancient clerical powers once covered and sustained by 'grace of office': the power of absolution (which has been handed down by Barbara Walters) and the seal of the confessional (now called 'confidentiality of sources')."

--From "No-Fault Politics: Modern Presidents, the Press and Reformers," by Eugene McCarthy (Times Books)

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