George Washington's Waterboard

Enhanced interrogator?

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Politics, we are often told, is about the future. That's one reason politicians kiss babies. But as a Mississippi writer pointed out, the past is ambitious. It dominates the present and loiters in the future. That's why Tea Partyers summon the ghosts of a colonial tax revolt. And it's why politicians climb aboard the shoulders of past giants when searching for a place to stand: Reagan here, Roosevelt there.

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