Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Deep Throat – The Legend:

Remember Watergate? It's ten years now since we learned the identity of Deep Throat – the man who served as Woodward and Bernstein’s source in the political saga that brought down President Richard M. Nixon.  

  • Growing up in the Nixon era, I was brought up to see Deep Throat as a hero.

I imagined a person of great principle who saw wrong being done in the White House. A man who felt so compelled by the need to expose the truth that he took risks–perhaps even risk his own safety–to share critical information with Woodward and Bernstein, the two eager and heroic reporters of our generation.

  • The truth is out now and so is the let down.

Deep Throat – The Person:

Deep Throat, aka Mark Felt, appears to have been a complex man. He apparently was snubbed because Nixon bypassed him for a promotion after Hoover’s death. According to Bob Woodward, he disliked Nixon, and worried about the future of the FBI. 

With Watergate, he had access to Nixon’s misdeeds, and pursued a course to expose him.

Felt was not a selfless man. With a number of years behind us, it appears that Felt was a man with an agenda, and some of it was personal.

Here is Woodward’s account of what happened and speculation about Felt’s motivation to expose Nixon and his cronies.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-mark-felt-became-deep-throat...

Deep Throat – Deep Flaws:

So where is the rub? What is the problem?

You see, in today's age we are considered post-modernists. Depth psychology – and Doctor Freud – have taught us too much about the nature of heroes and about leaders. We've been taught that sordid motivations can lie behind righteous intentions. Even our pastors, priests and rabbis - who claim a higher standard - may be motivated (and  more than they realize) by vanity, greed and other less pleasant human drives.

The post-modern mind deconstructs our heroes, our leaders and even ourselves into plain, flawed inadequate people. The deconstruction can happen with George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, as well as with mom or dad or the most pious person leading our communities.

The fact that the great hero of the Nixon Era - Deep Throat - was simply too human, provides us with another example of an inadequate and very dirty hero, in fact probably not a hero at all.

Or so, common wisdom would like us to think.

Deep Throat – Our Collective Critique:

For the record - I object to this kind of thinking.

Sometimes, we deconstruct and dilute the valuable in the name of psychology.

As a child psychiatrist, I get adolescent thinking. And that is where we are at. Whether it’s the media, our children or culture itself - we tend to look for the clay feet in our heroes and celebrate their plainness.

We undermine the dignity and greatness of what flawed human beings actually bring to the table. While human beings are probably much plainer and baser than we claim to be, we are paradoxically much greater than we realize.

The key with this Deep Throat moment is to see it's greatness.

Greatness?

Yes.

Deep Throat – A Hero for His Time:

It seems that Mark Felt was a man that, despite ugly motivations, did rise to do the right thing at the right time. He contained a presidency that was built on criminal deceit and he did it by enabling the media to become a stronger watchdog in our governance.

So, what if an ugly aspect of a person’ personality rises to do a great thing?

  • What matters most is that something great happened. The fact that the person involved was flawed is less important than the act itself.  
  • Normal people can do great things. Even flawed normal people.
  • After all, if Mark Felt rose to greatness, what might we accomplish if we apply ourselves?

Conclusion:

We are all flawed and the post-modern approach is correct.

Freud was right.

We are uglier and baser than we would like anyone to think and so with our leaders. But, when a human being does something great it remains great despite the motivation behind it.

Let us all be inspired to do great things, just because we can.

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Research Assistant, Gabriel Banschick

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* Thanks to Gabriel Banschick for helping to research and develop this piece.

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