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We live in a society that chooses with increasing frequency to leave its most difficult questions for judicial resolution. Until recently, however, the problem of how to punish a miscreant who happens to reside in the White House had never been tossed into the courts. When the President went wrong, the political system dealt with him.

Presidents have gone wrong frequently. Presidents have been accused of misconduct in office for about as long as there have been Presidents. If the more recent Chief Executives sometimes seem to have been especially fond of abusing their powers, that may only be because historians, viewing the distant past through the glass of folklore, have been kind.

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