WASHINGTON — Forget it, America. It’s Chinatown.
Washington, once the guarantor of American values, is a crime scene. This capital of white marble is now encircled by yellow tape, rife with mendacity, cowardice and corruption. It’s Chinatown on the Potomac.
Robert Towne, the screenwriter of the 1974 classic “Chinatown,” wrote the movie as a eulogy to great things that were lost. He said that he was not conjuring a place on a map but a state of mind: the futility of good intentions.
Or, as Raymond Chandler, the premier chronicler of Los Angeles noir, once wrote: “We still have dreams, but we know now that most of them will come to nothing. And we also most fortunately know that it really doesn’t matter.”
“Chinatown” was set in 1937, right before the war. Like Jack Nicholson’s Jake Gittes, America was naïve about the forces of real corruption, real evil.