Mark Leibovich, New York Times Magazine chief national correspondent and author of This Town, this decade’s buzziest anthropological study of Washington, sees a shift in attitudes, but notes that D.C.’s culture of second chances runs deep ― at least for its public figures ― so long as the redeemed person is politically useful.

“There has always been the barrel, and there have always been people spending time in it,” said Leibovich of periods of political exile and infamy. “What do you have to do to never emerge from the barrel? It’s a pretty forgiving barrel. The cushion is time.”

“I do think it’s an interesting time for barrel sciences,” he added.