Such a confrontation was again deemed "not good for the country," so the American people were left in the dark on details like whether Reagan's contacts with Iran dated back to 1980 when he -- like Nixon before him -- may have sabotaged a sitting president by exploiting back-channel foreign contacts, this time with Iranian leaders holding 52 Americans hostage. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com's "The New October Surprise Series" or Secrecy & Privilege.]
While these and other truncated investigations might have protected the fragile comity of Official Washington, they have done more harm to the country than good.
Not only have Republicans come to think they can get away with almost anything, but millions of Americans have grown cynical and suspicious of whatever the government tells them. And, when the credibility of the government is hollowed out, legitimate skepticism and unfounded conspiracy theories compete to fill the vacuum.
That can prove fatal for a Republic that relies on the informed consent of the electorate for its legitimate authority.
It's not enough for the likes of the Washington Post's editors to insist that everyone sit down, fold their hands and accept whatever they're told. Even if the American people follow those instructions, the endless manipulation of citizens who are kept in ignorance about what the government is doing will inevitably lead to some new-age Orwellian dictatorship, not a democracy worth the name.
Today, the ugly truth is that the Supreme Court's GOP Five are using their black judicial robes to conceal their uniforms as Republican partisans. The Washington Post's editors can instruct us not to notice, but that will not change this dangerous reality.