It appears the most serious offense you can commit in Washington these days is telling the truth. You get a pass on torture, aggressive war, killing civilians, lying, destroying evidence and such, but don't dare give honest information to the American people.
The penalties can range from possible life imprisonment for Pvt. Bradley Manning, who allegedly disclosed classified information to the public via WikiLeaks, to getting fired, like what happened to State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley for calling the Pentagon's harsh and humiliating treatment of Manning "counterproductive and stupid."
Yet, no one suggests that what Manning allegedly released wasn't true; nor could you dispute Crowley's assessment that the forced nudity and the maximum security treatment of Manning hurt the U.S. image, especially since these acts recall George W. Bush's mistreatment of "war on terror" detainees.
But it seems President Barack Obama is especially eager to go the extra mile to show the Establishment that he can be trusted with the secrets, that his administration can hide the truth as assiduously as the last one, if not more so.
There's also the recent case of NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller who was secretly videotaped noting that the Tea Party included some "racist" individuals. For making that startling comment, Schiller was not only canned by NPR but was stripped of a prospective job at the Aspen Institute.
Yet, Schiller may have been thinking about Tea Party activists who insist that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and was raised with Mau Mau influences inherited from his father, causing the President to view the English as, god forbid, "imperialists."
Oddly, some of these Tea Partiers, who are known for dressing up in American revolutionary garb, are now up in arms over someone looking at English history and detecting imperialism. To do so may qualify you to be portrayed in Tea Party posters like Obama was, dressed as an African bushman.
But just as you must not see evidence of imperialism in the British Empire, you must not see racism in how the Tea Party reacts to the first African-American president. To do so in Washington makes you unemployable.
No Invasion Here
Similar rules apply to the behavior of countries depending on whether they're categorized as "good guys" or "bad guys."
For instance, in 1979, when the old Soviet Union sent troops into Afghanistan to bolster the country's communist government, which was besieged by U.S.-backed Islamic fundamentalists, that was called an "invasion." But on Monday, when Saudi Arabian troops rumbled into Bahrain to support an embattled Sunni monarchy against the country's Shiite majority, it was an "intervention."
On Tuesday, the New York Times' front-page story suggested that Shiite-rule Iran, a U.S. adversary, was behaving recklessly when it described the Saudi action as an "occupation." The Times added, "Iran even went so far as to call the troop movement an invasion."
Bring the smelling salts! Imagine calling a "troop movement" into a sovereign nation -- against the will of a majority of its people -- an "invasion," or, for that matter, labeling Great Britain's military occupation of foreign lands "imperialism." Who would say such things?
Yet, while the Times thought Iran was going over the top with words like "occupation" and "invasion," other comments -- no matter how crazy when made by prominent Republicans -- are treated with respect. So, the Times described Mississippi's Republican Gov. Haley Barbour as "testing themes" when he said the following:
"Let's look at [Obama's] record," Barbour told a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Chicago. "In the last two years, the federal government spent $7 trillion and our economy lost seven million jobs. I guess we ought to be glad they didn't spend $12 trillion. We might have lost 12 million jobs."
In a different political era, one might have expected responsible journalists to note how absurd -- and dangerous -- Barbour's "theme" was. The reason the economy lost seven million jobs was the Wall Street financial crisis, which occurred on George W. Bush's watch and was touched off by reckless gambling and scant regulation. The trillions in government bailouts were a reaction, not a cause.