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Common Sense

What's the Big Secret?

Both conservatives and progressives seem hypocritical in their views on WikiLeaks.


Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton responds to the leak of classified cables by WikiLeaks.(JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s funny. Based on the viral response to my column last week on WikiLeaks, you would have thought I was giving away classified information myself. This column has generated more hits and interest than any video or column I have ever posted. Wow. Certainly struck a chord out there.
The overwhelming set of comments, especially on Huffington Post and in e-mails sent directly to me, were very positive -- many along the lines (which had to make me laugh) that “I never thought I would agree with Dowd, but I am posting this anyway.”    
I think there is a hunger in America and the world for truth and for leaders to be more frank, and a terrible distrust in government and its ability to reflect our deepest hopes, dreams, and concerns. And this distrust, though manifested in different ways, exists both for folks on the conservative side and on the progressive side, which is why I think openness and telling the truth is viewed as such a powerful value at this time.
I do have to smile, though, when I think about some conservatives and Republicans who criticize WikiLeaks and me for advocating more truth in our discourse and less state involvement in secrets. Aren’t they the ones arguing that the government can’t be trusted with our money? So the feds can be trusted with national security secrets and make decisions on important classification levels, but can’t be trusted with Medicare funds?
And conversely, I laugh when many progressives celebrate my column and WikiLeaks' release of information because government is some sort of cabal of corporate and authoritarian interests. Don't these same progressives want government more involved in our lives on health care and medical decisions?
I do think this discussion is very healthy and shows a tremendous hunger for more transparency and information in the public sphere, even if you disagree with Julian Assange’s way of doing business. One thing is certain. You can add WikiLeaks to a list that includes Sarah Palin: Mention either of those these days, and you're sure to generate some buzz. 

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