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Opening Arguments

Free for me but not for thee

Our irony-challenged first lady:

First lady Michelle Obama told students that freedom of speech should be a universal right during her extravagant, no-press-allowed tour of China — a hypocritical move that will surely draw the ire of critics, according to an expert.

“That is troublesome. That goes beyond hypocritical, and I think the American media and the international media has every right to call her and the Obama administration on that — that they permitted that to happen,” said Tom Whalen, a political history professor at Boston University. “It makes you shake your head, albeit sadly.”

The first lady stopped at Peking University in Beijing yesterday during a weeklong trip that was billed as cultural rather than political. She told students, accustomed to China’s tight Internet restrictions, that the free flow of information is crucial “because that’s how we discover truth, that’s how we learn what’s really happening in our communities and our country and our world.”

Truly jaw-dropping thick-headedness. Of course, "freedom of speech" does not include a right to access the information that the speech would be exercised on behalf of, but it's generally understood in a democracy that the "free flow of information" leading us to "discover truth" is possible only with a government that is transparent and honest.

Yes, I know we're all hypocritical at times, and most politicians grudgingly give us only the information they absolutely have to. But as with most political sins, the Obama team manages to go to such extremes that it constitutes abusing the privilege.

(Using "albeit" for "although" is too precious and then some. Just don't, OK?)