Without doubt, the most dangerous place to stand in all of Washington is on your principle.
You think it is unfair for the IRS to take even more money from the hard workers and small businesses that already contribute so much to the fiscal calamity that has become the federal government? Well, you clearly are in the pocket of the wealthy.
You think it would be gross recklessness to ratchet up the percentage of money that is taken away from hard-working citizens for their hard labors and given to the tax collector because to do so would only set the federal government on a certain and permanent course of growing even larger than its current gargantuan and ungovernable size? Well, clearly, you just want to destroy the middle class.
You think that just because we are $16 trillion in debt and borrowing 46 cents on every dollar we spend that the government might seriously consider cutting back how much it spends? Well, you are a racist, hateful person who wants to kill poor people. You are like the king in the Monty Python movie who shoots skeet with local peasants instead of clay pigeons. "Pull!"
No, here in the town of theft and lies, the man who stands on principle is destroyed. This is a town of grease-slicked used-car salesmen who like to wheel and deal and trade this for that.
You don't even have to be good at it. You just have to really enjoy trading your principles away in exchange for watching somebody else trade his principles away.
That is why we have seen so many Republicans in recent days clamoring to give away their principled stance against tax-rate increases, even though nobody on the other side has even hinted they might budge from their stance of spending massive more amounts of money they do not have that somebody else will have to pay back.
This is not to say that President Obama is some sort of paragon of principle. Quite the opposite. Few in Washington have proven more shameless when it comes to shedding principle for short-term political gain.
Even as he fights to lock in higher tax rates that cannot even match his insatiable appetite for bigger and bigger government, Mr. Obama is waging a side battle to raise the debt ceiling to some limitless number far beyond the $16 trillion we have already burned through.
But he had a slightly different position six years ago and more than $7 trillion ago when his predecessor was in office and he was in the U.S. Senate. He voted against raising the debt ceiling limit to a paltry $9 trillion.
The mere fact that there was even a debate to raise the debt ceiling, he said, "is a sign of leadership failure."
It was a sign, he said, "that the U.S. government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government's reckless fiscal policies."
It is hard to imagine the guy has since won two decisive elections for the White House considering how much he used to shill for the wealthy, obviously hated the middle class and wanted to shaft the poor.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at email@example.com.