Perhaps the most insulting thing about President Barack Obama's decision to commute almost all of Army Pvt. Bradley Manning's remaining sentence is the blatantly transparent fact that he did it for no obvious reason other than Manning's status as a member of the oppressed class du jour for the American left: trans people.
Amazingly, the administration shot its own party in the foot in order to do so, pardoning a traitor who gave WikiLeaks' Julian Assange information much more critical to the nation's security than the contents of John Podesta's email inbox. All this during the middle of the Democratic Party's sudden collective on-camera freak out about the (probably true) allegation that the Russian government attempted to interfere in the United States election by giving some much less sensitive information to the exact same outlet: WikiLeaks.
Obama's disparate treatment of Manning vis-à-vis the Russian government is jarring and indefensible. Not three weeks ago, President Obama sternly denounced Russia in stentorian tones as he announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the country and additional sanctions against the Russian government. Let us recall what the Russian government is (credibly) accused of doing: sending a phishing email to a private citizen that he stupidly opened, then uploading the emails to which they suddenly had access to Assange.
Compare this to what Manning was convicted of doing: using a security clearance (stupidly) granted to him due to his position in the United States military to access top-secret classified information, which he downloaded, surreptitiously copied to a CD-RW disc, and smuggled out of the secure facility where he worked, whereupon he uploaded them to Assange.
There is no conceivable argument that Manning's crimes were not worse than those of the Russian government. If Manning and the Russian government were criminal defendants, every single sentencing factor we use in this country would demand the conclusion that Manning should be punished more harshly. Whether it be in terms of the sensitivity of the information that was leaked, the manner in which it was obtained, the damage that was done to the United States by its release, or the fact that Russia is more or less expected to attempt to spy on us whereas Manning violated a position of trust against his own country, the conclusion is clear: Manning's crimes were worse. Much worse.
And yet, almost all of the remaining years and decades of Manning's sentence were dismissed with the wave of Obama's hand today, even as his party's leading lights trip over themselves to display ever more increasing levels of OUTRAGE over what was done to John Podesta's inbox.
The one and only reason Obama let Manning go while he and his party are escalating anti-Russia rhetoric over crimes that were much less serious is that Manning claims to be a woman in spite of what biology might say about the matter. The American left has decided that people who are afflicted with this delusion are basically beyond criticism at present and should be encouraged to attempt to make the delusion become reality, rather than encouraged to attempt medication to make the delusion go away.
The maddening thing about the whole situation is that it shows what dire straits we are in as a country when it comes to placing national security over party loyalty. It's no surprise at all to see Democrats treat national security casually; indifference to national security is more or less a part of the Democratic Party platform these days. No one who has watched the political scene for longer than about 30 minutes can have believed that the hyper-hawkishness currently on display from the Democrats is anything other than sour grapes over losing the election. When Obama pardons two enemies of America (including Oscar Lopez Rivera) in the same day, you accept that as part of the toll America pays every time it decides to elect a Democrat as president.
What's distressing is that the recent love-fest between elected Republicans and Julian Assange has created the distinct impression that the adults on national security have left the room. And what Obama's decision to commute Manning's sentence shows is that if you had any illusions that the Democrats could be trusted to take the wheel even for a second, you should disabuse yourself of them sooner, rather than later.
I am a live and let live person when it comes to trans people. I assume I will get hate mail for refusing to refer to Manning as "she" in this article — because Manning has done literally nothing to make himself into a "she" other than declare that he is one. But I don't want to see anyone — including trans people — get persecuted or discriminated against either in employment or access to government services. I assume that I probably have used the same restroom as a trans person in my life and the prospect does not really bother me (although I think most of the trans bathroom laws are a HORRID idea because they don't allow store employees to prohibit obvious sexual predators from entering the wrong bathroom for fear of lawsuit).
All that having been said, I definitely do not think that being trans should mean that you should not face the consequences for willfully betraying your country and placing its national security at risk. But the modern Democratic Party — which is still very much led by Obama — is so completely alienated from the current mood of America that they have barely batted an eye at the prospect. And that's bad news for the country as a whole.
Update: The original version of this story incorrectly referred to Manning as a "private first class." As part of his sentence, Manning's rank was automatically demoted from private first class to private.