There is no better example of this rule than the New York Times Page 1-A story about John Edwards this morning.
The same paper that was oh, so reluctant to question the motives of the gang of crooks and liars that have been desecrating the White House and Congress for far too many years now is going after John Edwards for being smart enough to keep himself politically viable.
As anyone who's ever paid a lick of attention knows, John Edwards cares about poverty. He grew up poor, and you do tend to think about it, even when it doesn't apply anymore.
So when he and Kerry lost the presidential election, he had to figure out what he was going to do next - and how. He decided to turn himself into an anti-poverty brand. He formed a 501(c)4, and began traveling around the world, talking about poverty.
Nothing he did was illegal. (If there's one thing John Edwards has never been accused of, even by the New York Times, it's being a bad lawyer.) It's important to make that distinction with the Times, since they have such a very long track record of implying things about Democrats by nature of the resources they devote to a story. After all, you have to justify all that time and money somehow!
And what a story it is.
Did you know the nefarious John Edwards also hired on members of his old campaign staff to work at his organization? Oh, the horror! Here's a hint, New York Times - campaign workers are, you know, campaign workers. Whether it's a political campaign or an issue campaign, it's pretty much the same. How very Machiavellian of Edwards to hire people he already knew, people with whose skills he was already familiar.
And did you know you can give much larger chunks of money anonymously to a 501(c)4? Why, yes, I did. I know this because of the many, many right-wing groups that prop up the conservative machine - groups whose activities never seem to interest the New York Times newspaper until there's an indictment, and then they have to write about it.
I don't have the time or the energy to dig out the numerous and egregious examples (although Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff come rather quickly to mind) of Republicans who used non-profits for blatantly political purposes. This isn't one of them.
And if the New York Times hates John Edwards, why, that's a good enough reason for any thinking person to support him.
[Note to commenters: It is most certainly permissible for a 501(c)4 to engage in political activity - that's why the donations aren't tax deductible.]