One aspect of the witch-hunt against Rowan Williams hasn't got the attention it deserves. It shows, as Rick points out, that leaders' effective freedom of speech is seriously curtailed.
Consider just some of the constraints leaders face:
1. The need to maintain the morale of their supporters. Much of the hostility directed at Williams arose from the belief that he should be standing up for Anglicans, not Muslims.
2. The need to smooth over anxieties. As Rick says, a manager who muses, however wisely, about the possibility of selling off part of his business merely imparts fear into his staff and (I'd add) probably increases time wasted in office politics.
3. A fear of avoiding (sometimes wilful) misinterpretation.
4. A need to create an impression of certainty and decisiveness. When leaders talk about "tough decisions" they do so to show how manly they are to take them. They rarely do so in the more proper sense, of drawing attention to tough trade-offs or to undertain pay-offs and the impossibility of gathering sufficient relevant knowledge.
5. A need to identify with the people. A lot of the flak aimed at Dr Williams have been motivated by his apparent academic intellectualism; he's not "one of us."
6. The need to win marginal supporters. This means pandering to their prejudice.
These constraints can be tightly binding - as Dr Williams discovered when he ignored them. As I've said, power doesn't so much corrupt the powerful as enslave them.
What's worrying about this, though, is the destructive impact it has upon public discourse. One effect it has is to force politicians to speak in a code that is only accessible to media Kremlinologists; think, for example, of all those Blairite speeches about public sector "reform".
But the worse effect is to constrict the range of public debate. Because leaders can't speak freely, and can't discuss the full range of policy options available to them, many reasonable policies - basic income, land taxation, whatever - become marginalized.
And we're left not just with an impoverished discourse, but with a vacuous politics.