(Background: the Speaker of the House is holding a press conference on the Democrats’ health care rationing bill, and shutting out the public. This video shows security confirming that the restrictions comes from the Speaker’s office.)
The utter arrogance of the Democratic party leadership is only matched by their utter ignorance of the realities of modern communication technology.
You know, new broom sweeping clean, cleaning out the Augean stables, generally showing those people in Washington who was who and what was what – and how there was going to be a new boss, with new rules and expectations on behavior. Well, meet the new boss:
During his first nine months in office, President Obama has quietly rewarded scores of top Democratic donors with VIP access to the White House, private briefings with administration advisers and invitations to important speeches and town-hall meetings.
High-dollar fundraisers have been promised access to senior White House officials in exchange for pledges to donate $30,400 personally or to bundle $300,000 in contributions ahead of the 2010 midterm elections, according to internal Democratic National Committee documents obtained by The Washington Times.
H/T: The Conservatives. Note that none of this is actually illegal; it’s just… business. This is how things are done in Washington. People willing to give money to politicians will be generally treated better by those politicians than people who are not, all other things being equal. This may disappoint supporters of the President, who (rightfully) may be feeling that they were at least misled about this administration’s intentions, but that’s not exactly the fault of everybody else. Of course, one way of controlling the underlying problem is by encouraging negative feedback mechanisms; for example, transparency…
Since taking office, Mr. Obama has pledged that his administration will be “the most open and transparent administration in history” and has agreed to make public the names of those who sign into White House visitor logs, though a request from The Times for logs that show visits from his top 45 bundlers has so far gone unfilled.
Requests for guest lists to various White House events, such as a recent cocktail reception surrounding the celebration of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ National Hockey League Stanley Cup victory or the Latin music concert last week, have also been denied repeatedly.
…to wit, providing fully justified grief to people who really deserve it. In this particular case he’s making the clock run out on a bill that had some disclosure provisions stripped from it; as has been noted before, there are many ways that an individual Senator can shut things down in the Senate, and Coburn is happy to explore them in the cause of transparency. The Democrats are of course mad at Coburn for it, because they can’t be mad at the President for making transparency such an important part of his campaign (if not his actual administration), and they can’t be mad at themselves for dumping out the provisions in the first place.
And why did they do it? The answer is classic Dizzy City:
The top House negotiator, Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., didn’t recall why his side insisted that the Senate drop the transparency provision. But a Democratic aide said later that there is concern that making every report public automatically might cause agencies to be less candid in their dealing with the Appropriations Committee. The aide required anonymity to speak candidly.
I swear, there’s something in the drinking water here.
Barack Obama’s administration may be promising the “greatest ethical standard ever administered to an executive branch,” and increased transparency over his predecessor, but it seems to be forgoing at least one transparency practice that was routine in the Bush White House— transcripts of the daily press briefing.
It’s been four days since Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ first (and widely panned) appearance before the White House press corps, but no transcript, summary, or video of the event has shown up on WhiteHouse.gov. The delay could be forgiven in a less tech-savvy bunch, but given the Obama team’s considerable online skill, the omission of the the transcript is clearly intentional.
The decision to withhold transcripts is not a departure from the Obama Team’s online posture during the campaign, and signals that’s exactly the posture they intend to take for the next four years. Team Obama got a lot of credit for being an active online presence, which indeed it was, but that presence was built for message control, not openness. (My.BarackObama, the campaign’s social networking platform, is a different story, but it was cordoned off from the official campaign material, which was pretty tightly controlled.)