“I will also hold myself, as President to a new standard of openness,” said Barack H. Obama on CNN on January 21st, 2009. He also said, during that speech that the way to make government responsible is to make it accountable; and the way to make it accountable is to make it transparent. Transparency is what we were promised. Obama went on to say in that speech, “Let me say it as simply as I can; transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this Presidency.”
But that was January 21st, 2009, fast forward to July 2nd, 2009 and how is that transparency fairing? Not very well, I’m afraid. It seems that in town hall meetings to push his obscenely costly health care reform, Obama is meeting more resistance than he anticipated from the American public. So much so, that in a town hall meeting in Annandale, Virginia the White House evidently pre-selected the reporters that they would call on. Of the seven questions the President took, four were pre-selected by his staff via web videos submitted through the White House Web site; and those three audience members he ‘randomly’ chose? They were members of groups with very close ties to Obama’s administration. They belonged to: the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Health Care for America Now, and Organizing for America. The latter actually being a part of the Democratic National Committee.
Is this a new thing, this planting of questions in Presidential public forums? No, Bush 43 did it, as have many other Presidents through the years. What makes it a problem is that Candidate Obama and then President Obama made a huge issue of this. He promised to offer an administration that would be transparent to the public; that it would be, along with the rule of law “the touchstones of his Presidency.”
This is not sitting well with the White House Press Corps. Chip Reid from CBS and Helen Thomas from Hearst New Service both took umbrage with White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs. Both reporters pressed Gibbs on this who tried to blow it off and delay the questions until after the town hall meeting. But Chip Reid and the venerable Thomas would have nothing of that. When Gibbs said, “Let’s have this discussion at the conclusion of the town hall meeting,” Helen Thomas shot back, “No, we’re having it now.” Then when Gibbs said, “We’ve had this discussion ad nauseam.” Helen Thomas retorted, “Of course we have, because you don’t have any answers.” It was interesting to see him squirm. Here is a link to the video, watch it and see what you think.
So much for the touchstones of his Presidency. Obama will say anything to get elected, to garner support for one of his programs, to remain untouchable where public opinion is concerned; but when it comes down to it, President Obama is not interested in transparency or even in keeping his word. That is why his approval ratings are beginning to slip very quickly. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll found that Americans are evenly split on Obama’s handling the deficit, 48% to 48%.
This was found on the White House web site:
“Government should be participatory. Public engagement enhances the Government’s effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions. Knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge. Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their Government with the benefits of their collective expertise and information. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public input on how we can increase and improve opportunities for public participation in Government.”
My, but that seems to contradict the idea of planted questions and pre-selected reporters at Obama’s public forums. It would seem that our President is not interested in being transparent or accountable to the very people that voted him into office. Transparency? I would say that I could see right through President Obama.