On Transparency, Obama Fails Big, Succeeds Small
1:00 PM, Jan 14, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
The combination of Obama's blatantly broken pledge to show health-care negotiations on C-SPAN and his approaching one-year anniversary of his inauguration has spurred a round of reflection on just how transparent the administration has been.
One group of transparency advocates (many of them left-leaning) dutifully delivered pretty dubious "A" grade on transparency to the president.
That prompted another transparency organization, The Sunlight Foundation, to declare the "A" premature, giving Obama something more along the lines of an "E" for effort.
Within the wonky, back-and-forth world of transparency activists, you will often find more praise for Obama's transparency than in the general public and conventional wisdom. As activists, they're more familiar with the technical, and sometimes mundane, accomplishments that the intersection of new technology and the Obama campaign have produced, such as the promising Open Government Directive:
But Obama's problem on transparency is that he may succeed in certain ways, but he fails so spectacularly and publicly that he eclipses his successes. See for reference: The C-SPAN promise, the legislation online for five days before signing promise, the creation of the lobbyist ban, which precipitated the creation of the lobbyist waiver, and the very public pitfalls of making a $787 billion dollar, hastily written giveaway transparent after the fact.
And, today, the administration once again fails ostentatiously on transparency once again, with this doozy: Joe Biden meets on transparency; meeting closed to press