16 June 2009

Barack Obama: Hypocrite

Back when the Bush Administration wouldn't let the news media see the White House visitor logs, Senator Obama was among the multitudes demanding greater transparency from the Executive Branch. As a successful presidential candidate, he was ideally positioned to implement the necessary reforms, yet people still find themselves having to sue to even have a chance of seeing the logs. The Obama Administration has explicitly asserted the President's right to hold secret meetings in the White House, offering such examples as someone interviewing for an administrative position or foreign diplomats discussing sensitive international issues. This looks like another case where Republicans and neocons will credit Obama with wising up to the requirements of power while chiding liberals and others who still don't get it. What many of us "don't get" is the notion that, in a democratic republic, our elected leaders are apparently accountable to us only on Election Day, and that between elections they have some sort of exemption from public scrutiny of their meetings and discussions. To some observers, I suppose, this is only a matter of common sense. They believe that each election is a complete delegation of sovereignty by citizens to officeholders, so that citizens don't need to know who the President sees and what he discusses with them until it all comes up for review, in vaguest terms, at the next election. That view doesn't prevail everywhere. Those states that have recall provisions for elected officials, for instance, take a different approach. The idea that elected officials are accountable to the people at all times ought to be adopted nationwide. If that makes life more difficult for leaders, that's only as it should be, and I'd expect "left" and "right" alike to agree with me on that.

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