Barack Obama promised a new era of government transparency. He even pledged a fully transparent congressional debate on health care reform, telling us repeatedly that the negotiations would be televised on C-Span.
Now in power, he’s forgotten that tune. But of course, that’s not up to him. It’s up to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Last week, she laughed at such transparency.
But Clint Hendler of the Columbia Journalism Review has graded the president for what he — not Pelosi or Reid — can deliver on transparency. Regarding state secrets, Hendler gives Obama a “D.” With Freedom of Information Act requests the administration has done better: Mark it a “B.”
I’ve talked before about problems with the recovery.gov website. But what about data.gov? By the end of the month there should be some meat on that site’s database bones, but a lot more work will remain. Call it a “D-plus.”
Hendler gives an “F” to the White House’s routine — and utterly opaque — practice of concocting off-the-record background briefings. An “A-minus,” though, goes for White House visitor records . . . despite a refusal to issue lists of visitors in the administration’s first seven months. Further, the White House reserves its right to hold back this info at any time.
The president’s grades sure aren’t that of an overachiever. Maybe he needs a tutor.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.