The last week presented an odd pattern of behavior for “the most transparent administration, ever”, a facially absurd claim by an administration which in fact spends an awful lot of time and energy hiding the ball.
There was emergence of the coverup about Benghazi, and a State Department website revision making the past more helpful to the current spin. Then familiar and, for the specifics of the familiarity, credible rumors of and about-to-break donor scandal involving disclosure – in a campaign run by Jim Messina? No way (keep reading). The facts of which are now out, as well.
Then the administration was outed for actually offering to pay the legal bills of defense contractors sued for breaking a law which requires them to inform workers of looming layoffs. At least until after the election, apparently it isn’t important to pay too much attention to one of the left’s heretofore claimed right-to-know laws.
This was followed by Friday’s facially self-discrediting jobs report, apparently assisted with changes to the methodology for preparing the (once again, anemic) employment numbers touted as a dramatic improvement while three people abandoned the workforce for every job created. In response the president gave a speech warning off scrutiny of these apparent games with the employment numbers; those who do are “talk[ing] down the economy”. Got that, media? Gov. Romney?
Transparency is cool. Unless abused by, say, pointing out uncomfortable details the Bureau of Labor Statistics seemingly wants to hide. (At least for now we are still able to learn if BLS economists donate to President Obama).
The truth, which I detail in a newly released book, The Liberal War on Transparency: Confessions of a Freedom of Information “Criminal”, is that this crowd actually just aren’t that into transparency. They never have been.
Information is no longer about good governance, as liberals initially imagined open access to public information: allowing citizen checks and balances, to curb abuses of governmental authority and taxpayer dollars. Now, liberals are in charge of the institutions they feared would be abused, so there’s no real need for transparency laws anymore.
Information is seen less as a public good than as a weapon, which if obtained would only be used to embarrass or intimidate. And so the information that is released needs to be someone’ else’s.
Ask those Obama allies living the idea that when private citizens support speech they don’t like, well, everything about them must become public. Indeed, it was at about this point in Barack Obama’s first two campaigns that his opponents found sealed court records leaking from courthouses across Chicago.
Don’t believe me? Give it a few days. Watch how Mitt Romney’s tax returns, and “donors to shadowy groups” roar back to the forefront as campaign issues in the remaining debates. (I advise Mr. Obama to wait until after the foreign policy debate, given that whole Libyan unpleasantness).