Transparency in government was a hallmark achievement of American progressives. Renowned liberal jurist Louis Brandeis wrote, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” The man who appointed Brandeis to the Supreme Court, Woodrow Wilson, waxed poetically about the ideal. However, the bloom is plainly off that rose, despite liberals continued invoking of transparency as a campaign theme.
Now, public servants require heightened privacy as to the details of their work. But woe be to the private citizen or corporation who chooses to participate in the political debate.
Providing financial support to pro-free market public policy groups — those whom the Wall Street Journals Kim Strassel calls Obamas Enemies List— apparently risks having ones personal affairs laid bare for scrutiny. This, liberals assure us, is not for purposes of intimidating those who participate and chilling others from making a similar error in judgment. It is about the public’s right to know.
Does the public have a right to know that those who participate more meaningfully, say, by actually voting, are you who they say they are? This seems to be an entry-level transparency requirement for political participation. Alas no, requiring identification is an invasion of privacy of the highest order clearly meant to discourage voters from exercising a right so fundamental that we can’t dare do anything to protect the integrity of its practice.
Meanwhile, a liberal administration leaks sensitive information, while conducting the most aggressive prosecution campaign against whistle-blowers in our nations history. And that’s according to other liberals, shocked that Team Obama weren’t quite who they said they were.
The Obama administration’s standoffs with Congress have led to historic litigation, but its deliberate, organized efforts to deny access to records go much deeper. Today, the self-congratulation in 2009 (anticipatory a la Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize that same year) as the most transparent administration ever has the odor of misdirection about it, hinting in retrospection at a clampdown on releasing actual public information to those who seek it.