Ed Driscoll

Obama: "I Wish Information Didn’t Flow So Freely"

As the TechPresident blog noted recently, Obama’s admitting that he’s never used Twitter is a reminder that his campaigned lied when it demonized John McCain for being out of touch with the Internet. (Despite the YouTube and blog-savvy nature of the McCain camp doing much to keep his campaign competitive during the summer of 2008.)

In his NRO column today, Jay Nordlinger adds:

In China, a student asked President Obama, “Should we be able to use Twitter freely?” You and I might have said, “Yes.” President Obama began, “Well, first of all, let me say that I have never used Twitter. My thumbs are too clumsy to type in things on the phone.” He went on, “I should be honest. As president of the United States, there are times where I wish information didn’t flow so freely, because then I wouldn’t have to listen to people criticizing me all the time.” Yet “in the United States, information is free.” And “I have a lot of critics . . . who can say all kinds of things about me.” And “I actually think that that makes our democracy stronger and it makes me a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don’t want to hear.”

You could argue that this is a clever, nuanced answer — not too brash. But isn’t the answer weirdly me-centric, Obama-centric? And doesn’t he argue from pragmatism — “It makes me a better leader”? How about principle: the principle of free speech, freedom of expression?

I really think a simple “yes” might have been better.

One more thing: Obama said, “There are times where I wish information didn’t flow so freely.” Did he mean that, or was that just a matter of rhetoric?

I’m pretty sure he meant it.