The Spectacle Blog

As Transparent as a Block of Lead

By on 1.5.10 | 10:25AM

Earlier this morning, David Plouffe sent out an email to supporters of Organizing for America, Obama's campaign arm that is now part of the DNC, previewing 2010. Here's an excerpt from the email (pay particular attention to the part I put in bold):

2010 will be a year of new, exciting challenges. We'll be working hard with President Obama to finish the fight for health insurance reform, put more Americans back to work, and get our economy running strong. We'll fight to protect consumers and our economy from Wall Street abuses, improve transparency in Washington to elevate the voices of the American people, and create a vibrant, clean energy economy. And we'll stand up for the President's allies at the ballot box.

If improving transparency is a major goal for 2010, then the year is already off to a rocky start. Yesterday, I noted reports that House and Senate Democrats planned to skip a conference to merge their health care bills, and instead negotiate behind closed doors, in clear violation of Obama's campaign pledge to have all negotiations broadcast on C-SPAN. Now even the press pool is taking Democrats to task -- see this roundup from Mary Katherine Ham. Most notably, C-SPAN's Brian Lamb has sent a letter (PDF) to leaders in the House and Senate in which he writes:

President Obama, Senate and House leaders, many of your rank-and-file members, and the nation's editorial pages have all talked about the value of transparent discussions on reforming the nation's health care system. Now that the process moves to the crucial stage of reconciliation betweem the Chambers, we respectfully request that you allow the public full access, through television, to legislation that will affect the lives of every single American.

Not only does Democrats' secrecy make Americans more suspicious about what's in the health care bills and more inclined to believe critics, but it gets to the heart of why Americans are so cynical about the way business is done in Washington. And it's that very cynicism that helped Obama transcend ideology in 2008 and sweep into power on a promise of change.

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