Remember the fall of 2008? Our country was crumbling. Our banks were crumbling. Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain’s political career was crumbling. But a young up-and-coming political star, Barack Obama was rising. He was going to bring the hope and change this country desperately needed. Within a few minutes of taking office in 2008, the White House’s official website declared this administration would be “the most open and transparent in history.” Of course, that was then. This is now. And now means the American people are no longer welcome to visit the White House. Now that’s transparency!
On March 5, the Secret Service suggested, in an attempt to control the budget and not give out furlough days, the canceling of all White House tours. The media went ablaze.
From the Washington Post: “The decision to drop White House tours always had a whiff of what’s known as Washington Monument syndrome. The ham-handed tactic is employed when government is faced with budget cuts and officials go after the services that are most visible and appreciated by the public. It’s a kind of bureaucratic hostage-taking, so the pushback that the Obama administration has encountered is a proper comeuppance.”
When asked by ABC News what can be done, Obama did what he does best — he blamed everyone else:
“I’m always amused when people on the one hand say the sequester doesn’t mean anything and the administration’s exaggerating its effects. And then whatever the specific effects are, they yell and scream and say, ‘Why are you doing that?’ Well, there are consequences to Congress not having come up with a more sensible way to reduce the deficit.”
Now that is “hope” and “change” we can appreciate. Add “transparency” to the list and we can call this the Axis of Political Evolution. Or not.
Watchdog group Cause for Action, a group that rates the transparency of government, is about as impressed as I am. “For an administration that claims to be, ‘the most transparent administration in history,’ a grade of C-, coupled with the finding that nearly three-quarters of the offices were unable to respond to our request within a 30-day window and, therefore, noncompliant with the law, signals that perhaps this administration is merely average at best,” the group said on March 13.
According to Breitbart, the Cause for Action group tested 114 federal offices in 16 different agencies for Freedom of Information Act compliance. Beginning in April 2012, requests were sent out to numerous government agencies and offices. Twenty-nine offices did not respond at all, Breitbart reported, and 26 went past the 90 days that are allowed by law to respond. Breitbart did report that 86 agencies did respond, but sadly, most took longer than the required 75 days, according to Cause for Action.
According to the Washington Times, under the Freedom of Information Act, legally all requests must be responded to within 30 days.
In President Obama’s defense, he has asked if students can still tour the White House. He claims the White House didn’t make the unpopular decision, but he also claims the Secret Service explained why they did it. So which is it Mr. President? Did you or didn’t you know about the decision?
Of course, if none of us can enter the White House, maybe pop stars Adele and Beyoncé can inform the American people about what is going on inside.
Yahoo News reports: “America’s First Lady will be holding a huge celebrity-packed party for her birthday at the White House next year and, as she adores Adele and Beyoncé, she has asked them both to sing. Adele has graciously accepted and waived her usual fee for the high-profile private performance. She will sing a selection of her most-loved hits for the First Lady and her friends.”
After realizing what a PR nightmare this news item turned into, the White House is denying these stories, calling them false. Right. Because it would be so unlike the Obama family to party with the Hollywood elite? I, for one, would love to see celebrities make it into the White House.
At least this way someone will have an idea what in the world goes on in there.