Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Saturday, October 31, 2009

  Is there a dictionary in the White House?

After relenting last month in the face of a lawsuit by CREW, the Obama administration finally has begun to release the names of visitors to the White House - as promised during the 2008 presidential campaign. In announcing the release of the first batch of names, a White House blog post is entitled:

Transparency like you’ve never seen before


Does the author, special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform Norm Eisen, really understand what “transparency” means? Or are we supposed to be impressed with the administration’s archness? Will we or will we not “see” meaningful transparency, I’m left wondering.

The problem appears to be due less to an attitude of ironic detachment than to a basic gap in language skills, if we can judge by this sophomoric error in the text of Eisen’s post:

The release also compliments [sic] our new lobbying rules, which …


The new Obama administration has sometimes given the impression that it believes it can substitute rhetoric in place of following through on campaign promises. That approach to policy is doomed to failure however if your well rounded phrases really aren’t well turned at all. Clumsy rhetoric raises questions of both competence and sincerity.

Today marks a major milestone in government transparency -- and an important lesson in the unintended consequences of such vigorous disclosure.


I can’t conceive of what “vigorous” disclosure might possibly be. What I’m looking for in government disclosure is something more along the lines of “candid”, “unstinting”, and “full”. Why can’t the Obama White House just leave the tarnished word “vigorous” on the trash heap of the Bush administration? Please.

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