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May 26, 2010
By Ron Bonjean, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Just like the BP camera has allowed us to watch millions of gallons of oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico after the collapse of the “Deep Horizon” oil rig, President Obama should install an Oval Office camera or “Oval Cam” in the White House after the botched handling of Rep. Joe Sestak’s job offer. [See who contributes to Sestak.]
The American people are starving for transparency. Time and again, they have been lied to or misled by government and private institutions. Politicians who offer it willingly are praised while those that reject it or begrudgingly accept it are scorned. Transparency demonstrates that leaders and companies are on the level. It means as President Ronald Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.” BP quickly learned that once the camera broadcast the oil leak to millions of people in real time, the company can’t turn it off without sparking conspiratorial outrage.
President Obama is now suffering the consequences of breaking his transparency promises. In a memorandum to heads of executive agencies on WhiteHouse.gov, he said, “We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”
But his administration’s actions speak louder than his memos or campaign promises. It refused to allow cameras into daily negotiations on the healthcare bill. Instead, White House officials used a televised staged summit as a mea culpa to the public. The recently held nuclear summit closed to the press corps also comes to mind.