Keeping The BlackBerry

By Patrick Appel

Podesta makes the case for Obama's BlackBerry:

An off-line Obama isn't just bad for Barack. It's bad for all of us.

The president's ability to reach outside his inner circle gives him access to fresh ideas and constructive critics; it underscores the difference between political "victories" and actual solutions; and it brings the American people into a battle we can only win by working together.

Ezra Klein adds:

Podesta's op-ed suffers because it's not clear on the culprit. There's not some nefarious and shadowy "them" trying to grasp Obama's Blackberry. Rather, there's a nefarious and shadowy "it." More specifically, the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which was written 24 years before the Blackberry was brought to market. If Obama is to keep his Blackberry, Congress needs to reconsider the act. The speed and agility of the White House is too important to be hamstrung by a post-Watergate law that never considered the importance of cell phones, text messaging, IMs, or even e-mail.

I wonder if Ezra would be making this same argument if a tech savvy Republican was sworn in yesterday. The 1978 records act serves a purpose  – to check the executive branch's power – and I, for one, was happy to have it in place during the Bush years, especially during the White House e-mail controversy. Laws should adapt to new technologies, but how does one amend this act without defeating its purpose?