Critics are slamming President Obama over news that C-Span will not in fact be allowed to cover the final negotiations on the health care bill. (See why Dems are skipping the health care conference here.) Transparency and televised lawmaking were campaign promises for the president, and neither left nor right is particularly happy to see them withdrawn. Yet in the midst of attacks from both sides, a handful of liberals and conservatives have argued that there are serious drawbacks to transparency, suggesting that there might, bizarrely, be more honest law-making if the American people aren't watching.
- We Need Transparency "Hours of debate and information are nice," says Tommy Christopher at Mediaite, "but the real value of transparency is in keeping everyone honest." He's still incensed by the administration's earlier decision to "[meet] with insurance and pharmaceutical industry leaders in private." In doing so, "the administration has shielded the parties most in need of being kept honest, the ones most likely to poison the process."
- Embarrassing "This black-ops mission," write the editors of The Wall Street Journal of the negotiations, "ought to be a particular embarrassment for Mr. Obama, given that he campaigned on transparent government."
- Broken Promise "Lies this shameless," fumes Hot Air's Allahpundit, "especially from the lips of our modern-day Lincoln-Jesus, must be cherished."
- But Would Transparency Actually Help? "The introduction of cameras into the daily White House press briefings, for instance," writes Igor Volsky at liberal Think Progress, "hasn't produced a better understanding of administration policy or more informative media coverage. Rather, it created an additional opportunity for political theater and posturing." Arguing that televising negotiations would turn them into a "theatrical sideshow," Volsky concludes that "the public should have ample opportunity to review the final product before the vote, but when it comes to legislating, transparency is overrated. Changing Washington’s political culture requires far deeper systematic reforms than C-SPAN television. The hard politics isn’t pretty enough for TV."
- Of Course It Wouldn't--Obama's an Idiot From the opposing team, conservative Commentary magazine's John Steele Gordon has a similar, if less Obama-friendly, take:
Who is to blame for giving the Republicans such as wonderful cudgel with which to beat President Obama and the congressional Democrats over the head? Well, it was that political genius Barack Obama. It was a dumb political move on his part to have ever suggested open negotiations, let alone promising them over and over.
Real negotiations — as opposed to questioning witnesses and debating on the floor — are never held in public.
- Mainstream Media, This Is on You Blogger Clifton B at Another Black Conservative says the media long ago "shed their credibility and their integrity and jumped in bed with Obama." Their outcry now is a bit late: "Now that everything is going south, they want to act like they are all about the Fourth Estate again. Sorry, but it is time for the MSM to reap what they have sown. America is getting a crappy health care bill and the media is every bit to blame as the sleazy politicians who wrote it."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.