The Republican National Committee produced the following video highlighting questions about the relationship between Obama and Governor Blagojevich's latest pay to play scandal:
President-elect Obama’s refusal to answer questions about his team’s involvement in the Blagojevich scandal is inconsistent with his promises of transparency.
On December 5, Obama transition co-chair John Podesta issued a memo outlining a new policy on transparency. In Obamanese the transparency policy is referred to as "seat at the table."
Podesta's memo requires the transition team to post any documents from official meetings with outside organizations, dates of the meetings and the names of organizations involved in the meetings on its seat at the table website. The transparency policy, encourages the transition project staff to include additional materials beyond those required:
This scope is a floor, not a ceiling, and all staff are strongly encouraged to include additional materials. Such materials could include documents (recommendations, press releases, etc.) presented in smaller meetings or materials or made public by the outside organization without a connection to an official meeting.
The media also has questions about Obama's failure to live up to his transparency promises.
Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet said, “it's not just transparency by press release but transparency by deed”:
"The Obama administration just issued a new transparency policy last week. If there were conversations at all with anyone, I think this is what it means to be transparent. If anyone said anything, even in a low level, they need to be able to talk about it and live with the consequences. If this is indeed his transparency, it's not just transparency by press release but transparency by deed." (MSNBC, 12/10/08)
ABC News' Jake Tapper said, "in order to truly be transparent, the American people need to find out as much as possible, as soon as possible":
On its website, President-elect Obama's Transition Team is making a big deal about transparency, posting memos and information about meetings with various, largely supportive organizations.
True transparency means a little more than that, one might posit. It means telling voters about matters that aren't entirely comfortable to share.
If one is just counting as being "transparent" the act of sharing meetings with environmental groups delighted to be counting down the days until Wyoming gets its favorite son back, then the notion might not mean much.
And that would mean that in order to truly be transparent, the American people need to find out as much as possible, as soon as possible, about what role anyone Team Obama played in any of the various shenanigans Gov. Blagojevich is accused of committing -- or any others we don't yet know about.
At the Atlantic, Marc Ambinder warned that Obama's refusal to answer questions about the Blagojevich scandal wouldn't stop the inquiries:
"In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, President-elect Barack Obama draws a line and says he won't answer any more questions about Gov. Rod Blagojevich; in particular -- who on his staff had conversations with Blagojevich. "Ongoing .... investigation."
I suspect that this formulation, with its rich history, will not stop anyone "there," even as it's entirely plausible that Obama's legal counselors have advised him not to say anything else.
It is unfortunate that Obama refuses to live up to the aspirations of the new transparency. As Director of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs Michael Strautmanis said, "transparency is the process that leads to real change and transparency is the process by which people have confidence that things are really going to be different, that they will have that seat at the table."