Where’s the transparency Obama promised?

David Bossie President, Citizens United
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When folks are asked about the central tenets of President Obama’s 2008 campaign, phrases such as “unprecedented transparency,” “post-partisan,” and “hope and change” regularly come up.

Mr. Obama promised big things and raised the stakes plenty when he spoke of ushering in a new kind of politics based on the ideas of greater government cooperation and harmony. Obama’s thesis was that when all three branches of government focus on positive results for the American people instead of petty politics, good things tend to happen.

Nearly 750 days into the Obama administration, the reality is setting in that “politics as usual” reigns at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. If you’ll recall, it actually started on day one with the irresponsible executive order to close Gitmo. President Obama also had a real chance to forge a bipartisan stimulus package, but chose not to. At last year’s State of the Union address, President Obama falsely attacked the Supreme Court — a co-equal branch of government — for Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission simply to pacify his liberal base of supporters. Then, as the health care saga wore on, and his plan became less and less popular, the president could have stopped and recalculated. He instead chose to ram the bill through using old-fashioned raw numbers politics. Now America is stuck with such an awful law that everyone is asking for a waiver to get out from under it.

Unfortunately, the list goes on and on. For someone who promised to dramatically shake things up in Washington and work across party lines, President Obama has sure spent a lot of time shutting Republicans out and catering to liberal special interests. Is there anything Obama won’t do for the unions? Is there anything Obama won’t do for the environmentalists? Is there anything Obama won’t do for Hollywood? The answer, sadly, is no.

Just this week we saw two more examples of the president’s failure in the areas of cooperation and openness. Egypt is currently in a state of chaos. Americans are wondering what their leaders are going to do about the dire situation in this critically important country. Instead of being frank with the American people and answering questions about Egypt, Politico reported that today:

President Obama and Canada’s prime minister will call on just two reporters at their “joint press availability”…reporters have complained that Obama has evaded them all week so he doesn’t have to talk about his handling of Egypt’s political crisis. On Wednesday, press secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed their concerns by saying, “I think you’ll get a chance likely to talk to the president later in the week when Prime Minister Harper is here.” But White House spokesman Tommy Vietor says Obama and Stephen Harper plan to call on just one reporter each. (emphasis added)

What happened to transparency? What happened to changing the way Washington politicians do business?

Americans are also wondering how President Obama will handle relations with the new Republican majority in the House, Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa in particular. This week the public got a big hint. Chairman Issa sent his first document requests to Secretary Janet Napolitano at the Department of Homeland Security, and she has already missed two deadlines. The requests are for documents relating to the Department’s Freedom of Information Act procedures — not exactly inflammatory information! If this is any indication, President Obama and company are poised to revert back to Clinton-era partisan stalling tactics and non-cooperation. Stonewalling Congress simply enhances the perception that the administration is hiding something. Imagine what will happen when Issa requests, or demands through a subpoena, more politically damaging information? Don’t hold your breath for a candid response from the Obama administration.

It looks like President Obama is happy to give grand speeches pledging greater openness and cooperation as long as it gets him elected. However, when it comes to following through on his campaign promises, Mr. Obama suddenly has very little to say.

David N. Bossie is the president of Citizens United and Citizens United Productions, and the executive producer of “America at Risk.”