So the solution, of course, is to make things a bit more opaque while still pretending to be “transparent”. And how does one do that? By kicking the guy dedicated to that job – the so-called “ethics czar” – upstairs, and shifting those responsiblities elsewhere. Like to someone who is known not to favor transparency at all.
Obama transferred "ethics czar" Norm Eisen to the Czech Republic to serve as U.S. ambassador. Some of Eisen’s duties will be handed to Domestic Policy Council member Steven Croley, but most of them, it appears, will shift over to the already-full docket of White House Counsel Bob Bauer.
Bauer is an insider’s insider. And in his own words and actions, doesn’t at all favor disclosure of public affairs, at least not like President Transparency promised:
Bauer’s own words — gathered by the diligent folks at the Sunlight Foundation — show disdain for openness and far greater belief in the good intentions of those in power than of those trying to check the powerful. In December 2006, when the Federal Election Commission proposed more precise disclosure requirements for parties, Bauer took aim at the practice of muckraking enabled by such disclosure.
On his blog, Bauer derided the notion "that politicians and parties are pictured as forever trying to get away with something," saying this was an idea for which "there is a market, its product cheaply manufactured and cheaply sold." In other words — we keep too close an eye on our leaders.
And there’s more:
In August 2006 Bauer blogged, "disclosure is a mostly unquestioned virtue deserving to be questioned." This is the man the White House has put in charge of making this the most open White House ever.
Most telling might have been Bauer’s statements about proposed regulations of 527 organizations: "If it’s not done with 527 activity as we have seen, it will be done in other ways," he told the Senate rules committee.
"There are other directions, to be sure, that people are actively considering as we speak. Without tipping my hand or those of others who are professionally creative, the money will find an outlet."
So there you go, another political promise from the man who gave us “hope” and “change” quietly changed so that it still conform with the letter of the promise – i.e. there’s still someone in charge of “transparency” – but not its spirit.
If this isn’t a Rahmbo (Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel) move, I don’t know what is. It has his fingerprints all over it.
I know – big surprise.