Andrew Malcolm of the Los Angeles Times’ Top of the Ticket blog has assigned himself to the Joe Biden beat, and that’s a lonely job. Not too many reporters follow Biden’s daily schedule, and there’s a reason for that, one apparent from today’s announced schedule. What do all of these items have in common?
In the morning, the President and the Vice President will receive the Presidential Daily Briefing and the Economic Daily Briefing in the Oval Office. These briefings are closed press.
At 11:30 AM, the Vice President will meet with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to discuss the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This meeting is closed press.
Afterwards, the President and the Vice President will have lunch in the Private Dining Room. This lunch is closed press.
Most people would understand that for the luncheon and the PDB, but Obama rather famously put Biden as the man in charge of ARRA, which we call Porkulus, by claiming that “no one messes with Joe.” Despite that, no one has seen much of Joe since he declared that the US was in a depression back in October.
Of course, he does have one item today open to the press … well, sort of:
At 1:00 PM, the Vice President will meet with Iraqi Vice President Adil Abd al-Mahdi in the Roosevelt Room. There will be a pool spray at the bottom of this meeting; gather time is 1:45 PM in the Brady Briefing Room.
What the hell is a “pool spray,” you may be asking? Andrew explains:
The “pool spray” mentioned has nothing to do with aquatics. It’s a coded message to media that a few select members will be allowed in to take pictures briefly — possibly for only a few seconds — as Biden and his guest pretend to continue their previously private conversation as if the meeting was open.
It’s a photo op, only just for a few photojournalists, and only as long as they don’t actually attempt to engage Biden in conversation. Well, that’s certainly open and accessible, isn’t it? But for the full Someone Left the Irony On Department treatment, we have to go to the final item on Biden’s schedule (emphases mine):
Then, at 2:15 PM, the Vice President will meet with Earl Devaney, chairman of the Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board. This meeting is closed press.
Not only has the White House put a complete muzzle on Biden — an understandable impulse for anyone who’s responsible for what comes out of his mouth — they’ve now closed their meetings with the man they put in charge of Porkulus transparency. A month ago, the White House held a workshop on transparency, which they also closed to the press. Apparently, the workshop succeeded!
Transparency and accountability — now off limits to the press. That’s either the hallmark of this administration, an admission that Obama botched his VP pick, or a little of both.