Given a choice between transparency and secrecy, it’s not hard to guess which Hillary Clinton will choose every time. She has a secrecy reflex that is so pronounced it leads her to do things like create a private email server in her own basement. And there are already signs that Clinton is pulling back on some of the halting efforts at transparency observed by President Obama. From the Associated Press:
Clinton has refused to open her fundraisers to journalists, reversing nearly a decade of greater transparency in presidential campaigns and leaving the public guessing at what she’s saying to some of her most powerful supporters.
It’s an approach that differs from the Democratic president she hopes to succeed. Since his 2008 campaign, President Barack Obama has allowed reporters traveling with him into the backyards and homes of wealthy donors to witness his some of his remarks.
While reporters are escorted out of Obama’s events before the start of the juicier Q&A, the president’s approach offers at least a limited measure of accountability that some fear may disappear when Clinton or Republican nominee Donald Trump moves into the White House.
Obama came to office promising the most transparent administration ever. That promise turned out to be a sham. As the Washington Post pointed out in May:
After early promises to be the most transparent administration in history, this has been one of the most secretive. And in certain ways, one of the most elusive. It’s also been one of the most punitive toward whistleblowers and leakers who want to bring light to wrongdoing they have observed from inside powerful institutions…
Call it Transparency Lite. On Monday, during a visit to Vietnam, the president spent some quality time with the media — in the form of Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef. A couple of years ago, he did a heavily publicized interview with the comedian Zach Galifianakis on the faux talk show “Between Two Ferns,” and last year he made a visit to podcaster Marc Maron’s garage for a chat about fatherhood and overcoming fear.
But his on-the-record interviews with hard-news, government reporters have been relatively rare — and, rather than being wide-ranging, often limited to a single subject, such as the economy.
Remarkably, Post news reporters haven’t been able to interview the president since late 2009. Think about that.
Yes, think about that and then think about the fact that Hillary, as a candidate for president, has not given a real press conference since December 2015. As bad as the Obama administration has been on transparency, we’re likely to look back on this as the good old days of openness if Hillary Clinton wins the White House.