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April 28th, 2011 9:52 am
No Transcripts, No Transparency

All along, the issue of Barack Obama’s birth certificate has been an embarrassing sideshow. All along, it has been clear he was born in Hawaii (not one but two newspaper announcements at the time attested to that), and all along, it hasn’t mattered anyway, because as the son of an American mother, Obama is a “natural born citizen” regardless.

But as I have long argued, the delay in releasing the birth certificate is indeed a symptom of a more important disease in the Obama administration, namely its terrible lack of transparency. Just eight months into his term, I complained about it:

The candidate whose most identifiable promise was to provide open and transparent government instead is leading an administration rife with secrecy, stonewalling and prevarication.The administration repeatedly has stiff-armed Congress, the media, outside organizations and even a prestigious independent government commission. It has raised “none of your business” from an adolescent rejoinder to a public policy – to keep the public in the dark.

Two months before I wrote that, Andrew McCarthy at National Review explained that the question isn’t where Obama was born, but how he lived his life as an adult:

The fact is that Obama’s account of his background is increasingly revealed as a fabrication, not his life as lived; his utterances reflect the expediencies of the moment, not the truth. What is supposed to save the country from fraudulence of this sort is the media. Here, though, the establishment press is deep in Obama’s tank — so much so that they can’t even accurately report his flub of a ceremonial opening pitch lest he come off as something less than Sandy Koufax. Astonishingly, reporters see their job not as reporting Obama news but as debunking Obama news, or flat-out suppressing it. How many Americans know, for example, that as a sitting U.S. senator in 2006, Obama interfered in a Kenyan election, publicly ripping the incumbent government (a U.S. ally) for corruption while he was its guest and barnstorming with his preferred candidate: a Marxist now known to have made a secret agreement with Islamists to convert Kenya to sharia law, and whose supporters, upon losing the election, committed murder and mayhem, displacing thousands of Kenyans and plunging their country into utter chaos?

Chief among the questions is how Obama managed to get from Hawaii to Occidental to Columbia to Harvard, with an odd stop in Chicago in between and again after Harvard. Were strings pulled in his behalf? By whom? That’s why, as I argued yesterday at The American Spectator, the otherwise objectionable Donald Trump is actually right (blind squirrel finds acorn) to pivot and ask about Obama’s college transcripts:

They are questions that ought to be answered. They are not, however, the sorts of questions that should be allowed to run out of control the way the birther questions did. The real reasons to vote against Obama have to do with his extreme leftist ideology, his horrendous record, and his insufferable arrogance that leads him to push the outer bounds (and probably exceed those bounds) of permissible executive authority. That record is enough to discredit him. If the transcripts discredit him further, so much the better. But if they are released and show him to have been a fine student, they should not be allowed to overshadow his other, dangerous deficiencies.

One of those deficiencies — a lesser one, perhaps, but still significant — is his administration’s propensity for stonewalling, which isn’t a private sin but a public one. It undermines our republican (small ‘r’) system. Every respectable study of Obama’s record in this regard has found it lacking. Even liberal sites are complaining. The summation from the Associated Press has the numbers:

Two years into its pledge to improve government transparency, the Obama administration took action on fewer requests for federal records from citizens, journalists, companies and others last year even as significantly more people asked for information.

Amazingly enough, the administration even blocked media requests about its transparency record itself:

The Obama administration censored 194 pages of internal e-mails about its Open Government Directive that the AP requested more than one year ago. The December 2009 directive requires every agency to take immediate, specific steps to open their operations up to the public. But the White House Office of Management and Budget blacked-out entire pages of some e-mails between federal employees discussing how to apply the new openness rules, and it blacked-out one e-mail discussing how to respond to AP’s request for information about the transparency directive.

This is an administration that hides one heck of a lot of information. That’s probably because this is a president with a lot to hide.

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