A few weeks ago, I noted that Barack Obama had apparently taken his goo-goo tendencies to new extremes by promising that "[w]hen government officials meet with corporate lobbyists, you should be able to watch the meeting" in an email to supporters (PDF).
At the time, I questioned whether the line was vetted policy, but today's New York Times includes an article on candidate visits to Google that confirms Obama's proposal:
With his Google visit, however, Senator Obama succeeded in drawing attention to his plans for using technology to make government more accessible and transparent with, for example, live Internet feeds of all executive branch department and agency meetings.
While the plan sounds high-tech and provides an effective political contrast to Hillary Clinton's closed-door health care process in 1993-1994, it makes no sense from a management perspective. Most government meetings are already a waste of time, but making them public would completely destroy any hope of real business being done. Has anyone seen footage of the ridiculous Cabinet meetings that take place in front of the cameras? They're bad political theater where nothing of substance is accomplished. Why would we want every department and agency meeting to be stripped of the possibility for candor or frank discussion? The proposal is disastrous and should be seen as an ugly reminder of Obama's lack of executive and management experience.
Update 12/3/07 12:52 PM: Mickey Kaus piles on:
Brendan Nyhan on the Carteresque silliness of Obama's idea of providing (in the NYT's description) "live Internet feeds of all executive branch department and agency meetings." ... For a good example of how idealistic "open meeting" laws can gum up government by forcing officials to endure hours of for-show public meetings with grandstanding interest groups before actually getting down to business, read Lynn and Whitman's terrific account of Carter's welfare-reform failure. ... P.S.: How about live internet feeds of all Obama staff meetings? The voters of Iowa deserve no less! ...