Those who believed that the Obama Administration represented the end of the supposedly Imperial Bushian Presidency have another think coming:
President Barack Obama is morphing into George W. Bush, as administration attorneys repeatedly adopt the executive-authority and national-security rationales that their Republican predecessors preferred.
In courtroom battles and freedom-of-information fights from Washington, D.C., to California, Obama’s legal arguments repeatedly mirror Bush’s: White House turf is to be protected, secrets must be retained, and dire warnings are wielded as weapons.
“It’s putting up a veritable wall around the White House, and it’s so at odds with Obama’s campaign commitment to more open government,” said Anne Weismann, chief counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a legal watchdog group.
Certainly, some differences exist.
The Obama administration, for instance, has released documents on global warming from the Council on Environmental Quality that the Bush administration sought to suppress. Some questions, such as access to White House visitor logs, remain a work in progress.
On policies that are at the heart of presidential power and prerogatives, however, this administration’s legal arguments have blended into the other. The persistence can reflect everything from institutional momentum and a quest for continuity to the clout of career employees.
“There is no question that there are (durable) cultures and mindsets in agencies,” Weismann acknowledged.
Mindsets in agencies may remain the same, but the President has done precious little to change those mindsets. HopeAndChange? No, not really.
As a senator, Barack Obama denounced the Bush administration for holding “secret energy meetings” with oil executives at the White House. But last week public-interest groups were dismayed when his own administration rejected a Freedom of Information Act request for Secret Service logs showing the identities of coal executives who had visited the White House to discuss Obama’s “clean coal” policies. One reason: the disclosure of such records might impinge on privileged “presidential communications.” The refusal, approved by White House counsel Greg Craig’s office, is the latest in a series of cases in which Obama officials have opted against public disclosure. Since Obama pledged on his first day in office to usher in a “new era” of openness, “nothing has changed,” says David -Sobel, a lawyer who litigates FOIA cases. “For a president who said he was going to bring unprecedented transparency to government, you would certainly expect more than the recycling of old Bush secrecy policies.”
Is Dick Cheney still working for the United States government, I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer is “yes.” As expected, one hears next-to-nothing from Obamaphiles regarding this issue. They are too busy celebrating their political golden calf to notice the many hypocrisies that are part and parcel of his Administration. Suddenly, the Imperial Presidency has become fashionable for them again.