My latest New Ledger column is up. Good government types may want to take notice:
A favorite charge against George W. Bush was that when he was President, he would not suffer challenges and disputes from governmental watchdogs. The former President, we were assured, was ensconced in a bubble. People didn’t have the chance to talk straight to him, and feared that even if they were able to, they would be punished by the likes of Dick Cheney or Karl Rove. Truth and the law–we were sorrowfully told–gave way to fear and the willingness to say anything that would cultivate the favor of the powers of the Bush Administration.
The election of Barack Obama was supposed to change all of this. At long last, we were supposed to have a President who welcomed challenges and disputatious opinions. During the Bush Administration, we were told that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” With the Obama Administration promising to encourage dissent, the punditocracy rejoiced in the thought that at long last, the patriots were back in power.
But recently, events have conspired to show that the Obama Administration is not nearly as solicitous of dissent and disputation as it advertised itself as being. Far from it; the Administration has taken actions recently that cannot help but impose a chilling effect on those otherwise willing to call shenanigans on a given governmental practice. Instead of welcoming and encouraging dissent and criticism that could lead to the implementation of best practices in the Executive Branch, the Obama Administration has instead made it clear that those who speak out, run the risk of seeing their careers in government ruined.
Pass this along to your favorite good government type.