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Just How Much Transparency Should We Expect from President Obama?



It’s not difficult to see just how important social media was to the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. He had a long list of social media touch points, including:

Now the question being asked is; can, and will, Barack Obama continue with his social media efforts, when he assumes the office of President of the United States? Will the transparency continue?

Early signs suggest that our next Commander-in-Chief will remain entrenched in social media. The launch of Change.gov demonstrates his attempt to bring democracy kicking and screaming into the Web 2.0 age. Not only does the site have a blog–and profiles of Obama and Biden–but you can see Obama’s agenda as President, share your vision for America, and even apply for a job at the White House!

Many elected officials abandoned their campaign initiatives the moment the election is over–when did you last see a TV ad thanking you for your vote?–but Obama appears to at least be making an attempt to continue his effort.

The big question is, can the President of the United States be allowed to be so open and transparent? Is it in our best interests for Obama to share his agenda, thoughts, and even travel plans with the world? How would it look?

That’s where I see there being the biggest stumbling block for President-elect Obama and why I believe we will ultimately see his social media efforts become two, one-way monologs. What do I mean by this? Obama will use social media (selectively) to talk to the people and we will, in turn, use social media to send Obama our thoughts and input. But a true, social media conversation? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  • http://Twitter.com/NextInstinct Ed

    More likely:

    “I apologize for what that idiot Bush did.
    We’d like to offer you $1,000,000,000 to restart your domestic nuclear energy program.
    No oversight needed.
    We were infidels, and we’re sorry.
    Sincerely, BO”

  • http://www.realfresh.tv Chi-chi Ekweozor

    I actually think he will manage this OK.

    Here in the UK, the recently launched Number10.gov.uk site has been very successful in keeping the public informed about the day to day work of the guy at number 10 Downing Street as attested to by its very popular Twitter feed:

    http://twitter.com/downingstreet

    It is possible to keep the dialogue going.

    Chi-chi Ekweozor’s last blog post..Real Fresh TV wins Manchester Evening News Blog of the Week award

  • fromnj

    “But a true, social media conversation? I wouldn’t hold my breath.”

    Perhaps it would be useful, since you seem to know what you are talking about, to define what that is, and suggest some ways in which such a “true” conversation can be achieved.

    Btw, I’m glad you are requiring basic arithmetic skills for commenters :-)

  • jas wats

    He will be a transparent as he has been. Not at all. Just because he’s talking, doesn’t mean he’s saying anything.

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    @fromnj – congrats on passing the math test! :-)

    A true social media conversation is just like what we are having now. I post something, you comment, and I engage you on your comment.

    With Obama, I suspect it would be more like: he blogs and we leave comments, but he never responds to our comments–that would be a “conversation.”

    I hope that helps.

  • rtaylor

    I actually agree with Ed.

    I am living in Japan and it worried me when I saw an interview on TV here Wednesday after the election. The interviewee was a Hamas Leader and he said, as nearly direct quote as I can, “We expect real changes in how America deals with others around the world now with Obama. For example, the US to stop demanding Palestine recognize Israel.”

    If that is truly the changes that happen, Allah help us all now!

    Since, Obama has already started to give the silent treatment to the press, I expect we will see much less free flow of info. At least any info with real value. Propaganda about how great a job he’s doing will start to show up by Jan. 10th…

  • jas wats

    rtaylor, the press here is already in the tank for BO. Anything but glowing reports from the press is swiftly punished. Not that most of them would give anything but glowing reports.

  • poop

    BLAH BLAH

  • rtaylor

    Hey, poop (nice name by the way)

    Great eloquence. I love to the witty comments some people make.

  • Ruby

    C’mon, everyone,give the new kid on the block a break. If he has a website I can use to blow off steam or impart some wisdom, I’m happy. Obviously, a president doesn’t have time to answer his e-mails. I’d like to think that some of the thoughts we send his way would find their way into legislation. And then we can all brag and believe it was our e-mail that caused it to happen.We can all be arm chair politicians.

  • Peter Daniels

    We should expect CHANGE, as promised. What will we get?

    We can look at his campaign for indicators. He didn’t hold press conferences and didn’t give the press access to what was going on. He didn’t provide schedules and didn’t keep to the ones he provided. This indicates he will be secretive and decrease the transparency. He looks to follow the same pattern set by Nancy Pelosi who promised the same and then made things worse.

    I’m afraid what will really happen is that come inauguration, the I.Q. in the Oval Office will drop as many points as the ages of the children who live there and we will have secrecy.

  • Cal C.

    “Will the transparency continue?” Sen. Obama’s campaign was the least transparent, most restrictive, tightly-managed in memory. He remains, in matters of consequence, an absolute cipher.

  • Dave in Ma.

    Obama will hold his 1st press conference today at 2:30. Gotta start somewhere…

  • rtaylor

    jas wats,

    Yea, well the press here isn’t much different. But then again, they worship a talking pile of poop here too.

    Anyway, I saw a report about the “screening” Obama did for reporters at his “press conferences”. I will just say, the reporter was escorted from the building for asking a question which you or I would have thought reasonable to ask.

    There was also an article yesterday with the subject of Congress and the Senate turning on Obama the moment he does something they don’t agree with. It reminded me of an old saying:
    “Cannibals eat their enemies; Liberals eat their friends.”

    Unfortunately, it is not limited to Liberals, but these days no one will continue to support anyone, even from the same party, when they find out that person isn’t in 100% agreement with ALL their goals. The environment, gun control, immigration, taxes, economy, same sex marriage, gay rights, copy-right protection, welfare, health care and etc. all have their places in each party, but when Obama rejects someone’s (for example only) environmental protection plan but supports Hillary’s health care plan which that person doesn’t completely agree with, they will turn on him. One by one, they will loose their “irrational exuberance” and his popularity will wan.

    I just read another article, moments ago, where Obama’s staff have already started “leak” info that he is changing his stance on almost every point he campaigned on. They went through 1 by 1, trying to make it look good. For example, he has claimed Iraq a failure and committed to at pull out with in 16 months of taking office but now he is saying he wants to leave thing open; i.e. “no deadline”. He said previously that we have failed and Iraqis don’t want us there but now they are saying the that the Iraqi and surrounding nation’s leaders have asked that the US don’t rush into any pull out because a US pull out would result in instability that would spill across the whole region. They made note, that he is still not giving details about what he “plans” to do about the economy. They said Obama finds ambiguity to be a virtue. Which, for those who can’t read truth through the lines, means he thinks it is good be “vague” or “unclear”… But wait, that is because he doesn’t want you to know that he has NO plan… He criticizes McCain (I didn’t vote for either) for changing his stance but refuses to take one. Based on the info available to McCain and most other Americans the fundamentals of the economy were sound. McCain said so to help avoid irrational panic; the opposite of irrational exuberance. By the time the info was out that there were some problems in the fundamentals, the banks had started to collapse. McCain was man enough to admit he was wrong and took immediate action to help shore-up the banks, which hold money for more than just the rich people. Meanwhile Obama, stood around and just blamed McCain et. el. and said the Haves are at fault and the Havenots must stand-up and vote for me. What is his plan for the economy, anyone know? Did anyone think to ask? We know McCain’s because he took time out from campaigning to go get started on it…

  • Steve

    I mean, how can you expect a person to engage in a media conversation with the millions of individuals who are going to send him messages? And of course a president can’t be transparent about certain issues of national security, but we can and should expect the president to be transparent on most issues that affect the public at large. The burdon of responsibility lies on us to demand honesty from Obama and hold him to his word. It has been impossible to put social pressure on Bush, because his administration didn’t care one bit about public opinion. They will be leaving the White House the least popular presidential administration in the history of the United States. But Obama’s rhetoric of inclusiveness puts him in a position where ignoring organized expressions of public opinion will leave him extremely vulnerable when he runs for re-election. But the key word is organized. You can’t post a comment on Obama’s blog and expect your individual opinion to change the course of his policy decisions.

  • мир

    Barack may be the first President to hold an occasional meeting with a foreign leader via video conferencing. Or maybe a friendly hello during the Holidays sent via email video. Those “little things” that are free could really open up worldwide communication.

  • Kit Brandner

    A blog, or a twitter feed, isn’t really transparency. Most people use online “social media” as an outlet to portray what they can’t or don’t want to in real life, hence the creation of the screen name and online personas. A politician lying about policies on the internet is actually a hell of a lot easier that lying in person.

  • http://www.seoresults.co.za/pages/seo-tips/ SEO Tips South Africa

    It would be silly to neglect such a powerful base after winning office. He surely wants to serve for more than one term?

  • http://www.jordankasteler.com/utah-seo-pro-blog/ Utah SEO Pro

    That tweet is absolutely hilarious. I think it’s great Obama wants to be more a “person of the people”.

    Utah SEO Pro’s last blog post..The Future of SEO

  • Pingback: links for 2008-11-07 - Kevin Bondelli’s Youth Vote Blog()

  • rtaylor

    Not to sound rude, but may I have some of what Kit is taking? Obama is not nearly the first to use video conferencing to hold meetings with foreign and/or domestic participants. He would not be the first to make holiday or birthday calls either. Presidents have called other country’s PMs and etc. for things such as wife took ill, or mother died, etc. In fact, for our allies especially, it is common to have someone who gets fired if you forget or overlook such opportunities. I just wish it wasn’t so much like when I am being nice to my Wife’s mother… All about show and not about substance. But Obama’s own staff, who have been leaking anonymously, have openly said they plan on doing the “show” part right away, just to build up support from foreign rulers. They even said they were Obama was going to postpone his call to Iran until AFTER their June election. Why? Because making nice with Iran now could help that candidate win the election. The incumbent in Iran is a hard-liner and is getting blamed for the economy, does that sound familiar? Anyway, they don’t want to give him a boost that might help him win the election, they hope he looses so will wait to make nice until the new guy is in office… If that isn’t “show over substance” of the Bill Clinton magnitude I don’t know what is… If the incumbent wins in Iran, how open do you think he will be to Obama’s “show” then? Hard-liners are easy to offend…

    Playing Iranian Roulette with foreign policy doesn’t sound too good… Remember the last time Iran was OUR ally, oh that ended with Jimmy Carter (another Dem. with bad foreign policy)… Remember Clinton’s foreign policy, “Oops, I am going to hammered on the news for Perjury, I’ll bomb Iraqi to distract.” And we wonder why the 9/11 attack plans were started… The attack happened on Bushes watch as retaliation for Clinton’s behavior. We allowed Clinton to get away with it and innocent people paid the price…

    I honestly HOPE Obama delivers on his promises, but hope won’t put people back to work, it won’t stop terrorism, racism and other hate crimes, it won’t stop slavery (yes, it still exists all over the world), it won’t feed the hungry billions on this planet, it won’t provide better education for my son or make his safer at school. Hope and glass of water will only keep you alive for 3 days… A glass of water without hope will still keep you alive for 3 days… so what good is hope…
    Remember Herbert Hoover in 1928, “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.”… and the nation sank into the Great Depression in 1929, a year later… Does anyone think that H.H. actually destroyed the economy in 10 months?… But he got the blame…

    He was Republican… People my grandmother’s age would say, republics ruin the economy and democrats start wars…

    Roosevelt (a Democrat) took over in 1932 because people blamed H.H. for the economy… Then he led us into WWII…
    Wilson (a Democrat) elected in 1912 who believed no country has the right to sit in judgment of another country, led the us into WWI…

    The list goes on… but poor foreign policy leads to war… and war is always bad for the economy… so whose really to blame… those that are in office when the trouble starts or those whose foreign policies precipitate the events…?

  • rtaylor

    Taft (R) – 1909 “Our international policy is always to promote peace.” – now can you get any simpler than that? Taft, by the way, fought for lower taxes.

    T. Roosevelt (R) – 1905 “Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected of us. We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither. We have become a great nation, forced by the fact of its greatness into relations with other nations of the earth, and we must behave as beseems a people with such responsibilities.” – Roosevelt, by the way, was highly dedicate to the preservation of natural resources… i.e. the environment… fighting to protection of the forests and animal life…

    McKinley (R) – 1897 “War should never be entered upon until every agency of peace has failed; peace is preferable to war in almost every contingency.” – McKinley, by the way, went to war with Spain to stop their abuse of Cubans AND made Cuba a free nation when Spain lost… Spain also signed away the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam and Hawaii in the process. A man who hated war, went to war to set others free and protect their human rights… People of his day claimed he was a failure as president and they shot him… Today, scholars look back and see the results of his work and how it shaped the world and the US and made the world a better place.

    Cleveland (D) – 1893 “It is a plain dictate of honesty and good government that public expenditures should be limited by public necessity…” – Cleveland, by that way, turned on and attacked the party that got him elected Gov. in New York immediately after the election. He set a record with the use of the Veto but did not propose any bills himself (better to pick apart someone else’s work than to find a solution on your own) and was a racist and sexist. He was an honest man, honest about having a bastard child and married his law partner’s daughter as soon as she finished school. He also threatened to go to war with England over the border dispute with Venezuela (Venezuela and British Gianna). The “actual” cause of his threat though was that the British PM had refused to allow the US to “decide” the matter for both sides… The result was BOTH sides were angry with the US… Now that is foreign policy… Cleveland is still commonly claimed to have had “no vision for the future”.

    Why do we keep making the same mistakes? We claim Bush is bad for being forced into war to stop terrorism and oppression. We claim Bush responsible for the Clinton foreign policy fallout. We claim that a Democrat knows anything about war or that although we all hate war (hopefully we all do) sometimes there are things you must fight for and YES sometimes that means sacrificing our lives for other’s lives. We think that the let other do what they want foreign policy is good. We would rather follow the hope of promises made by a lawyer than the record and experience of fighter pilot, soldier and former POW…
    Carter was a good man and a bad president.
    Cleveland was an honest man at least and a bad president.
    Obama may be a good man but unfortunately only time will tell if he follows the pattern of the other “good” Democrats… Dreamers do not make good foreign policy and like Cleveland, are more likely to turn on those who put them in power…

    Consider yourself warned…

  • rtaylor

    Forgot to mention that Cleveland was also credited with the biggest economic depression to date (at that time)…

    Cheers,

  • http://www.dstudiobali.com/webdesign/busby-seo-test-page/ Busby SEO

    It think it’s great if Obama can made a conversation with people with social media networking. But, if millions of individuals send him messages is that posible for him to answer one by one ?

    Busby SEO’s last blog post..By: Biho

  • rtaylor

    Under Cleveland unemployment climbed to 18% in the US, so I find us complaining about the 6.5% rate released this week … very much like person with a Virgina Ham under one arm complaining that they have no bread… to borrow a line from the Sopranos show…

  • Tony

    I guess time will tell folks. Not like we have a lot of choice in it anymore. Give it some time and keep contacting your representatives. Public presure put him in office it can also keep him on task.

  • http://www.greatpriceshere.com Nicole Price

    He has been saying “Yes we can” I do not see why he cannot.

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Ideas for a Mother-to-be

  • http://www.theworldspeaks.info Megan

    Foreign press, however, though welcoming him, doesn’t expect too much from Barack Obama. They seem well aware that he is only the president and that the real change has to come from us, the people of the US: http://theworldspeaks.info/archives/195

  • http://solinkable.com SoLinkable

    I see even though the election is over, politics are still hot in the news… Too bad people in Canada didn’t care this much about their election :/

    SoLinkable’s last blog post..Blizzard pummels South Dakota, stranding motorists

  • http://www.3arn.net Abdulrehman

    I doubt this sort of transparency being carried on forward. I think it was all for the winning the elections, after all interaction with people and making them understand you is the biggest thing!

    Abdulrehman’s last blog post..Save Bandwidth by Optimizing your Blog’s Pictures

  • http://SOAKSFEMALE.INFO savings

    I think only time will tell, transparency should be open but not open enough where we jeopardize our future presidents life or agenda’s. Some things are meant to be keep secret, if the world was an open book we would never be surprised or live a fulfilling life, just my 2 cents…

  • rtaylor

    Well, we can’t have it both ways…

    How many people out there who saw Die Hard thought the reporter who put the two kids on TV was doing the right thing?

    His attitude accurately reflects that of modern media. “Damn the consequences, the people have the right to know everything about everyone.”

    Crackers have expressed the same sentiment.

    Now the problem becomes the “Responsible use of information.” – Responsibility in reporting had died and been long forgotten. Long ago, reporters who were given information would personally judge whether it was “responsible” to make it public. Now they don’t care they are only interested in “getting the scoop”…

    I honestly don’t think Obama knew nothing about his Favorite Aunt’s immigration status… Since he was a lawyer and her case went before a judge before being rejected I can only believe that he would have followed it VERY closely or even been involved. But you know what, I don’t really care… The reporter who received that story, whether from a honorable source or a neutral source or an anti-Obama source, should have asked whether it was responsible to go public with it. Personally, I am not a supporter of Obama, as mentioned above I didn’t vote for either of them; however, I would have gotten a private meeting with a judge and opened the issue with him. I would have suggested that her status and her safety should now be a concern given her relationship to a presidential candidate. I would have asked the judge to issue, at least a temporary court order granter her proper visa status…

    I do not think going easy on illegal immigrants is the way to go. My wife is Japanese and it cost us a great deal of money and quite some time to get through the proper channels for a visa, those rules and fees are there for a reason. But, though his aunt did not qualify as a refugee previously, she was certainly at risk, or would be, once the public knew her relationship to Obama, president or candidate…

    The reporter cared more about the story than about the safety and security of that woman, Mr. Obama or our country…

    Policy info, honest and full, does NOT put Obama at any risk. It does not put the country at any risk. It does not put his family at any risk. We have a right to expect honest and open discourse on policy and positions on EVERY subject from EVERY president and/or candidate.

    Travel Plans, those that are within the US should be kept public, though less detailed, and those overseas should be kept as vague as possible. PERIOD.

    These expectations should apply to EVERY elected official. If they, A) don’t share openly and/or B) do other than what they shared, we should hold them accountable. We should not be afraid to demand explanations, even if we support the person generally. Blind acceptance is worse for the country that willful participation in the lies.

    The gray area is security and intelligence related. It is important to remember that free flow of that information can put our troops, our citizens and our allies at great risk. It should be carefully guarded but this should not be an excuse to abuse the secrecy… We need someone to say, “I am sorry but we can not give such information out, even to congress.” But they have be ABLE to be trusted so they have EARN that trust first… Then when they say that, we MUST be willing to accept that there are some things which they simply can not, SHOULD NOT, make public.

    Cheers,

  • http://www.netage.co.za Goran Web Design

    I doubt he’ll be quite as transparent, as you implies, it could be a risk to security, but at the same time, I don’t think he can afford to neglect social media now that he has tapped into it.. Could damage his public image.. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens

  • http://www.cats-breeds.com/ cat

    I only hope that Obama will be better than Bush

  • http://www.netage.co.za Goran Web Design

    Quite interesting. I doubt that he will have time to respond to emails or comments on his blog. But he could employ a team to manage his social media tools, by updating them on the latest stuff he’s up to and responding to emails, comments and chats etc.

    This really could work out but the thing is while you think that you’re speaking directly with the President, you’ll be actually speaking to one of his employees. That’s how it’s going to operate. But it will still make people feel intouch and invloved with the president.

  • http://www.ultimateblackhat.com/ Ultimate Blackhat

    Considering that more and more people chose internet over TV now days he better carry on the way he was going.

  • http://www.overalia.com Oscar Del Santo

    We in Europe dearly hope that our politicians get on the coach of the Social Media and take heed of what is going on in this field across the Atlantic.

  • http://www.gadgets4nowt.co.uk PS3

    No ruler or political leader can truly be transparent. We are not ready to hear most of what truly goes on away from our comfort zones.

    We elect them to make the tough decisions for us, let them get on with that quietly.

  • http://patrickmchugh.com/portfolio2/portfolio2.html Patrick McHugh

    A web-cam attached to the new dog’s collar would be an un-staged insight into the daily comings and goings at the white house. The pooch would of course need full secret service clearance. I see it as a reality show on both MTV(the highlights) and the internet(for when they are all asleep).

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    @Patrick – that would be fun!

  • http://www.osyme.net OSYM

    I see even though the election is over, politics are still hot in the news… Too bad people in Canada didn’t care this much about their election :/

    OSYM’s last blog post..Aralıktaki Sınav için Son Gün

  • http://www.anaokulumarketi.com Anaokulu

    Playing Iranian Roulette with foreign policy doesn’t sound too good… Remember the last time Iran was OUR ally, oh that ended with Jimmy Carter (another Dem. with bad foreign policy)… Remember Clinton’s foreign policy, “Oops, I am going to hammered on the news for Perjury, I’ll bomb Iraqi to distract.” And we wonder why the 9/11 attack plans were started… The attack happened on Bushes watch as retaliation for Clinton’s behavior. We allowed Clinton to get away with it and innocent people paid the price…

  • rgtaylor

    Immitation is the noblest form of flattery…

    Anaokulu, thanks for reposting part my previous comments.