Something to chew on: Does government need more closed doors?


Today’s NY Times had this scintillating quote about Obama’s Budget conference call (where somebody from the government talks through the new budget over the phone with a bunch of people.  I know, welcome to the future of technology!): ‘it was “mostly boring”‘.

Government, in fact, can be hugely boring, and often times adds a heaping helping of “complicated” and even sometimes “incompetent“.

HOWEVER, there is a theory that, however boring government is, there is extremely interesting stuff going on all the time, behind closed doors, and away from the prying eyes of the media.  Witness today’s column by (the always excellent) John Dickerson, where he thinks that Obama’s budget is so inadequate that there must be some secret negotiations going on in private with Republican leaders, behind closed doors.

This must be where all the good stuff is!

Times when closed doors might have been good:

-US Planning for WWII invasion.  We did such a good job, we pulled off the largest amphibious assult in history, and eventually beat the Nazis.  Pretty damn good.

-President Obama’s Health Care Bill.  Clinton tried to do it in front of the cameras, and it blew up in his face.  Obama (who during the campaign famously said he’d put all the negotiations on C-SPAN, and then didn’t) did it the opposite way, and got the first substantial health reform passed in a generation.  Also, John Boehner hated it.

Probably even more secrets behind this door…

Times when closed doors were probably bad:

-Vietnam War policy.  “Planning” by the civilian leadership never really happened; a fact that took decades, thousands of American lives, and The Pentagon Papers for the public to figure out.

-Detention of “War on Terror” detainees.  You want to detain random people from Iraq and Afghanistan, secretly shuttle them around the world to secret detention sites, torture them until their minds shatter like glass, and then shelve them in a military base off the coast of Florida?  Can we get a vote on this?

Can you think of other examples, pro or con the closed door of governmental deliberation?  Let us know!