The Change.gov question tool: web two-point-boring

December 16, 2008

President-Elect Obama’s team at Change.gov has posted their first batch of replies to a few of the most popular inquiries submitted via the bally-hooed question tool since it went live last week.obamalogo

If you really want to read the responses, go ahead, knock yourself out. They’re just like the comment threads at DailyKos/LGF/Wonkette/BoingBoing/Lifehacker except they’re completely dry, soul-less, and snark-free.

Take this stirring exchange, for example:

Q: “What will you do to establish transparency and safeguards against waste with the rest of the Wall Street bailout money?” Diane, New Jersey

A: President-elect Barack Obama does not believe an economic crisis is an excuse for wasteful and unnecessary spending. As our economic teams works with congressional leadership to put together a plan, we will put in place reforms to ensure that your money in invested well. We will also bring Americans back into government by amending executive orders to ensure that communications about regulatory policymaking between persons outside government and all White House staff are disclosed to the public. In addition all appointees who lead the executive branch departments and rulemaking agencies will be required to conduct the significant business of the agency in public so that every citizen can see in person or watch on the Internet these debates.

Can you even remember the question after all that opacity? Turns out the White House press corps might not be out of a job after all.

Be honest, though, who’s actually surprised that the Obama team is sticking to their script and refusing to engage in precisely the sort of off-the-cuff banter that makes conversations on the Internet interesting? I was at an event with a few members of their new media team last week and these folks are at least as disciplined as a Bill Belichik offense.

For all the hoopla about the many wonderful ways in which Change.gov might transform the relationship between the POTUS and the rest of us, it’s going to take more than a few Rick-rolls before somebody mistakes this site for 4chan. (Dear Mr. President Elect, I video taped myself asking you a very important question: please watch it here!)

That said, the first idiot who celebrates the fact that someone in the transition team took the time to answer the question about legalizing pot ought to have their head examined. It may be Democracy in motion, but only in the sense in which Jeffersonian “mob rule” sense. I’m not one to romanticize the high-flown days of the republic of media gatekeeping, but this is just campaigning by other means and a waste of everybody’s time.

It may not matter, though, because unless the Change.gov team loosens up a bit (and opens the door to the risk of a mini scandal or two), I suspect people will quickly forget about this site after the inauguration.

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