When Barack Obama’s economic Hail Mary cleared Congress, his e-team posted the legislation on whitehouse.gov with an open invitation to post comments. The bill was 1,071 pages long but responses were limited to 500 characters.
“Absurd,” cried Ellen Miller of the Washington-based Sunlight Foundation, who spoke for many.
A day later the e-team managed to bump the count to 5,000 while removing egg from its eye and chewing gum at the same time, but that was an inauspicious beginning for the geekocrats who had been canonized just months earlier for running the most tech savvy presidential campaign in history.
The Big O had hired Macon Phillips to be the White House director of new media, and immediately kinged him to special assistant with direct access to The Man and The Blackberry.
He envisioned whitehouse.gov to be his major communication platform, a digital Cape Canaveral from which he could launch gold nuggets that would rain down on supporters.
But the site, it turns out, doesn’t permit email blasts.
And the Presidential Records Act mandates that all White House written communications be preserved so Web pages on the site must be archived every time they’re modified, which gums up site refreshing.
“This is uncharted territory,” said Phillips, which we take to mean that no one tried to chart the territory before the Big O unpacked his gym bags on January 20.
The first post on that blog announced that that all non-emergency legislation will be posted there for 5 days, giving the public a chance to review and comment before the president signed off.
That promise lasted until Congress passed the SCHIP extension and the Big O signed it 3 nanoseconds later.