Remember when Dick Cheney oversaw the creation and proceedings of an energy task force that met with executives from major oil companies? Remember the furor and anger these secret meetings caused? Remember how the meetings were supposed to be some kind of affront against transparency? Remember when Cheney’s critics said that if they ever got into power, they would open up government and keep big time executives and lobbyists from having privileged access to people in power?
When President Obama announced in June that he planned to bypass congressional gridlock and overhaul the nation’s immigration system on his own, he did so in a most public way: a speech in the White House Rose Garden.
Since then, the process of drafting what will likely be the only significant immigration changes of his presidency — and his most consequential use of executive power — has been conducted almost entirely behind closed doors, where lobbyists and interest groups invited to the White House are making their case out of public view.
Mr. Obama’s increasingly expansive appetite for the use of unilateral action on issues including immigration, tax policy and gay rights has emboldened activists and businesses to flock to the administration with their policy wish lists. It also has opened the president, already facing charges of executive overreach, to criticism that he is presiding over opaque policy-making, with the potential to reward political backers at the expense of other interests, including some on the losing side who are threatening to sue.
Think that Dick Cheney’s critics are caterwauling over the fact that Barack Obama is imitating Dick Cheney? Well, think again.