Internet Transparency

The Internet encourages and indeed almost compels transparency.  There is a high-level example of that that has played out in the last 48 hours.

A Newsweek article (All the President’s Tweets) reminds us that President Obama pushed hard to plug Americans into the White House.

During the 2008 presidential race, one of the oft-cited feathers in the Obama campaign’s cap was its Internet arm. From his unexpected win at the Iowa caucuses to his unprecedented field operation, the heart of the new president’s machine was  … By the time Election Day rolled around, more than a million people had signed up at, and nearly half of the record-breaking contributions to the campaign were donated in discrete amounts of $200 or less.

It was very natural then that CNN’s Campbell Brown should pose the question, Transparency in Obama administration?  She suggested that:

The President might start by looking at his own Cabinet picks since both Tim Geithner and Tom Daschle were delinquent in back taxes.

I wonder how many Americans would avoid paying a six-figure tax bill until they were up for a new job? For that matter, how many people have owed more than $100,000 dollars without the IRS coming to haul off anything that wasn’t bolted down — like the car and driver Daschle forgot to pay for.

Needless to say that was quickly picked up on Twitter as can be seen in the torrent of searches that were done on TwitScoop for Daschle.

So within hours CNN comes up with the follow-up story, Daschle withdraws as HHS nominee.

Former Sen. Tom Daschle has withdrawn his nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a statement Tuesday from the White House.  He apologized for making mistakes on his tax records.

Daschle recently filed amended tax returns and paid more than $140,000 in back taxes and interest for 2005-2007.   Daschle’s resignation came hours after Nancy Killefer’s withdrawal as Obama’s chief performance officer, a new post in the administration.  Apparently the reason for Killefer’s withdrawal was unspecified tax issues.

Internet transparency goes both ways.  It’s a tough standard but when we all get used to this new visibility, perhaps we will have a much more honest society.

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