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The Mechanics
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Democrats Fri Jan 23 2009

Hail to the Technocrat-In-Chief!

Wow. That was quick.

In fewer than 3 days on the job (or 2 if you were one of those who was getting ready to sue because of the flubbed oath on Tuesday) President Obama has moved decisively to expand government transparency at the federal level.

Color me impressed.

On his second day in office, President Obama reopened WhiteHouse.gov to search engines. Just yesterday he issued a memo on FOIA requests, and made a forceful statement on the end of the unlawful detentions at Guantánamo Bay.

He's also made solid moves on ethics for White House staffers.

Now, Ramsin may not agree with this assessment, but the highest honor I can bestow upon the president today is that of Technocrat-in-Chief.

Since his time in the U.S. Senate when he co-sponsored a federal expenditure transparency bill with one of my congressional heroes Tom Coburn, Obama has been a consistent supporter of good government procedures.

Government transparency and the rule of law -- two items he singled out in his speech to Mac-using White House staffers on Wednesday -- have been conspicuously missing from the presidency since at least 9/11, and I'm happy to see their return.

These are procedural matters, to be sure, and set President Obama firmly in the camp of the good-government crowd. His excellence on government procedural issues makes him a good manager, and a technocrat of just the sort this country needs.

To have technocrats running the show, however, isn't necessarily an entirely good thing. Technocrats are skilled in running the inner-workings of government, but they almost always act with a bit too much certainty on the larger things about which they couldn't possibly know enough.

iagreewithsomeofobamasideas.gifIn a review of The Future And Its Enemies by the ever-fabulous Virginia Postrel, Dr. Edward Younkins summarizes Ms. Postrel's view of the technocrat:

Technocrats celebrate their knowledge and expertise and exude an air of omnicompetence. Seeking predictability and order, they see themselves as social engineers who formulate rational solutions to public problems. Political arguments tend to take place between technocrats advocating competing overarching schemes. Technocrats like to locate the spirit of America in national greatness achieved through bold federal projects.


I anticipate that I will disagree strongly with future actions by this administration (namely in regard to economic policy); however, President Obama is already living up to my highest hopes. I, for one, will be eagerly checking for updates on this page quite often.

Good change, Mr. President. Good change, indeed.

 
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Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
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