Are we living in a rerun of government obfuscation (I always liked that word) and malfeasance? I want to say corruption, but in general, whatever cabal is in power only seeks to preserve and promote its own agenda and supporters. Truly, I do not fault anyone (or group) for that. That’s human nature.
Why this subject? A report from the Committee to Protect Journalists, an interesting read of itself, made note of the current administrations’ restrictive and/or invasive tendencies towards reporters and information publishing. They compared it to the Nixon era antics. Seeing that these are the end points of my adult awareness of national politics, and my knowledge of other administration’s problems (Reagan, Clinton, and Bush all had varying levels of chicanery), I started to think of this problem in a deeper historical context.
With the hindsight provided by our country’s recorded history, and the general acceptance from the bureaucracy that anything that happened fifty years ago can be considered open season for reporting, can we find a recurring theme for this propensity? It’s said that history repeats itself. When in American history do we see efforts to stifle openness of government?
Working backwards, I’ll ignore the most recent situations. That’s covered in the report. Before Nixon, we had: Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower, Truman, FDR, Hoover, Coolidge, Wilson, Taft, and Roosevelt. I do not want to go beyond that for two reasons: that far back, the records are somewhat limited, and I believe the recurrence can be shown just from the last century.
Johnson (ref), he was anti openness on a number of fronts. His earlier career days and socialite nights point to the type of person he was. Definitely had skeletons in the closet. Add to that, he inherited Vietnam from Kennedy. Probably the only reason he got the second term was that nobody else could figure out what to do.
Kennedy (ref), was an earlier form of Obama, preached openness, but gave people the stick. I could go on (full disclosure: I escaped from the Kennedy cult state a long time ago. I still have bad dreams of arguing with ignorant sheeple.), but I’ll stop here.
Eisenhower (ref), was open himself, very direct from his military training, liked to engage in international openness (perhaps ignoring the rest of the planets’ penchant for intrigues), he left national efforts to delegates (i.e., VP Nixon!)
I had/have multiple paragraphs pointing to each administration, back to Teddy Roosevelt. Then I came upon the Saturday Evening Post article. I can’t sum it up better than they.
Truman and FDR can be lumped together for the simple reason that the challenges they were up against required sacrifices of openness.
Hoover; had it both ways, easy and hard. Not a large international presence necessitating secrecy, but a definite national problem dealing with the deprecession.
Coolidge; to a past fifth-grade report writer, he was a pretty decent president. Add forty years and a smattering of Internet research, the conclusion is: this guy helped cause the depression.
Harding; pre-depression, nothing too shady
Wilson; press wrote a story on his daughter, Wilson takes umbrage, clams up to the press
Taft; Riding Roosevelt’s coattails, he had an easier time of it. Until the press erroneously showed their teeth. More of a mistake than anything nefarious, they burnt the plate of goodwill that Roosevelt created. The pace of information, and how it was used, although carried out with urgency, was at a logarithmically slower pace. In general, the population were more assured in their convictions that their leaders did the right and honorable things in their name.
Roosevelt; time, place, and opportunity. Turn of the century with all sorts of technological changes, being in the catbird seat regarding political appointments, and the desire/ability to push for change. It still surprises me that he didn’t get assassinated. The openness of his team was both fascinating and questionable. No doubt that if you were on his side, information flowed freely. Similar to the Kennedy admin, going down alternative paths ultimate led journalists to a dead, quiet, end.
Doing this post has been an eye opener, even for a now-cynical eye as mine. This has been going on since Og and Nog first got together to decide how to divide the days’ lizard catch among the tribe. As in most of my other posts (and I’m already tired of stating it), follow the money. We the sheep have no tool (either in place, or in mind) to exact accountability from elected officials and the cadres that support them (financial sector, military/police sector). This is something that should be a singular amendment to the Constitution. “All politicians (to the local level, school boards, etc.) are subject to corruption and malfeasance laws.”
A closing point, noted from my readings; the speed at which information flows today is the culprit. Government planning takes time, careful assessment, and ‘trust’. Because anyone with access to a leak can blurt new info the ether, caution supported by secrecy, are the planners’ bywords. Also, taking into account all the transmissions broadcast, is there a need for an automated plan to skew news in favor of the governing party?
So, to answer the original question, Yes! We are going through a rerun of machinations, whose sole purpose is to protect the leading junta.