There is a rather good piece by Glenn Greenwald in today’s Salon explaining why Matt Miller, a Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress (CAP) and former official in the Clinton Office of Management and Budget , for suggesting in The Washington Post that not only should former officials of the White House who write books after they leave office be stigmatized and scorned, they should also be prevented from doing so by the president who should be vested with formal power to block publication.
That is an atrocious idea. For one thing, it’s hard to see how enforcement of these silencing contracts could be permitted in light of the First Amendment. And I doubt that Obama, for appearance reasons if nothing else, would take this proposal seriously. But those matters aside, the thinking behind this proposal is common among Beltway insiders and reveals much about the ways of Washington.
The attribute that defines Beltway culture as much as anything else is obsessive, gratuitous secrecy. The vast bulk of what takes place of any consequence occurs away from the public eye. Even laws which Congress enacts are proposed, negotiated and written behind closed doors with lobbyists and operatives. By the time these bills are even known to the public, let alone openly “debated,” their outcome is a foregone conclusion. Floor “debates” and Congressional votes are pure theater, empty rituals with no purpose other than to ratify pre-ordained outcomes that were determined in secret…..
There is much more.