In the midst of pulling a "Bush" and not release photos of prisoner abuse by American soldiers (using the Dick Cheney argument that releasing them will hurt the troops), Obama has made clear what his promise of an "Open Administration" will be. He hosted a "Poetry Jam" at the WH, where Michelle Obama introduced the event as an example of how the Obama administration will be open. It's worth noting that Laura Bush tried to host a "Poetry Reading" (as we white people call it) but Cheney/Rove made her husband make her cancel it because some of the poets scheduled to read were openly against the Iraq war. A cynic would note that none of the poets invited to Obama's "Poetry Jam" were openly for the Iraq war.
So when Obama said he'd have an open admistration, he didn't mean he'd release information and not abuse the state secrets privilege. He merely meant he'd allow some poets to talk in the East Room of the White House for 45 minutes. Other examples of Obama's "open administration" include:
...the Obamas have played host to bagpipe and mariachi bands, Irish fiddlers and poets, pop stars and jazz singers. Performers have included Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind and Fire, Tony Bennett and Fergie, the singer from the Black Eyed Peas. Paul Muldoon, the Pulitzer-Prize winning poet from Northern Ireland, has recited his verses. The rocker Sheryl Crow and the rhythm and blues singer Alicia Keys have entertained cheering crowds in the East Room.
Now, it could be that "open administration" means two different things. The way it's been used by Obama during the presidential campaign was to mean not being unduly secretive; that is, not being like the Bush Administration. Now it's possible that he's using the phrase "open administration" to mean a wide diversity of people will be invited to the White House. It's my understanding only one speaker (Michael Chabon) at the Poetry Jam was white, while everyone else (including Chabon's wife) was "diverse" (do we really need to continue use this lame euphamism now that we have a "diverse" president?). Okay, more minorities will be invited to events at the White House. Whatever... do we really need an affirmative action program to govern White House invitations?
The problem with this dual usage of the phrase "open administration" is the likelihood for equivocation by the Obama Administration. When he's accused of not having an open administration because of refusing to release certain photos, Obama and his supporters will say "not true, we have an open administration - we just had a Poetry Jam!" It sounds like a moronic thing to say, but that's what public discourse is like these days (by way of example, yesterday on MSNBC (on "Hardball") I heard a member of the Republican-Christian Party say "waterboarding is okay because it's done to Navy Seals during their training." He said it with a straight face, too. If you don't see the problem with that statement, you should be dragged out into the street and shot.
As a side note, it's funny that every news report about this story inclues the caveat that it's a "Poetry Jam" and not a "Poetry Slam" - how hip of them.