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This is Change?

Technology has fundamentally changed the way we interact, do business and make political decisions over the past 15 years. And yet now, after an historic election, the Luddites are saying that technology has no place in government. According to the New York Times, on taking office as president in January, Barack Obama will be forced to stop using email and turn in his BlackBerry. Say Goodbye to BlackBerry? If Obama Has to, Yes He Can [NYTimes.com].

The rationales given for this are plain stupid — that presidential records need to be preserved and that private communications might be intercepted. The Bush Administration has ignored email preservation anyway. And all presidential communications, including face-to-face conversations, can be leaked, recorded or intercepted, regardless of technology. No, this reactionary rule is simply an effort by the Secret Service and the permanent bureaucracy in Washington to prevent change, to keep the president in the “walled garden” of the White House.

John Kennedy famously went around the bureaucracy (which he compared to “nailing Jello to the wall”) and cultivated direct relationships with agency staffers. Barack, I’ll give you an email alias to use from your iPhone if you want. And I bet your friend Eric Schmidt at Google could do you even better!!

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