Brian Birdnow

News reports dated Tuesday, December 29th declare that President Obama has called for “a sweeping overhaul” of the federal government system of protecting classified information. The President insisted that “… no information may remain classified indefinitely” and signaled a new effort in making information public by instituting a four-year deadline for processing archival records relating to military and diplomatic operations during World War II, Korea & Viet Nam. This should prove an unqualified boon to historians and political scientists.

The President should be lauded for his commitment to this new “open and transparent system”. He is rediscovering one of his campaign themes after a year of operational stealth and guile in office. Conservatives should take the President at his word and test his sincerity. We can begin by requesting a number of personal items relating to the mysterious gaps in the official Obama biography. First, the President should release academic transcripts from his time at Occidental College. Despite the supposedly sterling academic credentials President Obama possesses he will not release these records. Why? The new “open and transparent” approach will clear up any lingering misconceptions concerning Obama’s academic preparation and his intellectual standing.

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We can next move to questions concerning the Obama family activities, especially records concerning First Lady Michelle Obama’s $350,000 salary for a job as Director of Community Relations at the University of Chicago Hospital when she actually lived with the family in the Washington D. C. area. Credible reports abound that the future First Lady earned an extravagant salary for no work and the Obama family can put these rumors to rest by practicing the transparency that they profess. Similarly, the Obama family can open records concerning the purchase of their Chicago townhome with the assistance of convicted felon Tony Rezko. An “open and transparent” approach to documents would answer many questions.


Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.