No questions, please. This is the White House. (afp photo)
It's standard practice around the White House (going back administrations) for any big nominee pending confirmation to stay away from interviews and unscripted public utterances until the voting is over. It keeps things tidy and minimizes variables. No biggie.
The Obama administration, however, made SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan available for an interview -- by White House staffers. It's Kagan, in her own words, on Kagan. Nice -- but sorry, it doesn't count toward the administration's "accountability" totals. It's just another campaign commercial, masquerading as openness.
From today's testy exchange at the White House briefing:
Q: It appears that Solicitor General Kagan did an interview yesterday right after the president’s announcement. You’ve now posted that on the White House website. Who did the interview? And can I have one?
MR. GIBBS: I think it’s -- I think it’s on the website, if you want to see it...
Q: Would she like to do another one with a journalists?
MR. GIBBS: She has -- she’s not told me that, no.
For clarification, "openness and accountability" includes making yourself and your policies (and sometimes nominees) available for questions -- not just friendly, how-can-we-help-you-succeed questions from supporters, but actual, pesky, even uncomfortable questions. The ongoing disinterest in doing so is part of a larger administration strategy of governing via press release, photo release and closed official events.
Unimpressed, Sheryl Stolberg of the NYT gets all film critic with it and gives the Kagan video a snorty thumbs-down:
Not surprisingly, there were no questions about her views on abortion, or executive power, or affirmative action, or any of the other hot-button issues that conservatives and liberals alike would love to hear her address. Rather, the video is a bland, overly scripted take on a woman who, by all accounts, is warm, funny and engaging.
Kagan on Wednesday starts her rounds in the Senate.