Obama to (Finally) Fulfill One of His Promises

By agreeing to release logs of visitors to the White House.

The President has decided to increase governmental transparency by implementing a voluntary disclosure policy governing White House visitor access records. The White House will release, on a monthly basis, all previously unreleased WAVES and ACR access records that are 90 to 120 days old. For example, records created in January 2010 will be released at the end of April 2010. The short time lag will allow the White House to continue to conduct business, while still providing the American people with an unprecedented amount of information about their government. No previous White House has ever adopted such a policy.

The voluntary disclosure policy will apply to records created after September 15, 2009, and the first release of records (covering the month of September) will occur at the end of the year, on or about December 31, 2009.

A couple of points on this (and forgive me for being churlish.

First, they’re announcing this as they prepare to screw progressives on health care. If this is meant to be a sop, I’m not buying it).

Second, this is a classic Greg Craig agreement: a voluntary agreement that can be overturned at the whim of the Executive. So while it’s nice and all, it doesn’t cede on Executive Power in the least.

And finally, note that this is just going forward, not historical. So we don’t get a final list of all the lobbyists who have visited the White House when Progressives were still being shut out.

56 replies
  1. BillE says:

    I really hope the progressive caucus holds firm on this. The Dem party is going to much better off if they do. The Rhambo crowd really needs to eat it on this. If the PC can hold and force some Blue Dogs to recalculate what they need to be re-elected ( passing a bill ) then a good bill will emerge. But if they crack under the Obama fundraising machine then they will never have credibility again.

    I would like to see if this voluntary list contains anyone who is even remotely progressive. ( Not a boot licker )


  2. JimWhite says:

    Uhm, excuse me Mr. President, what about putting the health care reform negotiations on CSPAN?

    Didn’t you promise that, as well?



  3. BoxTurtle says:

    Obama has decided the progressives can be effectively ignored.

    What confuses me is that he would have an easier time striking a deal with the democrat left then with the GOP middle. What is Obama’s fixation with Sen Snow, anyway?

    I wonder where this “deal with the GOP, rather than the Democrat left” is coming from. Certainly, Rahm is not a bipartisan supporter. He hates the GOPer’s as a matter of principle. Obama is not beholden to Pharma/insurance corporations as far as I know, though Rahm and some key democrats are.

    If Obama were to make a plea to the netizens for funds like he did during the campaign, I wonder how much money he’d raise. He won’t get another dime from me until I hear the words “public option” and “torture prosecutions”.

    Boxturtle (Figuring my money is safe)

      • WilliamOckham says:

        If he loses the base it’s down 23 – 41 seats in the House and he’s a one termer.

        Can he be that stupid?

        This is totally wrong. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘losing the base’, but anybody who thinks the Dems will lose 23-41 seats in the House in 2010 is smoking crack. It’s just not possible. I’m as frustrated as anybody by Obama’s fecklessness (and even more so the Dems in the Senate), but I know an effective politician when I see one. If he’s breathing, Obama will win in 2012. People need to get a grip on reality. The Dems are in power and we better figure out how to move them in the best direction. It’s time to get organized and make sure the politician understand where the center really is. It ain’t Olympia Snowe and Ben Nelson. Anthony Weiner is a lot closer to the center of public opinion than they are.

        • perris says:

          can’t agree with you, obama is a disapointment to just about everyone, I don’t think he’s teflon and I don’t think he’s winning in oh twelve unless he does something substantial just before the election

          like capture bin laden or something

          if obama ran as a republican he would win their nomination, he loses democrats and republicans won’t vote for him even though he’s been actings like a republican

          I think he’s one term

          • WilliamOckham says:

            Want to put some money on that? Seriously. Are you gonna sit at home and let Sarah Palin (or whatever crazy the Republicans nominate) win? I’m not. Mike Huckabee is the sanest person capable of winning the Republican nomination. Think about that for a minute. (And no Multiple-Choice Mitt hasn’t got a chance. No way a Mormon wins Republican party primaries in the South which means on Mormon is going to win the nomination).

            • perris says:

              ya, I’ll take that bet;

              “if obama does not come up with something substantial he will lose to the democratic challenger in the primaries”

              that’s my bet and I’m willing to put money on it, as far as sarah palin, believe me, she’s not gonna be their candidate they’re gonna find someone far more electable then her…I’ll take bets on that also

              obama better make some changes fast if he wants to be more then a one term president, you can bet on that william, I will

              • WilliamOckham says:

                I hope you’re still around here in 2012. I love to gloat. I’ll be happy to give you 10-1 odds against a successful Democratic challenge to Obama.

                You’re probably right about Palin. I really doubt that she has what it takes to stick through a primary campaign. But if you think the Republican will find somebody more electable, you haven’t been paying attention.

                [Just so everybody’s clear on this, I’m not predicting Obama’s success because I’m a big fan of his. The institutional barriers to unseating an incumbent President are huge. The only thing that could really jeopardize Obama’s re-election would be a significant third-party candidate from the Democratic coalition and I don’t see that happening.]

                • perris says:

                  I hope you’re still around here in 2012. I love to gloat. I’ll be happy to give you 10-1 odds against a successful Democratic challenge to Obama.

                  ya, right

                  olberman happens to agree with me, go figure

                  obama is walking on extremely thin ice and I am sure hoping he gets a very succesful primary challenge even if he does get the public option through

                  I actually prefer he gets impeached for being a party to, covering up and facilitating war crimes including but not exclusively including torture but that’s another discussion

                  you should hope so too this man is such a disapointment to everyone

                  in any event we’re spinning our wheels speculating and I doubt either of us will be able to search this conversation up when the time comes

                  • WilliamOckham says:

                    We can talk about impeaching Obama after we’ve put Cheney and Bush in jail.

                    I’m actually pretty determined to go back and find my old predictions. I’m not that good with predicting what individuals will do (although I did call the no pardons approach of Bush when almost no one believed that). Here are some of my old predictions:

                    I know that presidential campaigns are often insular, but Palin must be delusional if she thinks she has a chance in 2012. Two weeks after the election, the conventional wisdom will be that Palin cost McCain his chance at the presidency. The press will go back to swinging on McCain’s tire swing and Palin will go back to Alaska to be an unpopular governor. Even though she’ll still be popular with the Republican base, she’ll get waxed by Huckabee in the primaries in 2012. Palin will be lucky to finish out her term as governor.

                    And here:

                    I’m going to quote some predictions I made earlier. On Sept. 12th, I got into a bit of an argument with Ian Welsh at the mothership about Obama’s chances. I said this:

                    Obama will win in an electoral landslide (350+ electoral votes). The pollsters will spend a couple of months wondering why their likely voter models were so wrong, even though they saw the movement towards Obama in the final two weeks.

                    The financial crisis pushed things Obama’s way earlier than I expected, but I stand by the outcome prediction.

                    On Sept. 18, I made this prediction in a comment at fivethirtyeight.com:

                    The election won’t be that close. Obama will win and the only thing in doubt is the size of his victory. I’m putting this prediction in a comment so that I can point you all to it on Nov. 5.

                    Obama will win by at least 7 points more than his national poll lead two weeks before the election (unless he’s already ahead by 10 points by then). This will happen because the remaining undecideds will break his way and the +3% due to his ground game that the polls are missing. Undecideds will break his way because the economy sucks.

                    Best case for McCain: he polls 45% and third-party candidates get 5%.

                    Best case for Obama: he gets 57%, McCain 40% and third-party 3%.

                    Likely outcome: Obama 54%, McCain 43%, Others 3%.

                    Again, the financial crisis pushed people towards Obama earlier than I expected.

                    On Oct. 1, I sent my son an email with an optimistic electoral college map that showed Obama 376 – McCain 162. Obama carrying Kerry states plus Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Nebraska CD 2. Today, I’m doubting he’ll pick up that 1 EV from Nebraska. On the other hand, if things really break his way, he picks up Georgia and North Dakota. Arizona would be just too much to ask for.

                    Now take a look at Sam Wang’s meta-analysis of state polls and realize that I made those first two predictions when things looked pretty much dead even in the polls and Obama was trending down. You can say I got lucky because the financial crash or McCain screwed up or whatever. Maybe you’re right. On the other hand, I’ll assert that it is possible to build a theory of how presidential elections work that allows one to differentiate between events that have transitory effects and those that move the polls in substantive ways. I called this election over on August 29th after McCain picked Palin. There was simply no way for McCain to win after that. It was pretty obvious that Palin would kill him in the states he needed to win.

                    The only state I missed in my prediction was Missouri and I always knew it was a tossup. I’m not convinced a recount there wouldn’t have put Obama over the top. I have incorporated a lot of post-election data into my predictions for 2010 and 2012. I think I understand much better today than I did back then about how things work. I’m willing to put my predictions up against any of the pros.

                    You think elections are determined by ideology, but that’s clearly not true. People develop their political identity in their late teens and early twenties. That political identity pretty much establishes their voting behavior for the rest of their life, barring life-changing events. Unlike 40 years ago, there are effectively no swing voters at the Presidential level. Simple demographics tell you that Obama will win reelection in 2012 with a larger margin than he had in 2008. Sure, it’s possible that some huge event could change that, but those things are really unlikely.

                    Mid-term Congressional elections are harder to predict, but the safest prediction is that the result won’t be more than a 2-3% swing in either direction. Given their incumbency advantage, that makes the Democrats a lock to maintain control of the House in 2010.

                    • perris says:

                      so then we have a bet

                      you are laying 10 to one, the proceeds will go to this site in the name of the winner, I don’t think I can seriously expect you to have enough to cover a substantial bet so I’ll let you set the base, anything you say will be fine as far as I am concerned

                      so here are the ground rules;

                      a substantial political winning event voids this bet, anyone at the site would be allowed to say whether that event is substantial enough to void the bet

                      I am saying with no substantial event obama loses to either a democratic challenger or a republican

                      you say he wins no matter what

                      is this a correct understanding of our bet?


                      I live on the same planet as olberman, I am wondering why you would want to insult me and my fun bet with william but I am willing to cover your bet if you want a part of this action

              • Blue says:

                A (viable) primary challenger for a sitting Democratic president (never mind the 1st ‘black’ president)? In the words of Barney Franks … on what planet do you spend most of your time Perris?

          • WilliamOckham says:

            Yep, he’s smoking crack, too. Let me explain. His formula assumes that the Congressional elections work the same way today as they did in 1946. That is utter nonsense. Look up Wesberry v. Sanders. You’d be a lot better off taking a look at the work of Andrew Gellman. I don’t agree with all of what he says, but he at least understands what it would take (an unlikely and significant swing) to put the House in jeopardy.

            I’m not saying that the Dems won’t lose some seats in the House. They probably will, but the chances of them losing more than 15 seats is pretty low. I think the seats they are most likely to lose are blue dog seats and I’m perfectly OK with that.

      • karnak12 says:

        For my money, if he doesn’t do an about-face, and soon, that’s where my vote’s going. I will vote for whoever is running against him, and vote for whoever is running against any other Dem on the ticket.

        I’ll bet I’m not the only one who feels that way.

        Thanks for keeping on top of this Marcy.

    • STTPinOhio says:

      What is Obama’s fixation with Sen Snow, anyway?

      Personally, I think they are trying to capture the votes of the 89 people she represents.

  4. Citizen92 says:

    Is this a real accommodation?

    Is the Obama White House still propositioning that WAVES and ACR records are “Presidential Records” as the Bush Administration hastily proposed through a sketchy MOU with the Secret Service in May 2006? The WAVES and ACR records have, and always been compiled by the Secret Service (now part of DHS and prior to that Treasury) on Secret Service systems, paid for by Secret Service funds, maintained by Secret Service personnel. Which (prior to the unilateral declaration in May 2006) meant they were Agency or Federal records and subject to FOIA.

    Since the WAVES and ACR records cover people other than the President’s staff and visitors to the President’s staff, will we be able to also see the names of all passholders, like DNC workers who have permanent passes to access the White House (a very common practice under Bush, not sure about Obama)?

    What’s the deal with the VP’s Residence records? I believe that Cheney dismantled the system and ended up getting some sort of handwritten log of Residence visitors. The current VP is still going along with this?

  5. TheraP says:


    …. wow, is it Catholic guilt?

    I fear the boat full of churlish folk is full to the point of sinking!

    Count me among the passengers.

    • fatster says:

      You beat me to it (and EW beat me to it with the Big Announcement about visitor logs). This one is particularly irritating isn’t it and proves that “The Rule of Law” nowadays applies only to us little people.

      • Citizen92 says:

        Does the US Attorney for NJ get a driver or security detail?

        According to the Star-Ledger, Chris was “lost” in the not-so garden city of Elizabeth, NJ while trying to get to an official event.

        Also according to that story, Christie was driving a rented BMW sedan.

        Excuse me, but what car rental companies rent BMW sedans?

        It’s beginning to sound to me like Chris either doesn’t have a license, or can’t qualify for insurance, since he keeps popping up driving other people’s cars. Recklessly.

  6. brendanx says:


    I assume you seen the Christie story at TPM: hit a motorcyclist driving the wrong way down a one-way street and wasn’t ticketed.

  7. ghostof911 says:

    OT. Sibel Edmonds responds to query about testifying in the Schmidt v. Krikorian trial on October 1. She asks that additional FBI agents be deposed.

    1- If I’m asked I will certainly testify.

    2- I will suggest that Krikorian party depose the FBI agents who have first hand knowledge of the relevant matters. I know these agents, and I know they will tell the truth under oath. In fact, they may be glad to finally find an outlet for the truth and what’s been covered up for many years. They pursued these cases avidly, seeking criminal indictment (justice) for the involved treasonous US officials…

  8. fatster says:

    O/T for the arts lovers

    ‘Wide Stance,’ a Play Based On Larry Craig
    One of Washington’s more colorful recent scandals is heading to the stage.

    “A playwright and filmmaker who splits his time between New York and Los Angeles is writing a fictionalized play about former senator Larry Craig’s 2007 arrest in an airport men’s room sex sting, The Sleuth has learned.

    “The work-in-progress, titled — what else? — “Wide Stance,” is already scheduled for a debut reading in Craig’s hometown of Boise in January at the spectacular home of former Washingtonian artistic power couple Liz Wolf and her husband, Bill Blahd.”


  9. Peterr says:

    “a voluntary disclosure policy”?

    Sorry, but it’s a change in practice, not policy.

    The policy is “These logs belong to the Executive, and nobody has a right to them.” That isn’t changing.

    The practice was “We aren’t showing them to anybody” which is now being changed to “since we’re so swell, we’ll show them to you, but only 90 days later.”

    Just so we’re clear here.

    • sandbun says:

      Plus it wasn’t entered into voluntary – it was a legal settlement, not something Obama believes should just be the rule in general. If they weren’t pushed they would’ve happily shut everyone out.

  10. Phoenix Woman says:

    Actually, it looks like some Bush-era records have already been released as a result of this change:

    Frequent visitors to the Bush White House included Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell and many other conservative Christian leaders.

    Among the previously undisclosed visitors to the Bush White House were political conservative activist Paul Weyrich, lobbyist Stephen Payne, conservative christian think tank head Tony Perkins, Concerned Women For America President Wendy Wright, conservative Traditional Values Coalition Chairman Louis Sheldon, and its Executive Director Andrea Lafferty, evangelical christian author James Dobson, Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell, Gary Bauer, and American Family Association founder Donald Wildmon.


    A complete list in three parts can be found here, here and visitors to Vice President Cheney can be found here.

  11. CasualObserver says:

    Being skeptical isn’t being churlish. or I sure hope not, because I’m highly skeptical. CREW had lawsuits filed on all these, had recently won one against DHS, so the WH decision was not made in a vacuum, or in public-minded fidelity to Obama’s campaign pledges.

    I’m just getting started. The WH will NOT disclose visits from whomever they choose, whenever they choose. So they will disclose visitation only when they want to. Finally, as you say, they’re not “looking backward” at all the energy and healthcare consults that were done.

    I’m glad the CREW is happy, and yes they are praising the WH. And, OK, Obama is better than Bush and, maybe, McCain on this. OK. I admit it.

  12. STTPinOhio says:

    OT (with apologies), but I’d like to take brief break from the Obama bashing to say wtf gives with these crazy mf’s not showing POTUS’s speech to school children?

    Pulling your kids out of school?

    The blatant racism behind this is unbelievable.

    OK, now back to laying wood to Rahm & Co.

      • STTPinOhio says:

        Yeah, especially since these people didn’t make a peep when GHW Bush did the same thing in October of 1991.

        Why, it would’ve been seen as unpatriotic!

        But with the Black man, anything goes.

        Carry automatic rifles outside of his town hall meetings? Fine.

        Compare him to Hitler? Go right ahead.

        Wish brain cancer on him from the pulpit? Excellent!

  13. Phoenix Woman says:

    Actually, it looks like some Bush-era records have already been released as a result of this change:

    Frequent visitors to the Bush White House included Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell and many other conservative Christian leaders.

    Among the previously undisclosed visitors to the Bush White House were political conservative activist Paul Weyrich, lobbyist Stephen Payne, conservative christian think tank head Tony Perkins, Concerned Women For America President Wendy Wright, conservative Traditional Values Coalition Chairman Louis Sheldon, and its Executive Director Andrea Lafferty, evangelical christian author James Dobson, Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell, Gary Bauer, and American Family Association founder Donald Wildmon.

    A complete list in three parts can be found here, here and visitors to Vice President Cheney can be found here.

  14. fatster says:

    O/T: Go Jerry!

    Brown Launches Independent Inquiry into HMOs’ Handling of Health Insurance Claims
    News Release
    September 03, 2009

    Los Angeles – “Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that deputies in his office are launching an independent inquiry into how Health Maintenance Organizations review and pay insurance claims submitted by doctors, hospitals and other medical providers. “


  15. fatster says:

    O/T Two for the car people

    Audi President Has Verbal Jolt for Volt
    Predicts the Chevy hybrid will fall flat with consumers
    Posted by Lawrence Ulrich on Wednesday, September 2, 2009 10:07 AM

    “He [Audi America President]dismissed GM’s upcoming plug-in hybrid as “a car for idiots,” saying that few consumers will be willing to pay $40,000 — the Volt’s estimated base price — for a car that competes against $25,000 sedans and conventional hybrids.”


    Published: September 3, 2009

    “Ford Motor said it planned to start producing a small car in India next year. The car will be sold in India and exported.”


    • bmaz says:

      Keep in mind that Audi is the Chrysler of Germany; BMW and Mercedes they are not. Heck, they ain’t even Porsche or VW for that matter. Meager bleatings from a man leading a brand forgot.

    • STTPinOhio says:

      Either that, or Cheney was repeatedly visited, every hour of every day, but a large black rectangular object.

      Even with the typo, that was hilarious!

    • Hmmm says:

      By the way, the guest list just released for Dick Cheney is completely redacted.

      Nobody could have predicted…

  16. EdNSted says:

    as they prepare to screw progressives on health care

    Thank you Marcy, for now saying this in no uncertain terms. I said exactly this 6 months ago and was subsequently asked to leave a progressive blog because I clearly did not know what I was talking about. At that point, Obama was the progressive’s prophet, come to save us all.

    Truth is, I take no special delight in being correct on this particular subject but, to a degree, misery does love company.

  17. drouse says:

    I can’t help but wonder that the reluctance to release the logs was to keep us from finding that Kissinger was whispering in yet another presidents ear.

  18. NorskeFlamethrower says:


    Citizen emptywhee and the Firepup Freedom Fighters:

    This is the final test and while I never thought Obama is stupid I’m havin second thoughts…if he follows the corporate stooges on his staff he will not only flunk the final exam but he will become a one term President and the Democratic Party will expand it’s majorities in both houses of Congress. If Obama has done anythin’ this last week it’s to put the Progressives in Congress out in front and the only way they survive is to hold firm and kill any bill that doesn’t have a strong public option. He is playin chicken with the progressives and if they hold firm we all win and Obama gets an ass-kickin…if not, well we’re all gunna be standin in the soup line.


    • NorskeFlamethrower says:

      p.s. …it IS entirely possible that he is forcin’ the progressives to lead and he ken take the credit if they do.

  19. Blue says:

    I think that in the context of Obama’s actual transparency/accountability versus his stated positions we can interpret this to mean they’re going to be a helluva a lot more careful about what makes it into the WH logs from here on out.

  20. SkepticRising says:

    Another thing I’m not buying about the release of the visitor’s logs is the idea that somehow the public knowing who is visiting the white house prevents them from “doing business”. More bull puckey.

  21. temptingfate says:

    Finally, proof of change we can believe in. Obama keeps one relatively innocuous promise.
    Celebration time come on.

    Up next: single-payer, getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan, reducing military spending, ending don’t ask don’t tell and stopping the “when in doubt, bail it out” policy for the massively wealthy and incompetent.

    Making certain America stands for the Geneva Convention and justice will just have to wait.

    Abandon progressives? They cannot be the only people that wanted these promises kept.

  22. Hmmm says:

    Leave it to me to state the obvious yet again, but the trouble I have with the idea of primarying PBO involves how bad the alternative is practically guaranteed to be. I see no reason to believe the R’s couldn’t rabble-rouse again with a ticket even uglier than McCain/Palin and draw more votes with it than either candidate of a split D party could muster. What, you really think an incumbent isn’t going to draw big numbers just ‘cuz? I surely do. Under those circumstances, we’re essentially back to the Nader scenario, and bad as PBO has proven himself to be so far, the consequences of another W-like reign are truly too awful to even begin to entertain. In Gen. Jack Ripper’s immortal words, “Regrettably, we find ourselves in a position where we have to choose between two highly undesirable, but nonetheless clearly distinguishable outcomes, one worse than the other” (or something very much like that).

    Nope, if we’re screwed — note the emphasis on if — then it’s for structural reasons and we’re screwed for good. To get unscrewed, we would either have to deliver morally undeniable messaging to the electorate that precipitates mass peaceful demonstrations (we certainly have the message, but let’s face it, we lack the powerful messengers we need [BTW where the fuck is Bono when we finally really need him to lead the kids?]; and tradMed is blocking hard), or else we’ll have to make more of us. That, and get way, way more money and corps than we currently have.

    Fortunately we have all the good womenfolk, that ought to act as an effective lure…

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