Obama can’t even be transparent on things like his basic schedule, even when there is absolutely nothing controversial. Obviously, it’s to hide when there are things that would pique media interest, like the meeting with Hillary Clinton, or perhaps meetings with folks like Lois Lerner?
On May 29, President Barack Obama had lunch at the White House with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The likely 2016 presidential contender has been to hundreds of West Wing meetings, first as first lady, then as senator, and finally as the top American diplomat.
But this face-to-face was unusual. Unlike dozens of presidential meetings every week — and a similar Obama-Clinton meeting in July 2013 — it was not announced in advance.
Instead, reporters who cover Obama learned about the secret visit from a People magazine tweet, and ultimately managed to wring a terse sentence from an anonymous White House official grudgingly confirming that the world’s most powerful person had met with the woman who is arguably the front-runner to succeed him. The topic of their discussion was not revealed.
This is how the White House works. A week before the secret lunch, the schedule failed to mention that the president was hosting a bipartisan delegation of senators for what one Republican attendee later described as a “bizarre” foreign policy meeting. A month before that, there was no advance word that Obama would welcome a group of Japanese-American World War II veterans in the Oval Office — on the eve of the anniversary of FDR signing the infamous order to put Japanese-Americans in concentration camps, no less.
All of those meetings fall well within the president’s duties. But not one appeared on the public presidential schedule posted online the night before and distributed to the press. Instead, all were on the only White House schedule that really matters: the president’s private schedule.
It’s a document so closely held that Obama aides, like their counterparts under George W. Bush, are expected to dispose of it at day’s end in “burn bags” typically reserved for documents so sensitive they cannot be consigned to mere shredding.