On the morning of Barack Obama’s inauguration, the president-elect’s transition chief, John Podesta, has an energetic, impassioned editorial in the Los Angeles Times. He touches upon the spirit of Obama’s candidacy, the hopes and prayers of all Americans, and the first days of the new presidency. The subject matter of his editorial? That Obama should be able to keep his BlackBerry.
I know that without his virtual connection to old friends and trusted confidants beyond the bubble that seals off every president from the people who elected him, he’d be like a caged lion padding restlessly around the West Wing, wondering what’s happening on the other side of the iron bars that surround the People’s House.
Sure, that’s how a lot of people feel without their own BlackBerries. But you’d think having the FBI, CIA, and Secret Service at his disposal to figure out what’s going on out there would mitigate that feeling for the president. Podesta goes on, at length, using a lot of big ideas to explain why the BarackBerry is essential for the future of democracy.
An off-line Obama isn’t just bad for Barack. It’s bad for all of us. The president’s ability to reach outside his inner circle gives him access to fresh ideas and constructive critics; it underscores the difference between political “victories” and actual solutions; and it brings the American people into a battle we can only win by working together.
Seriously? Okay, okay, so he’s keeping the BlackBerry. But if they start arguing that an on-campus basketball court at the White House is essential for World Peace, we’re going to draw the line.