Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Open Government Czar Close-Mouthed About Regulatory Reform...

Apparently, I wasn't the only one struck by former Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University and long-time University of Chicago Law School icon Cass Sunstein's lack of substance at this afternoon's Brookings Institution talk (which event also drew a protester dressed up like Oscar the Grouch and a woman singing "I Love Ash"--referring to a coal industry toxic waste issue that apparently has something to do with the Paperwork Reduction Act, if that makes any sense...).

In any case, here's what the Federal Times Fedline Blog has to say:
Sunstein said surprisingly little about regulatory reform — his chief area of responsibility as the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
Aside from quoting President Obama, John Rawls, Federalist 1 and Aristotle, Sunstein did little but regurgitate boilerplate talking points in favor of open-goverment, transparency, accountability, and "the wisdom of crowds" (though not mob rule, I guess). To say I was disappointed was an understatement. He deflected questions about his previously published positions by saying something that sounded distinctly odd to this listener-- that his academic publications were written by "somebody else" with the same name.

Wikipedia claims the former Supreme Court clerk (Thurgood Marshall) is named after Lewis Cass, a former US Secretary of State. From the Wiki photos it looks like there may be a family resemblance. Notably, the glamorous Samantha Power (of Hillary Clinton "is a monster" fame) appeared to be sitting in the first row--according to Wikipedia, she's his wife, as well as director for multilateral affairs in the Obama administration's National Security Council--so if she was at the lecture, who's dealing with Iranian nukes?

Among the odd topics that Sunstein was willing to discuss with the audience was their 10-month old child, Declan Power-Sunstein (according to Wikipedia). Sunstein stressed the importance of information about child safety seats being made available to the public on the web.

The Starbucks coffee and free cookies were good. Perhaps the transcript will reveal some hidden DaVinci-code like messages upon further study...