LilCerb: When the White House set up the petition site they made a policy promise stating that they would respond to any petition that got X number of votes. I don't think the fact that the American people proposed and organized a campaign to nominate a joke petition reflects on Obama one way or another. I thought the administration handled it as well as they could given the situation.
Fair enough. So then, was the article written in a manner than slammed the stupidity of the proposal (and those that proposed it), or was it simply praising the administration for stopping that stupidity?
How much taxpayer money was spent addressing the proposal and writing the "official" rejection in properly worded bureaucrat-ese?
The whole episode kinda shows the flaw of Obama's "any petition" policy....30,000 signees is NOTHING ( about 0.01% of the US population) to get via the Internet. Yeah, that policy gives the illusion of an open administration, but in practice just lead to even more government waste.
Most articles were pure fluff pieces that took neither position. They treated it with the seriousness it deserved.
Yeah, it uses taxpayer money, but it's a drop in the bucket: hosting fees for the website and a few staffers. If you were looking for places to cut government waste you're not going to save millions by eliminating the petition office. And we need to find cuts that save billions, anyway.
But it is a flawed, and not just because people propose silly initiatives (there was another one suggesting Obama be impeached). The main problem I see is that it seems to perpetuate the common misconception that the President is a lawmaker. If people really wanted things done they should petition Congress. To a large extent, the program gives people a false sense of empowerment, the suggestion that they can participate directly in the governing process if their petition is approved. That just isn't so, the President doesn't have the power to do most of the things people are asking for, like "declare the Westboro Church a hate group."
The plus side is it gets people involved in politics, starts debates, and makes it easy to see what the hot button issues are. Given how relatively cheap the program is I think the positives slightly outweigh the negatives, but I wouldn't shed any tears if it went away.
One of the interesting serious ones that managed to get a high number of votes was "Require free access over the Internet to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research." I'll be curious to see how they respond to that one.