Obama to Ditch Blackberry and Email


A story in Sunday's NY Times about Obama surrendering his Blackberry caught my attention. Until Jan 20, 2009 whatever he writes on it is private. After that, it's all public. Who among us could live with that kind of requirement? Not many.

It's a sad irony that we've constructed a public world--and believe me, this extends far further than the President--where public figures must eschew the kinds of tools we all lean on every day. I know of what I speak. I used to work in Governor Mike Leavitt's office and "channel" was a constant thought in the back of everyone's mind. Pick the wrong channel for certain types of messages and you might find yourself answering questions you'd rather not.

You might be thinking, "if you're honest, you've got nothing to fear!" Oh how I wish that we true. The fact is that there will be people out to get Obama who care nothing about the truth. That's true of anyone in public life.

Here's the acid test: anything that would take more than two sentences to explain is something you'd rather the other side not get a hold of an twist. If you need 5 minutes to counter their 30 second sound bite, you lost.

So what will Obama do? The obvious answer is give up the Blackberry. But Obama has surprised before in like situations; maybe he'll hold onto it. If you're curious about what this might feel like, go back through the last week's email and consider whether you'd post them all online. Then reconsider that thinking how someone opposed to you and your agenda might twist them. It's a sobering exercise.