The Real Reason Janet Napolitano Doesn't Like Email -- Accountability
from the don't-make-me-back-up-my-statements dept
We've already detailed the cognitive dissonance created by DHS head Janet Napolitano's statements on email usage. Last September, she blithely pointed out that she doesn't use email "at all," and in fact, "avoids many online services." She went on to say that some would call her a "Luddite" and seemed to present the incongruous situation as comical. Hilarity ensued. Powerful government official says, "What, me internet?" LOLS at 11.
So, we all had a good, if disbelieving laugh at
her our own expense (we're still paying her salary), and Janet Napolitano went back to not checking the email account she doesn't have and not internetting with any regularity -- the sort of thing that might be considering endearing if it weren't for the fact that so many politicians openly brag about their lack of computer skills, while simultaneously crafting, amending, voting on a variety of computer-related laws.
Napolitano broached the email subject again recently at a breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor. She restated her view on email as a non-essential annoyance, rather than, say, an extremely useful communication tool.
Ms. Napolitano said she cut the email cord while governor of Arizona “because I was just getting — you know, you get hundreds and hundreds of things all the time.”I can understand feeling overwhelmed by incoming email, but many other people have to deal with the overflowing inboxes and, while they may not like the tedium of dealing with the incoming traffic, they also realize it's an important part of their job and a byproduct of changes in the way people communicate. I'm also fairly sure Napolitano has a staff at her disposal and the power to delegate much of email busywork to others.
In her current job, “which has a hundred thousand different things that happen on any given day, [not using email] allows me to focus on where I need to focus,” she added.
So, there's the "it's too much" angle. But her followup comment seems to indicate the real reason she's abandoned email.
“I also don’t like the process where people could send you an email, then say, see, you were told, or you know this. And then it comes back two years later to say, hey, you got this email — among the thousands you get every day.Oh, I see. Napolitano doesn't want to be accountable. That's
“I want to be a little more selective on how that goes,” she concluded.
Cutting off a heavily-used communication form isn't being "selective." It's willful exclusion, and it places Napolitano's self-interest above the interests of the public and the responsibilities of her position. Would anyone cut her any slack if she had announced she took her phone off the hook back when she was governor of Arizona and STILL HASN'T REPLACED THE HANDSET? "I don't like this process where people call you, then say you were told or you know this. And it comes back two years later, hey, we spoke on the phone -- among the thousands of phone calls I get every day." Would that be acceptable?
There are people out there who think Napolitano should be excused for abandoning email. I would imagine many of these people find this form of communication just as tiresome as she apparently does, but their personal antipathy (and hers) doesn't excuse this sort of exclusionary behavior. Many people hate the demands this accessibility places on them. But they just can't ignore it, especially if they're in the sort of position Napolitano's in.
It was already irritating when she was just doing her "I'm a Luddite LOL" schtick. By openly admitting she's not thrilled that stored electronic communication can be used to hold her responsible for statements or actions, she's crossed the line from obtuse into contemptuous. Our leaders are supposed to be accountable for their actions, and yet many of them do everything they possibly can to avoid it. The DC motto has become "With great power comes selective responsibility," and Napolitano's statement is sadly, unsurprising.