It was clear from its inception that the White House's "We the People" internet petition system was a shameless public relations gimmick perhaps only surpassed in gimmickiness by Obama's "withdrawal" from Iraq and Afghanistan. (If you are opposed to American troops staying in Afghanistan until the sun explodes, all you have to do is "sign the internet petition.") The internet is a powerful tool if used correctly. But please don't waste your time with Obama's e-petitions.
We couldn't help but cringe when two separate petitions with a combined 320,000 signatures demanded that the White House investigate Arizona's recent election fraud freak show. The average response time to petitions that reach the signature threshold is 123 days. Good grief, in 123 days Hillary Clinton will have already stolen the nomination and the presidency.
Other notable petitions that qualify for an official response but of course will never receive one call for banning all fracking on public land and repealing the Magnitsky Act. (Obama would sooner ban drone-bombing nameless brown children of "military age" than ban the exploitation of public property for the benefit of a tiny, scumbag minority. As for repealing the Magnitsky Act - any policy change that could be interpreted as treating Russia fairly and according to international law is of course out of the question.)
Why do people still bother with these petitions? Edward Snowden's attorney said it best, after a petition calling for her client's pardon was ignored for two years:
"The White House petition website is just another politicized mechanism disguised as a hallmark of transparency," says Jesselyn Radack, an attorney for Snowden.
"Ignoring petitions the administration doesn't like, such as the one to pardon my client Edward Snowden, exposes the site as a propaganda tool, rather than a meaningful way of influencing government," she says.
But defenders of Obama's e-baloney will point out that the White House was quick to respond to a very important petition demanding that Justin Bieber be deported. See? Democracy in action.
Taken as a whole, this sad website full of ignored petitions is actually a powerful personal reminder that $100,000 from a single lobbyist has more sway than hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans. "So it goes."