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Obama’s online townhall: What’s really going on? Updated: Megalomania-palooza!

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By Michelle Malkin  •  March 26, 2009 10:35 AM

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At 11:30am Eastern, President Obama will conduct an “online townhall” on the economy.

At this moment, the White House website reports that “92,889 people have submitted 104,079 questions and cast 3,608,538 votes.”

In order to ask a question, you must register your name, e-mail, and zip code.

The DNC, fresh off its failed attempt to muster grass-roots support for the president’s budget, has been aggressively advertising the townhall:

Friend —

I wanted to tell you about an exciting new feature just launched on the White House website called “Open for Questions.”

Here’s how it works — President Obama is inviting everyone to ask a question about the economy and to rate other questions up or down.

On Thursday morning, the President will conduct an online town hall on the economy and answer some of the most popular questions live.

Watch a video of the President explaining this new feature and be a part of it now.

“Open for Questions” is an opportunity to open up the White House to all Americans.

It’s an experiment designed to encourage transparency and accountability by giving you a direct line to the White House.

This first round will deal with the economy. Americans deserve to know what their government is doing to get our economy back on track. But it’s up to you to participate and make this experiment a success.

Join the discussion now:

http://whitehouse.gov/OpenForQuestions

Thanks, and remember to check back Thursday to watch the President answer some of your questions live.

Mitch
Mitch Stewart
Director
Organizing for America

Question: Who will have access to the e-mail registrant list?

The White House privacy policy does not bar sharing of the info with other parties:

Collection and disclosure of information: To ensure we are able to communicate effectively with visitors to our web site, we collect some information that can be directly associated with a specific person. We call this “Personal Information,” and it includes, by way of illustration, names, addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses.

We collect Personal Information from eligible individuals who affirmatively request to receive e-mail or other services from us. We collect this Personal Information in order to provide these eligible individuals with timely information via e-mail regarding events, resources and issues.

It is our general policy not to make Personal Information available to anyone other than our employees, staff, and agents.

Online Comments and Personal Information: We treat your name, city, state, and any comments you provide as public information. We may, for example, provide compilations of your comments to national leaders and other individuals participating in our efforts, without disclosing email addresses. We may also make comments along with your city and state available to the press and public online.

If it is the “general policy” not to share data gathered through the White House website, when and with whom do they make exceptions to the policy? And will the White House notify e-mail registrants when the “general policy” is breached? We saw Team Obama’s rule-bending over Change.gov before.

If this online townhall looks like another permanent campaign registration tool to you, you’re not alone.

***

11:45am Eastern. Obama wasted the first 15 minutes of the “townhall” re-reading his prompter script from the press briefing on Tuesday. The first “hardball” question? How will Obama restore education as a “right?”

12:13pm Eastern. Obama just asked if he could interrupt to make a point. He’s the only one talking.

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