Sure have been a lot of changes this month. Some of the changes were swift and expected, and sent a strong signal to the world that things in D.C. had changed: the closing of Gitmo, the pay freeze for all White House senior staff, the insistence that transparency be the new order of the day for the government of the United States.
And then there were changes like this one, small and trivial compared to the events I just listed but marvelously, gloriously symbolic of the difference between the previous administration and the new administration. You can see it for yourself:
1. Go to Google Earth.
2. Enter the address 'One Observatory Circle'
3. Behold the home of the Vice President of the United States.
If you tried doing that during the last four years (since Google Earth went live), you would have seen a blurred and obscured image where the house should be. Because when the residence was the home of Dick Cheney it was a Google Earth non-entity; like some strange and unnatural life form, Dick Cheney hated the light of day, and his obsession with operating in darkness even extended into the relatively benign world of Google Earth. The White House? No problem on Google Earth. The Pentagon? Clear as day. The VP's house? Forget about it.
During his tenure as Vice President, Cheney expressed nothing but disdain for any who tried to pierce the Invisibility Cloak he had wrapped himself in. From his first day in office he arrogantly viewed himself not as a public servant accountable to the American people but as an untouchable -- above the law, answerable to no one. He sneeringly told the press and the people that he could do as he pleased, and he did, even going so far as to mess with the satellite image of his home. Compared to his other offenses, the blurring of the image of his home on Google Earth was a minor transgression, but it caught people's attention; it seemed so indicative of the nature of the man, that he saw nothing wrong in spying on the American people but could not bear the thought of someone using their home computer to take a peek at him.
And now One Observatory Circle has a new resident. Vice President Joe Biden has echoed Barack Obama's call for transparency and accountability, and on January 18, the day Cheney moved out and Biden moved in, the shroud of secrecy lifted from the home of the Vice President like magic.
Guess the new V. P. doesn't fear the American people quite so much as the last.