The Obama administration has launched a new subsite at Whitehouse.gov called "Open for Questions" that lets you, Joe Q. Public, submit questions to the president about the economy. Presumably he'll answer the most popular ones when he holds an online town hall discussion tomorrow at 11:30 AM eastern.
Of course, getting your question answered isn't exactly a cakewalk. You submit a text question or a link to a video question, and everyone else votes on it. As I write this, more than 19,000 people have submitted roughly 22,000 questions on 11 topics, casting some 722,000 votes along the way.
My favorite question so far, from "Truehearz" in Johnson City, Tennesee:
"WE NEED A PROGRAM FOR LOW INCOME PEOPLE TO BE ABLE TO GET BETTER DENTAL INSURANCE IN TENNESSEE PEOPLE CANT GET NO HELP SO THERE ARE ALOT OF PEOPLE WITH MESSED UP TEETH I THINK YOU SHOULD CHANGE THIS SO YOU HAVE BETTER LOOKING PEOPLE NOT TOOTH LESS"
Hey, members of the White House press corps have asked dumber questions than that one.
This isn't a new idea. As you probably recall, back during the early days of the presidential primaries CNN and YouTube partnered up to do an entire debate using questions submitted via video (though the 20 or so that made it were picked by CNN, not the general public). So far, no questions from melting snowmen, potato heads, or the ghost of Richard Nixon have been sighted.
In their run to the White House the Obamanistas made a point of emphasizing how they a) understood technology, and b) would be using it to be more transparent and inclusive. So far, we hadn't seen much of that. Part of it was due to legal restrictions on what the White House could and couldn't do on its site.
But Open for Questions seems like a good way to be inclusive without being gimmicky. Whether the public can ask better questions than the press - or at least, elicit better answers from the president - remains to be seen.
You have until tomorrow morning at 9:30 AM eastern to submit questions and vote. So get on it already.