President Obama's reelection efforts will not rise or fall on his Administration's position on ancient coin collecting, but his record on cultural patrimony issues is worth recounting because of the stark contrast between the Administration's rhetoric and the dismal reality of its actions.
Transparency- The rhetoric: President Obama promised that his Administration would be the most transparent in history. The reality: The Obama State Department has refused to release the most basic information about its decision making on import restrictions on cultural goods. Moreover, the Administration has started closing interim reviews of MOUs. This contrasts with the practice of the Bush Administration, which allowed the public to comment at CPAC meetings whether Italy and Cyprus had met their own obligations under MOU's. For now at least, the public can still comment before MOU's are renewed.
Overregulation of Small Business: The rhetoric: The President claims to be against overregulating small business. The reality: The Obama Administration has extended difficult to comply with import restrictions to Greek and Roman coins from Italy and Greece (the heart of the ancient coin market), and will likely add Bulgarian coins to the list soon as well. In so doing, the Administration has ignored multiple requests for meetings to discuss compliance issues from different coin groups, has offered only condescending responses to bipartisan Congressional inquiries (including one coordinated from the office of Republican VP Candidate Congressman Ryan), and has packed CPAC with academics with little sympathy for such concerns.
China: The rhetoric: The President claims he will be tough on Chinese "cheating." The reality: The Obama State Department has closed a CPAC meeting to discuss the interim review of the Chinese MOU. CPAC should be discussing how import restrictions have done little but empower Chinese auction houses linked to the country's ruling elite, but the State Department will instead likely take advantage of this secrecy to spoon feed CPAC a wildly different version of whether import restrictions have been successful.