Oil spill – Katrina II? Where is Obama?
Peter Daou has a piece in the Huffington Post discussing the on-going oil spill disaster and asking:
Where is the outrage? Where are the millions marching in the streets, where is the round-the-clock roadblock coverage tracking every moment of the crisis, every effort to plug the leak, every desperate attempt to mitigate the damage?
Where is the White House? Where are Republicans? Where are Democrats? Where is the left? Where is the right? Where is the “fierce urgency of now?”
Where’s Geraldo Rivera on a boat in the Gulf holding up an oily pelican and weeping in his whiskers? Where’s CNN and MSNBC covering every drop of oil gushing from the blown casing with ominous sounding music and an intro that says “Oil Catastrophe, Day 36 of the underwater BP disaster”?
And, where is the government? Of course they’re right where I figured they’d be, but then I don’t have the faith in the magic competence of government that others do seem to have.
Look, I’m on record being displeased with the response of BP specifically and the oil industry in general. I’ve been clear that I think what is going on now is a result of a lack of planning and testing a “go-to-hell” plan that addressed a deep water blowout. And because of that we continue into day whatever of oil gushing from a broken riser and polluting the Gulf of Mexico. There’s no way to play that down. There’s no way to “spin” that. Because of a failure to anticipate this sort of problem and be prepared to mitigate the results, we have anywhere for 5,000+ barrels a day pumping out into the waters of the Gulf.
But that said, where is the government? Well, lucky us, they’re setting up a commission. No, really. A commission.
US President Barack Obama signed an executive order on May 21 creating an independent commission to investigate the Gulf of Mexico crude oil spill and offshore exploration and production. He named former US Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and former US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator William K. Reilly as its co-chairmen.
“While there are a number of ongoing investigations, including an independent review by the National Academy of Engineering, the purpose of this commission is to consider both the root causes of the disaster and offer options on what safety and environmental precautions we need to take to prevent a similar disaster from happening again,” the president said on May 22 in his weekly radio address.
Meanwhile, in the Gulf, oil continues to spew, wetlands and marshes are endangered and the EPA is yelling about the toxicity of the dispersant – like the oil will be good for sea life. And Ken Salazar is making noises about “pushing BP out of the way.”
And then what?
Even Daou has picked up on the problem:
Leadership is virtually non-existent. Blaming BP for being greedy and destructive is the least we should do, not the only thing we do. We need to turn the tide once and for all against those whose ideological rigidity is ravaging the planet.
Of course, he and I differ on his plan of action, but we certainly agree on his contention that “leadership is virtually non-existent”. As it has been for 16 month. Instead we’ve gotten staged anger and finger pointing and blame shifting from the President and, mostly, other than the Coast Guard, almost nothing in terms of a reasonable and expected government response to the disaster. Daou is, rightfully I think, very unhappy with the response:
Lawmakers can say that the law mandates BP take responsibility for clean-up and costs; federal officials can list all the things they’re doing to fix the problem; President Obama can launch as many fact-finding commissions as he sees fit. But we shouldn’t be impressed that they are doing what we elected them to do – it’s their job to deal with emergencies promptly and effectively. Far more is called for in this uniquely cataclysmic circumstance: a level of outrage, alarm, intensity and focus worthy of the size and scope of the spill.
But he, and I, are not seeing it. As James Carville said, the administration is treating it as almost an annoyance, keeping them from other things they’d rather be doing.
Daou too believes that to be evident in the administration’s response:
The administration seems miffed and mystified that it is being criticized. After all, it can reel off dozens of swift actions taken in the aftermath of the spill. The White House’s defenders want the spotlight aimed exclusively at BP. But this is a situation where body language and words are just as important as actions. Scheduling an ‘angry’ presidential news conference weeks after oil started gushing into the Gulf waters is exactly the wrong thing to do. Authentic anger isn’t something you turn on for the cameras and leak to the press the previous day.
But this isn’t something new, although it appears that elements of the left are just now catching on to the act – and the lack of leadership. Daou wants to blame all of this on “Green-haters” who’ve managed, apparently, to desensitize politicians and the public to the dangers of those who would rape and destroy the planet. And he’s using this disaster to, as he says, “rise in righteous anger” in order to “salvage and protect our earth”.
It certainly seems he’s angry, and he aims at the usual suspects, but it is interesting to see his inclusion of the Obama administration as part of the problem instead of being part of the solution.
Daou is finally reduced to an emotional appeal after producing his list of those who are responsible for this travesty. Two of the bullets could have come from any green talking point list and were essentially boilerplate nonsense one-over-the-world generalizations. But three of them caught my attention:
# Democratic leaders have been blindsided by this spill, having just come out in favor of offshore drilling to appease Republicans.
# The press and punditry are busy chasing the story du jour.
# Defenders of the administration are loathe to critique it, out of a sense of loyalty.
The first has some substance to it, but it wasn’t “Democratic leaders” who came out in favor of offshore drilling (something I still support – but with the mother of all go-to-hell plans in place first), it was Barack Obama.
And that brings us perfectly to numbers 2 and 3. The reason 2 is occurring is because the media is as much a part of 3 as anyone.
Daou’s overwrought and overstated conclusion give an idea of the depth of damage the non-response may be doing to the Obama administration (remember Carville’s words) among the “green left”:
This isn’t Katrina II, it’s worse. As the oil keeps gushing and the damage keeps growing, we are squandering a rare chance to turn the tide against those whose laziness and greed and ignorance is imperiling every living thing on our wonderful and beautiful – and wounded – planet.
My guess is it will be worse unless BP has some success killing that thing tomorrow. But even then, you still have a huge battle for containment and clean up. Huge.
And where is government?