Free Markets, Free People

Is the oil spill becoming Obama’s “Katrina”?

Yes, yes,  I know the comparison isn’t perfect – loss of life and property, etc. – but I’m speaking of it in a political sense and not making a direct comparison.  What the administration essentially ignored and then became reluctantly involved in has now mushroomed into a major political (and environmental) problem for them.

Certainly, just as President Bush wasn’t responsible for the hurricane that hit New Orleans, President Obama isn’t responsible for the oil spill (Bush is – okay, I couldn’t resist).  The response to the disasters is what they are both graded upon.  Whether true or not, the federal response to Katrina was painted in the press as slow and lacking in urgency.  I can’t imagine, given this has been going on for 36 days or so, and the seeming lackadaisical attitude demonstrated until recently that the federal response to this has been much better in that regard.  In fact, some may claim it is worse.

People everywhere are really beginning to notice – out in flyover land and among his own party’s politicians.

Right now, all hope is of a quick resolution is centered on this attempted “top kill” procedure which, if it works, will fill the drill hole with mud and finally cement within 12 to 48 hours.  I, for one, hope like hell it works.  As one of BP’s techs said, we could know it won’t work within a few hours.  So the longer we go the better the chances are for success.  But that doesn’t end the problem for the administration.  It still is faced with a huge cleanup of what has already been pumped out of the well in the preceding days.

However, if the top kill doesn’t work, then we’re probably looking at August before a relief well will be able to take the pressure off this well and allow it to be capped.  Contemplating the damage that will do – politically as well as environmentally – is mind boggling.

That brings us to Senator Ben Nelson of Florida, who today suggested that if the top kill fails, Obama needs to just shove BP out of the way and take over the operation:

“If this thing is not fixed today, I think the president doesn’t have any choice and he better go in, completely take over, perhaps with the military in charge, not because the military can do this, but the military has the apparatus, the organization by which it can bring together the civilian agencies of government and to get this thing done,” Nelson said Wednesday morning during an appearance on CNN.

Of course doing that would remove BP as the main fall guy (which they are and should be) and Obama isn’t about to do that.  But practically, if Nelson had listened yesterday to a White House press conference in which Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen was asked that same question, he’d have known better:

Yesterday may have been a day to remember in the White House Briefing Room on the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, because of a straightforward answer by the man in charge of the federal spill response, that it’s not time for the feds to take charge from the oil company.

“To push BP out of the way would raise a question; to replace them with what?” said Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen.

That, basically, is the problem the Obama Administration faces.  They have the authority, but neither the equipment or the expertice to “push BP out of the way”.  Of course no one expects the Ben Nelson’s of this world to do their homework (or realize that the Coast Guard is an armed service that is running the federal response).

In the meantime, it’s not just Republicans complaining of the poor response.  Even James Carville has had his fill.

The “political stupidity is unbelievable,” Democratic strategist James Carville said on “Good Morning America” today. “The president doesn’t get down here in the middle of this. … I have no idea of why they didn’t seize this thing. I have no idea of why their attitude was so hands off …”

Uh, it’s a leadership thing, Mr. Carville. I think Frank J summed that problem up best today:

“Plug the damn hole!” That what Obama told people the other day. Because that’s what a leader does. He yells stuff and then stuff gets done. He’s seen it on TV.


STEP 1: Yell what you want done.
STEP 2: ???
STEP 3: Things get done.

I’m not sure step 2 is actually important.

I wonder why Obama hasn’t used this power before. Like everyone wants the economy to produce more jobs, so I don’t why Obama hasn’t stared the economy in the eye and said, “Create some damn jobs!” I guess he was do busy working on his damn health care.

Anyway, a lot of people thought Obama should be doing something about the oil leak, so this is him doing something. I don’t really get that though; I thought by now we learned that if we have something really important going on, keep him away from it.


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14 Responses to Is the oil spill becoming Obama’s “Katrina”?

  • The best thing the WH and Feds can do in all of this is sit back and STFU.  I would like to know what “apparatus” Nelson thinks the military has that BP does not have access to. If BP asks for some help, by all means, jump in and keep the receipts (I’m a BP shareholder) for future reimbursement. Note to Ken Salazar (Interior Secretary what’s-his-name): Keeping your boot on BP’s neck does not allow them to work on the problem.

  • Nelson is an idiot.  he is my Senator and I wrote him last week asking if he gave Calderone a standing ovation.  He has not responded yet, but I suspect if he does, he will not address the question but rather talk about immigration.
    You are right to question who Nelson would replace BP with.  There is no expertise in the government about deep water drilling.  They would simply flounder.  Maybe they could hire Haliburton, but that is not Haliburton’s expertise either.  The expertise is with BP and TransOcean.  I am certain the best people both have are working around the clock on the problem.  We will never know the names of the people who ultimately fix this, but Nelson’s grandstanding (and Obama’s) is not helpful.  The boot should be on Obama and Nelson’s necks just to keep them down and out of the picture.  Nelson would have to go some to rise to the level of putz.

  • It is so disappointing to see that you dense righties are determined to pin everything on Obama, even stuff that’s not his fault. The oil spill was just an unlikely quantum event. It was probably caused by a buildup of negative quarks in the superposed muons on the platform. And the buildup couldn’t be observed because of the uncertainty principle. Yep, that’s the ticket.

    And don’t start up with how you’re just analyzing the politics of it, and for goodness sake don’t get into how Bush was treated over Katrina as a comparison. Only the left is allowed to use moral equivalence arguments. I decree it.

    Besides, criticizing Obama over the oil spill is just code words for your racist prejudice against him. Just like you are racist when you talk about those noble brown-savage undocumented immigrants. You white male ex-military basket cases just can’t help being racist, can you? Thank goodness I’ve grown beyond that, due to my immersion in progressive, politically correct culture in academia.

    And don’t start up with how I was racist when I said the Iraqis are incapable of governing themselves! Just don’t start. Wogs don’t count. I decree it.

    Thank goodness I have been able to catch all your coded, hidden racist tendencies with close observations over a long span of time. They provide great analysis {analysis, analysis, analysis} for the book I’m writing on how dense righties are just out-of-it troglodytes who are incapable of appreciating the beauty of glorious leftism. I’m thinking of changing the title to “Righties in the Mist: My Observations of Dense Righties in Their Natural Habitat.”

    I’ve already written the chapter on Sarah Palin and her full lips and naughty librarian glasses, and how you thick righties are completely taken in and mesmerized by her. It turned out really well. Though I bet I’ll get some more great material before publication from my comrade that reporter who moved in next door to her. But that’s not harassment of her! She deserves it! I hope he finds the kitchen redecorations she should have gone to jail over.

  • I’m going to disagree and say Obama is at least partially culpable for the spill.  Didn’t his administration give BP- a nice contributor to Baracky himself- a waiver that allowed it to drill? And didn’t they give the rig a safety award?

    Nope.  Barack takes the blame.  We’ve established precedent over the previous 9 years just how little actual culpability is needed to get blamed for something. Just following the rules

  • I am surprised no one in the administration has figured out the solution to this crisis yet, it is as plane as the nose on their face. Krugman where are you! The W.H. economic council. John Maynard F’in Keynes, Senators and Congressmen. We need to start dumping oil on the oil spill as fast a possible, for every barrel that comes out we need to be dumping a barrel and a half into the gulf. That will save or create at least double the ecosystem and marine life! They need to take action now, action is required, something must be done. Open the national reserves right into the gulf NOW the world depends on you..
    If I don’t read an article from Paul krugman tomorrow in the NYT about expanding the oil spill in the gulf then I will consider him nothing but a political HACK.
    Scott (yfi) Erb what do you think?

  • You hope it works?  Try living down here in the Gulf Coast.  I don’t even want to think about what this thing is turning into right now.
    And while I’m not exactly into bashing the corporate world, I have had it with BP.  First Texas City, now this.  That company is just begging to get cut off at the knees.

    • My brother in law has a camp on Grand Isle. He wont be using it for a long time now.  As for BP, not only did they cut corners, but I find it a bit amusing that they were the company that spent millions for a decade on advertising to try and pretend that they were not an oil company, they were a green energy company. HAH, all that PR is up in smoke.

  • Nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure

  • The kiddie klown klub on The Huffington Post is having a cow about the administrations handling of the spill. This is my answer.
    Just what do you think the President can do, wave a magic wand, then kiss the boo boo and it will go away? The truth is no President is Superman, able to leap over big problems in a single bound. No one can change the laws of physics. The reality is all that can be done is being done. Blaming Mr. Obama for what has been happening is just as useless as blaming him for the horizon’s going down in the morning.

    • The sad part is that we have yet another opportunity to explain to people that the real world doesn’t work like a Hollywood film, where the President makes a stern speech, grabs some unappreciated expert off of the street and together they save the world with a clever yet simple solution to an intractable problem.  And we’re going to squander that opportunity because it’s so much easier to simply point fingers and vent anger.  There may be some satisfaction in seeing the Finger-Pointer-in-Chief get thrown to the wolves for a change, but that just means that the next time we have a disaster like this, we’ll blame the President for not personally walking up to a leaky pipe a mile under water and jamming a boulder into it.

      • TonusThe sad part is that we have yet another opportunity to explain to people that the real world doesn’t work like a Hollywood film, where the President makes a stern speech, grabs some unappreciated expert off of the street and together they save the world with a clever yet simple solution to an intractable problem. 

        Excellent point.  The problem is politics: partisans have to talk up their man such that he starts to sound like a god, while opposing partisans tear him down such that he sounds like a gibbering idiot who shouldn’t be let out without a minder.  In the process, people get accustomed to the idea that the president CAN do anything.  Look at that fool Nelson: the president has only to whistle up the Pentagon and Hey! Presto! the problem is solved.  While I have tremendous respect for the skill of our armed forces, even the Marines.

        All that being said, I also throw in with looker: the libs spent the past couple of years building up Imeme as the ultimate Ubermensch, and it’s a grim pleasure to see him exposed as a bumbling, clueless, disinterested fool.

    • Well, he IS the Messiah.  If he can make ocean levels stop rising, halting a couple thousands gallons an hour from pouring out of a relatively small hole in the bottom of the ocean shouldn’t be hard to manage.

  • With regard to Ben Nelson, it’s a bit of a shame: I’ve never thought of Nebraskans as being particularly stupid before, but I have to start questioning my opinion of them for repeatedly sending this moron to the Senate.  Here’s hoping that they don’t repeat the mistake in the future.

    As for Imeme, shark raises a good point:

    Obama is at least partially culpable for the spill.  Didn’t his administration give BP- a nice contributor to Baracky himself- a waiver that allowed it to drill? And didn’t they give the rig a safety award?

    Further, Imeme campaigned on changing the way things were done in DC.  No more cozy relationships between DC and Big Business!  Yessir, he – unlike Bush (snarl!) – was going to start keeping a close eye on these big companies.  Regulate, regulate, and regulate some more was to be HIS policy.

    Except… he didn’t.  He essentially continued Bush’s policies, and (as shark notes) even “doubled down” with regard to this particular BP project.  The best Imeme and his gang of thugs and idiots have been able to do is weakly protest that Salazar was TRYING to refor the DC system but – darn it! – the spill happened before he was able to make a dent in things.  “A” for effort, though, right?

    But nobody’s buying it.

    So, Imeme is stuck with simply shouting to “plug the damned hole!” while even lefties are starting to wonder why the hell he hasn’t solved this problem already.  It’s amusing to me that the lefties, even while they criticize his less-than-stellar response, rush to proclaim that he’s “angry” and “sickened” and “concerned” about the spill.  Really?  And the evidence of this is… What, exactly?  That he managed to show up in Louisiana a couple of weeks after the accident?  That he chatted with somebody about it while sipping suds at the clubhouse before finishing the back nine?  That he’s gone on TV to coldly, calmly tell everybody that he’s mad? (On another note, I’ve never bought into the myth of the cool, calm, collected, professorial Obama.  Rather, I think that the list of things he cares about is very short, and what happens to America and Americans is not on it, so of course he doesn’t get mad about much of anything connected with his job.)

    The libs are reaping the whirlwind of the wind that they’ve sowed for years: the idea that the federal government can and should fix everything.  They pushed this idea fanatically during Katrina to discredit Bush, and now they’re stuck with the paradigm (that they created!) that the president has virtually god-like powers to solve any problem and that he should exercize those powers IMMEDIATELY after something bad happens (not a single sparrow falls to the ground without him knowing about it, as it were).  Even though Imeme did his part to create this paradigm, he didn’t realize that it would eventually apply to HIM.  Further, his experience (hah!) as a “community organizer” really taught him to do only one thing: demonize evil corporations as an excuse to shake them down.  So, all he can do is promise to keep his “boot on the neck of BP” and make them pay for everything while telling his doofus press secretary to tell the WHPC to lay off questions about Katrina the oil spill.  For people watching the Gulf Coast turn into a jumbo-sized Exxon Valdez accident, these actions are not reassuring at all.

  • I think you miss a key point by glossing over whether the Federal response to Katrina was fairly painted in the press. The Bush administration had worked with both Louisiana and Mississippi to ensure plans were in place before Katrina hit. People is Miss. fared much better, despite getting far more storm damage, because they followed the plan the state had develpod. All states have been told that depending on the natural of the disaster, it could take 72 hours for any meaningful federal response, FEMA trucks were delivering food, ice and water less than 24 hours after the storm passed in both states. The initial response to Katrina was FEMA’s largest, fastest response in its history.
           I think the fact that just the opposite of the truth has become ‘common knowledge’ is a large factor in why the current administration feels no pressure to act. Bush wasn’t judged by the federal response, only by the press portrayal. Since most of the press hasn’t exactly been critical of anything the administration has done, there was little reason to worry.