Free Markets, Free People

Oil spill politics get stickier by the day

The Associated Press quotes Adm. Thad Allen, the administration’s point man for the government response to the oil spill, as saying this weekend the oil spill may be with us “well into the fall.”

If so, the political news just continues to get worse for the Democrats.

Dogged by a poor economy, dreadful unemployment numbers, a simmering immigration situation and unpopular legislation, the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats are in political trouble. The last thing they needed heading into the fall mid-term elections was a disaster such as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Of course no thinking person blames the cause of the disaster on the administration, although there is an argument to be made that lax Minerals Management Services (MMS) oversight might be a contributor. However, the blame rightfully belongs exclusively to British Petroleum. But mobilization in reaction to the disaster as well as the responsibility for federal waters belongs to the administration. As many have said, rightly or wrongly, the criticism George Bush received for Katrina had nothing to do with the hurricane per se, but with the perception of the federal government’s slow reaction to the disaster afterward.

This administration is coming under the very same sort of criticism. And while the president finally seems to be getting the message on the public relations front about demonstrating more concern and urgency, he’s not getting good reviews from most observers for his handling of the government’s end of the disaster. Although he claims administration officials have been on the job since “day one” and fully in charge of the effort to cap the well and clean up the Gulf, few seem to believe the claim.

Now come the images of oil soaked pelicans and other wild life and the political damage continues to mount. Administration supporters ask, “what do you want him to do?” Critics say, “lead.” Thus far, however, little leadership has been evident.

Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley says, “there is a craving for a different kind of crisis leadership from President Obama largely because he’s so capable of it as we saw on the campaign trail in 2008,” he said. “When he lets go and talks from the heart, he’s one of the most effective political figures in modern times.”

But talking isn’t the type of leadership that is being craved by most. Action is the key. And to this point, action by the federal government is perceived to be far less than it should be and certainly less than many want and expect. Critics wonder, for example, why Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal’s effort to build barrier islands to protect the state’s wetlands remain wrapped in federal red tape after 50 days.

Some of his supporters are now urging the president to “go off,” get emotional and show some rage. Rage won’t contain the spill clear the Gulf. What is needed now is a comprehensive plan to cap, contain and clean up the leak and competent leadership to execute it.

If they don’t see that, the American people may take their “rage” out at the ballot box in November



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19 Responses to Oil spill politics get stickier by the day

  • This is getting uglier by the minute…
    That story recounts the offer by the Dutch government, transmitted within days of the blow-out, to come in with proven technology that would have done much to mitigate the oil in the Gulf.  Everybody needs to read that.  Leadership from the WH would have involved clearing away the red tape.   That has NEVER been done, as the situation with Jindal’s sand berms testifies.

    • Do you think its lack of leadership or the lawyer /academic pitfall of waiting for CYA studies to be done? Or is it all just auto-pilot bureaucracy? Its quite strange that Obama never called the head of BP. He also waited for eons to meet with Gen. McChrystal…is this a pattern or what?

  • McQPresidential historian Douglas Brinkley says, “there is a craving for a different kind of crisis leadership from President Obama largely because he’s so capable of it as we saw on the campaign trail in 2008,” he said. “When he lets go and talks from the heart, he’s one of the most effective political figures in modern times.”

    OMG.  This guy – a HISTORIAN – thinks that the ability to read a campaign speech from a teleprompter under carefully scripted and controlled circumstances constitutes effectiveness????

    Imeme had better be hitting his knees several times a day in thanksgiving that MiniTru is covering for him.  Between images of dying birds covered with oil, reports that he hasn’t even spoken to the head of BP, concerts and parties while the spill was ongoing, phony efforts to project anger, and reports of bungling, incompetence, and redtape that boggle the mind, it is clear that he is the most spectacular failure in US history.  Yet, MiniTru covers for him.  Unbelieveable.

    • DUDE- That was EXACTLY what went through my head as well.  That one statement is so idiotic that it obscures the rest of the post!

      The closest Oilbama came to exerting “crisis leadership” during the campaign was when he had to address the  Rev. Wright issue, basically he gave a mediocre speech that gave the media their signal to say “see, he addressed it, the issue is now closed!”

      Baracky couldn’t be bothered to get scope of the situation and make the appropriate orders. Too busy golfing, going on “date night” , singing hey Jude with McCartney, etc etc – the REAL duties of the President.

  • Some of his supporters are now urging the president to “go off,” get emotional and show some rage

    >>> But he knows whos “ass to kick” – that qualifies! Right?

  • Frankly, I think a large part of the Obama blame is silly, but I also felt the same way about Katrina & Bush.
    The best part now is watching those who were pointing fingers during Katrina getting their due.
    What goes around comes around .. in spades.

    • Obama isn’t to blame for the blow-out…nor is he to blame for the inability to tame a wild well.  He IS to blame for the feckless, dithering response.  He is the HEAD DUCK; he spent five fortunes on getting his slats in that chair, and now he is showing us how correct we were to fear his capacity, or lack thereof.  And he’s DIRECTLY responsible for the counter-productive crap that the government has done that has needlessly protracted and made this discharge much worse.

  • I’m going to reiterate here what I have said in the past several times. The left does not understand true leadership and thus cannot figure out what President Obama should be doing. All they know is that he’s not doing it. Brinkley’s asinine “he makes good speeches and campaigns well” line is exhibit A: he really thought that was leadership. Exhibit B is the “get mad and go get them” from Spike Lee and Bill Maher. They think that’s leadership.

    See, all the things that make up a good leader are the things they hated in President Bush and continually mock. Its strength, authority, confidence, it is a certainty of a path to take and calling others to follow. Its what the left calls “arrogance” and “cowboy” behavior. Its largely masculine, which they fear and despise.

    So they recognize the lack of leadership but aren’t sure what that really consists of, and are calling for all kinds of other things instead. And President Obama is demonstrating inescapably that he’s no leader at all. In fact, he’s demonstrating he has a lot more in common with the hapless wretch Clancy wrote about as president in Sum of All Fears than anyone else I can think of.

  • When the heat fell on Bush post-Katrina, he did not go on TV promising to kick someone’s butt. He was a very mature politician. Obama is not. He gave the impression that it is BP’s butt he will kick. He has spoken that he will make BP  pay for every dime of damage caused across several Gulf states. But he can’t, can he? He has said  that he and the administration was in charge “from day one”. If so, he should take himself to court. Everybody knows that he, personally, Rahm Emmanuel, personally, and the Dems in general are in hock to BP’s dollars. Everybody also knows that Americans outnumber Britishers two to one in BP. And that Lousiana’s very life blood depends on the oil industry. Now, it tranpires that the bill Obama is drafting to raise the oil spill liability to 10 billion dollars won’t apply to the current mishap, but only on future spills. It won’t pass the Senate but hey, what the heck, it’s good politics.

  • Christoper Taylor and shark both hit a central issue: the left either doesn’t know what leadership is or else they are so desperate to cover for the incompetence of Imeme that they’ve reduced “leadership” to making even a half-a** speech.  As shark writes re: Rev. “G-d damn America!” Wright, Imeme “gave a mediocre speech that gave the media their signal to say ‘see, he addressed it, the issue is now closed!'” I think that’s been the driving motivation behind his pathetic efforts to project anger: his cheerleaders, faced with the fact that he’s not doing ANYTHING to solve this problem and, in fact, doesn’t even seem to care, is telling him to give them SOMETHING: “Look, can’t you at least PRETEND to be angry so we can have some reason to tell the sheeple that you’re not a totally incompetent, apathetic boob?” What’s the next step to lower the bar even further?  “White House sources tell CNN that President Obama today expressed his concern over the Gulf oil spill by not finishing his morning cup of coffee, clear evidence of how seriously he takes this crisis.”

    Speaking of incompetent and apathetic, the latest excuse from the White House is that Imeme hasn’t even bothered to talk to Tony Hayward because “he’s JUST the CEO, and the board of directors really runs things”.  This is stupidly transparent in several ways:

    1.  Imeme didn’t seem to think that CEO’s were mere figureheads when he was personally lambasting the CEO’s of banks and other financial institutions a year ago;

    2.  Imeme didn’t seem to think that the CEO’s of Chrysler and Dodge were mere figureheads when Uncle Sugar got into the car business a year ago;

    3.  Is there anybody else stupid enough to think that the CEO of a major corporation doesn’t have considerable authority?  Tip: this is WHY companies have CEO’s, COO’s, CFO’s, and the like: the board DELEGATES authority to them;

    4.  Even in many non-democratic countries, the head of state doesn’t wield sole power: he has to answer to some larger group (Politburo, senior members of his party, etc.).  Are we to believe that Imeme will never negotiate with any head of state because they don’t really run the show in their own countries?  I’m thinking not, if for no other reason than it would remove one excuse to have lavish parties State Dinners;

    5.  Should other countries bother to negotiate with Imeme?  After all, treaties have to be ratified by the Senate, so by his own (ahem) logic, there’s no point in talking to him;

    People joke about missing George Bush.  Hell, I’m starting to pine for the decisive, sensible leadership of Jimmy Carter!

  • Blame?  It’s not Obama.  It’s not BP.  It’s in the mirror.  I share the blame.  I demand oil to heat over 3000 square feet, travel often to Europe on big jets, take an SUV camping on weekends, and live this energy-dependent lifestyle without regard to the cost.  BP and others are just supplying that demand.   This kind of disaster makes me think that rather than play cheap political blame games, I have to look at my own habits and lifestyle and make some changes.

    • “Three days after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, the Dutch government offered to help.
      It was willing to provide ships outfitted with oil-skimming booms, and it proposed a plan for building sand barriers to protect sensitive marshlands.
      The response from the Obama administration and BP, which are coordinating the cleanup: “The embassy got a nice letter from the administration that said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’” said Geert Visser, consul general for the Netherlands in Houston.

      Apparently, so did Norway.
      The excuse is that foreign ships are not permitted to do this type work in U.S. waters, due to the union protecting federal Jones Act. Oddly, after Katrina George Bush suspended the Jones Act to permit foreign vessels to aid in the recovery effort.

      For want of a union, we lost a Gulf.

      • You really think a couple foreign ships could have somehow contained everything?  That’s absurd.   Sand barriers might protect a few sensitive marshlands, but we’re talking the whole gulf coast!   The ships would have been meaningless.

  • And a fine point the President forgets – BP represents people in other countries…or their investments at least…..

  • Obama has no executive experience. He is just running true to form. He’s trying to vote present but it won’t work this time. “Our boots on their neck”. Sure.

  • There are many methods for extracting oil from tar sands and tar sands don’t always exist on the surface, such as in Alberta Canada where the sands are too far below the surface for open pit extraction.

  • This entire oil issue is a shame. I wish BP gave a crap about the spill.