Friday, May 28, 2010

Comparing BP's Oil Spill and Hurricane Katrina

It was wrong for the Democrats to lead the charge that the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and the long, slow response to help the people in the path of the storm was all the fault of George W. Bush. Likewise, it is wrong for people to lay the blame for the slow response in capping the oil spill at the feet of Barack Obama.

That said, it is not unusual for people to respond to reactions by the most powerful man in the world as he deals with disasters. Those criticizing the slow reaction of George W. Bush have some ground on which to stand. The picture published of him looking out the window of Air Force One as he flew over New Orleans was an incredible blunder. And, whomever advised him to not stop in, say, Baton Rouge to talk to the people on the ground right away poorly served the president. Barack Obama criticized Bush as loudly as any other Democrat looking to make political points, not help the people needing it. Bush did go several days later and make an impassioned speech in Jackson Square to reassure everyone that the federal government was doing all it could.

Barack Obama didn't go to the Gulf coast for two weeks after the Deepwater Horizon exploded and the lives of eleven men were lost. He has let three more weeks go by before his second trip to the region. And, most think it is only because he has come under fire for his perceived negligence. In politics, perception is everything. This president was touted as Mr. Cool and Calm as he campaigned for the office. We were all expected to fall for the narrative that this is the preferred personality of a great leader. Maybe. But experience matters, too. The fact is, Obama's administration was slow to react, maybe not fully realizing the severity of the disaster. But, for a president who strongly believes in the power of the government running as much of our lives as possible, it was odd that he left so much to others initially. Now he is playing catch-up, even holding his first press conference at the White House in over 300 days. And, he still blames the previous administration for as much as possible.

The Washington Times editorial refers to the oil spill as Obama's 'Oily Katrina'.

Agree or not with the politics of Karl Rove, no one denies he is a plain talker and will cut to the heart of a situation. Here is an except from an article in the LA Times online:

Now, Rove on Democrats trying to blame George W. Bush for last month's oil spill, as The Ticket revealed here Tuesday:

"Obama Administration officials last year short-circuited the process and allowed Transocean and British Petroleum to drill this well to put this unit at the place that they were drilling and to do so without full environmental review and a full safety review.
It was Obama Administration officials.
Chris Dodd, you know, is reaching back. I wish he knew the facts. He clearly knew that facts when he got that improper mortgage from people he was writing legislation benefits for, but he doesn't have the facts known here.
In fact, it was on the front page of the New York Times....that the decision to allow this rig to drill in this place was granted last year with expedited approvals without a full environmental and safety review by Obama Administration officials.
And, finally, Rove on presidential behavior:
Look, the American people don't elect a president with the hope that he's going to spend most of his time blaming his predecessor. They elect a president to get things done.
I think it hurts President Obama. It makes him look weak. You know, this constant 'poor us, we were handed a bad thing, all the problems are the problems of the previous administration.' You know, look, when Bush came into office he had a recession.
You didn't hear Bush go out and say, 'Well you know Clinton, the stock market peaked in March of 2000. NASDAQ lost 50% of it's value. We were headed to a recession and it's all Clinton's fault and we are cleaning up after the Clinton mess.'
The American people don't want to hear that. So, look, that's fine if they want to do that because I think it hurts them. It diminishes them. It makes them look weak and pitiful and that's not what the American people want.
The reason why the President has such a low approval rating when he should have high ones, is because of the way he conducts himself in office."

Elizabeth Birnbaum, Director of Minerals Management Service, has resigned as a result of the oil spill travesty. She blames the agency she "inherited" in need of reform. Of course she does. The "inherited" excuse is prevalent with this administration, from President Obama on down. He says the word so much that the thought must run through the minds of his employees. Read her self-pitying resignation statement HERE. The odd part of her resignation is that President Obama was in the dark about it as he said in the press conference held yesterday. He said he didn't know if she resigned or was fired. This from the man who was trying mightily to convey the message that he was in charge of the disaster response.

Also, this tidbit emerges from Birnbaum's testimony before Congress: inspectors at MMS are unionized. HERE is the story of the last inspection of the Deepwater Horizon. Quite a cozy little corrupt set-up there.

President Obama has photo ops and interviews galore to account for his whereabouts and his agenda this last month and more since the Deepwater Horizon exploded. He's had date nights with his wife, vacation trips, interviews for sports shows, golf games, basketball games, a White House Corespondents dinner, a State Dinner, and graduation addresses. All standard stuff, to be sure, but hardly the appearance of the man who says he 'won't rest' until the oil spill is plugged or until everyone looking for a job has one. Words matter. An interesting twist is that now even the most ardent ideologues from the Democratic party are loudly voicing displeasure of how the president is handling this environmental and human crisis.

Sometimes criticism is legitimate.

1 comment:

nicholas said...

"He said he didn't know if she resigned or was fired. This from the man who was trying mightily to convey the message that he was in charge of the disaster response. "

Fully in command and in charge - since Day One. But then goes on to say that BP let him down. And it was his fault that he believed them.

He speaks of being in charge and taking responsibility, but it plays out as him just blaming others again, which brings to mind the immortal words of Inigo Montoya

"You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means."

Good post.