Friday, June 04, 2010

Stereotypes Emerge from BP Oil Spill

Watching a bit of a cable news show this morning, I was struck by the reaction of the reporters from interviews with some of the people working on drilling the relief well in the Gulf of Mexico to stop the oil gushing from the bottom of the Gulf. CNN sent Kyra Phillips to talk to folks there and she was surprised that it turns out people in the oil drilling business are just regular folks. Imagine that. She told anchor John Roberts that these men just really did want to stop the leak. They were working in a difficult situation and were doing the best they can. Imagine that.

That is the problem with stereotypes, you know. Hard hat does not necessarily equate to uneducated. Everyone wears a hard hat in an environment like an on oil drilling rig. A southern accent does not equate to lesser intelligence. And, as it turns out, a southern governor who talks rapid fire fast and is a the nation's first Indian-American governor is indeed ready for prime time.

Governor Jindal was written off by the Democrats, all drunk with power after the election in 2008. Jindal gave the GOP response to Obama's first State of the Union address and didn't come across very well. His on camera appearance was less than perfect, to be sure, but those of us who have watched the ascension of Jindal as a politician knew he'd be back, and prove the critics wrong. The oil spill is Jindal's shining moment.

From the beginning, Jindal has been front and center, pushing for quick action and giving solutions. He has risen as the true leader in this tragedy. The president and his smart people could learn some lessons from this. While they are busying themselves doing 'studies' to come up with solutions, Jindal is out there, walking the beaches and surveying the damages from helicopters. He is talking to everyone involved from the oil drilling people to the mom and pop owners of small businesses. This is an environmental disaster, to be sure, but it is a human tragedy.

Why would the president send Attorney General Holder to the region to meet with the state attorneys general - except for Florida Attorney General McCollom - to open civil and criminal investigations now? The first priority should be to plug the leak and let the politics of prosecution come later. The administration made a big show of delivering a bill to BP for $96 million invoice this week. That's fine but let's focus on what is important. It is important that the marshes of the fragile wetlands be protected as much as humanly possible. It is important that the oil industry be allowed to do its work and plug the leak. It is important that wildlife be rescued and protected. It is important that the people who make their livings be sustained financially until life is more normal. It is important to realize that this nation is dependent for many years to come on crude oil production and legislate a common sense energy policy.

HERE is an industry analysis of the recent moratorium on deep water oil drilling by President Obama. Moratoriums on deep water drilling and cancelling lease sales is not the way to go. Tens of thousands of wells have been drilled without incident.

For a president who claims to not be able to rest until everyone has a job, he should think of the loss of employment for thousands of workers if oil drilling is even more restricted than it already is in this country. It makes no sense to continue to pay for foreign oil from countries not so friendly to us when we have resources here. It is not just jobs on drilling rigs that are affected. It is also all the jobs of service company employees, jobs of small businesses along the coast, and communities dependent on workers living and paying taxes there.

Calling on Hollywood will probably lead to little in the way of solutions. James Cameron may know filming but he doesn't know oil drilling. The president and his administration are in full 'we are in charge' mode after a less than stellar initial response. They can continue to do all the saber rattling they want to do, talking about all the demands they are making on BP, but the fact is that they do not have the answers. The oil drilling companies have to plug the hole and deal with the future. If the Obama administration wants to take sole lead in this, then they are also to take full criticism of the failures, too.

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