The explosion aboard an oil rig is now in its 36th day. This has the potential to be the worst ecological disaster in American history.
Despite having his typical cool as a cucumber facade, President Obama is terrified that this oil spill will not get solved. He saw what Hurricane Katrina (totally unfairly) did to the reputation of his predecessor, and he does not want to be seen as impotent in the face of disaster.
The problem is, he is.
The administration repeatedly made the point that British Petroleum caused the problem, not the Obama administration. This straw man argument (by definition alone) is phony because nobody disputed this. BP immediately admitted fault. It seemed that the president, in his typical fashion, was more interested in absolving himself and attacking a disliked opponent than working on a solution.
We still do not know what caused the explosion that snuffed out the lives of 11 BP employees (The media seems disinterested in that tragic part of the story, because “big oil” employees are not humans. Their lives are expendable.).
We will at some point have to figure out what went wrong. BP could turn out to be innocent of causing the problem. Right now the only thing that matters is that the spill gets contained.
This is where the Obama administration goes off the rails. They are getting impatient with the slow pace of the cleanup. Mr. Obama is threatening to have the government take over the operation.
No, no, no, no, no. This cannot be allowed to happen under any circumstances.
BP is trying its best, and the government is responding that their best is not good enough. This fits in perfectly with Mr. Obama speaking authoritatively on a topic he knows nothing about.
Liberals treated Barack Obama like he was God. Some still do. Can we finally admit that the man is mortal? He cannot part the seas, open up the heavens, or make the oceans recede. He cannot even bring in Al Gore to lecture the oil or John Kerry to bore it into submission. The oil is not concerned with Mr. Obama’s grand ambitions.
He is an academic. He was a teacher. There is no shame in this. My parents were teachers. On education matters, they are experts. Yet don’t ask them to understand the stock market as well as I do. Conversely, I am nowhere near as qualified to understand educational issues as they are.
Barack Obama is not qualified to put on a hardhat, board an oil rig, and solve this problem. It is not his background.
I know liberals love to swoon and croon over how “smart” he is. They then contrast it with George W. Bush, who they see as “dumb.” Well sorry to burst their bubble, but having abilities in one skill set has nothing to do with every other skill set. Michael Jordan was a phenomenal basketball player and a lousy baseball player.
Some will argue that Barack Obama has access to the best and brightest. He can just talk to the people who understand the issue best, and follow their lead.
Those people are the people at British Petroleum.
The company has every incentive under the sun to solve this oil spill. They gain absolutely nothing by delay. After they solve it, the Obama administration will put them out of business in a manner that makes Vladimir Putin and Yukos Oil seem compassionate. Mr. Obama needs them at the moment, and the moment he doesn’t, he will tie BP to the Republican Party in his next election campaign. He will end the company, and Republicans will surrender and allow it.
The government should shut up, and ask the BP executives what help they need. If that means Mr. Obama should send Joe Biden to fetch lunch sandwiches for the BP workers, then do it.
Some will say that if BP was so smart they would have solved the problem. They are trying new approaches, and if one of them works, this innovation will help out in the future.
When the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986, we did not give up space exploration. We figured out what went wrong and made improvements.
When Chernobyl happened, some nations like America chose to give up on nuclear power. This has us at a competitive disadvantage, but why let fact intervene. France continued with nuclear power.
I don’t care how blindly liberal and partisan many Obama supporters are. If I want this oil spill cleaned up, and I do, I will go with the oil executives fighting to keep their company intact.
BP is trying to save it reputation. Mr. Obama is trying to preserve his. They are worried about decades of lawsuits and going out of business. He is worried about polls.
The government cannot, should not, and must not take over this cleanup operation. They need to let BP handle it.
The president created unrealistic expectations of himself because he enjoyed the adulation. Now he is confronted with a situation that he does not know how to solve.
Some people will say that the president is not doing enough. Ultra-liberal columnist Bob Beckel asked “What would you have him do?”
That is a fair point. I am not going to criticize him for failing to work miracles. That would be unfair. Critics cannot have it both ways.
(George W. Bush was never given this fair treatment with Katrina.)
I am not going to criticize him for not fixing a problem after spending weeks saying he is not qualified to fix it. My criticism of him has been consistent, that he campaigned on being able to fix everything, bashed his opponents in an undignified manner, and acts like he knows everything. He should not try to “fix this.” He should defer to those who can, up to a certain point.
(The buck does stop with him, so if and only if BP can’t do it, he should intervene if he has better solutions. He won’t, so he shouldn’t.)
Perhaps one good thing that will come out of this situation is that President Obama will develop some humility and drop his God complex. Perhaps he will stop raking his predecessor over the coals.
That predecessor was ridiculed in a 2004 debate for saying that being president was “hard work.”
Yes, it is hard work.
Nobody is blaming Mr. Obama for causing this mess.
Yet he needs to stop blistering the people he needs…yes, needs…to fix the problem. Language such as putting a “boot on the throat” of BP is counterproductive.
Mr. Obama needs to convene with the best and brightest. They are the “big oil” people he has vilified.
They need to put aside their frustration at his grandstanding and posturing and give him honest, timely, and complete updates. However, if they do not have time to hold a press conference because they are actually working, this should be understood.
Barack Obama cannot solve this oil spill. He can interfere and make matters worse.
To avoid the perception that he is doing nothing, he can hold a press conference. Not one of his press conference where he rambles and blathers, but a real joint press conference.
He holds joint pres conferences with foreign leaders. He could hold one with a BP executive. He could state that when he spoke of bipartisanship, he meant it. He and a BP executive could both field questions about what is being done.
They might wish to consult with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who is screaming out loud what he needs to no avail.
Or the left could do what they always do. Financial criminal Christopher Dodd blamed George W. Bush and Sarah Palin, just as I predicted the left would. The public will not buy it.
EPA zealot Carol Browner insisted that the government is now “in charge.” Oh really? Does this mean they get the blame when a bunch of governmental greeniacs fail to solve a problem beyond their capabilities?
So they are in charge when it suits them but will deflect blame when it suits them.
Unlike some situations where the private sector has an incentive to engage in bad behavior, this particular incident (so nobody thinks I am advocating a blanket policy) involves the private sector desperately wanting to make things right.
This is an oil problem. Let the oil experts fix it.
This is not a time for Harvard academics to offer theories. This is a time for people with real world experience dealing with oil issues to roll up their sleeves and get the job done.
If they fail, they will be held accountable. Heck, they already will be.
Just don’t make it worse by sending white collar bean counters to do blue collar roughneck work.
Carol Browner is not in charge, unless the president says she is. He didn’t.
Mr. President, there will be a time to engage in your hobbies of hurling blame and bashing big business and Republicans. Feel free to blame George W. Bush and Sarah Palin for this crisis. You know you love that.
Just not now.
Now is a time to, dare I say it in Obamaspeak (not that he ever meant it), “come together.”
Find out what the oil executives need, and get it to them.
(Insert remark about General McChrystal and Afghanistan troops here.)
You don’t know everything sir. You don’t know the oil business.
Listen to the people who do.