Failure to Stop the Gulf Oil Gusher is Not Obama’s Katrina
… of course, Katrina was not Bush’s Katrina. The only “serious” criticism that could be leveled is that he failed for several days to read the minds of a Governor and a Mayor who couldn’t stop sitting on their hands long enough to pick up the telephone and ask for help.
But I’m risking an unnecessary discussion of events long behind us. So let’s set that aside for the moment and see if we can agree on the definition of a “Katrina”. How about this?
It is a situation in which a POTUS 1.) is aware of a disaster 2.) is cognizant that governmental resources exist that could help to abate that disaster and 3.) fails to send those resources knowing full well that they are needed and have been called for.
Clearly, then, the Gulf oil disaster fails item #2 of this test. Contrary to the observations this week of some critics (a list that includes even lefties Carville and Matthews), no branch of the United States government possesses the skills or equipment to deal with an uncapped, gushing oil well one mile under water. This is very much a specialized area of expertise.
Now, could President Obama have attempted to identify another company, possibly another oil company, and elbowed aside BP so as to give this other company a shot at stopping the gusher? Yes, maybe. It would have been a maneuver not without risk, though. If the other company had failed, for instance, could BP have claimed that they would have succeeded? What about the matter of liability? Would the president have reduced BP’s liability and placed some liability onto the US government in doing so? Certainly some high powered attorney would have so argued in court.
Another thing. Was it the height of brainless bureaucratic numb-scullery for the US Army Corps of Engineers to call for an environmental impact study before they would consider authorizing the installation of sand berms to protect marshes and other areas along the coast? No question. Several people in that agency need to be fired immediately after they complete the voluntary lobotomies that they had clearly started to undergo just prior to reviewing the application for these sand berms.
(Feel free to take a snack break here as I try to explain.)
These berms were requested, ladies and gentlemen of the Army Corps of Engineers, to try to stop some of the MILLIONS OF GALLONS OF CRUDE OIL WHICH HAS SPILLED INTO THE GULF OF MEXICO, a situation which YOU HAVE OBVIOUSLY NOT HEARD ABOUT even though for the last month, it has been COVERED 24/7 WITH BLARING HEADLINES AND FLASHY GRAPHICS BY EVERY MEDIA OUTLET KNOWN TO MAN.
(Where were we? Oh, yes.) Again, though, the berm denseness of the Army Corps cannot be pinned on the president, at least not until the Louisiana Congressional delegation started jumping up and down in unison, which is something that they did fairly late in the game.
Is the president being too cute by half about the exact circumstances of the termination of employment of Elizabeth Birnbaum, the newly former head of the US Minerals Management Service? Sure he is. And it’s not making him look good. But it, too, is a secondary matter – even if he had handled it perfectly, it wouldn’t have stopped the oil spill.
There is a very, very, very long list of fiscal, economic, sovereignty, national security and foreign policy proposals and decisions for which the president can be criticized in depth. The steadfast refusal of the mainstream media over the last year and a half to see or discuss 95% of that list makes it very tempting to jump on the president when such a glaringly visible disaster presents itself. We need to resist that, though, both in the interest of our own integrity and so as to retain credibility when we bring up the items on that extremely long list. Failure to cap an underwater oil well is not on that list.