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.

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David P
David P
11 years ago

It seems to me that conservatives are philosophically inclined to cut Obama some slack on the BP oil leak since we recognize that there are many things that are just beyond the control of government. In fact, as the Army Corps of Engineers has demonstrated so dramatically, sometimes government actively interferes with finding solutions to a crisis.
It is progressives whose policies rest upon the assumption that governmental competence and effectiveness are virtually unlimited. Unfortunately for President Obama, his ego will not allow him to admit that his role in this matter is pretty much limited to watching BP try to fix its own mess so he ends up cooperating with those who seek to blame him.

Rasputin
Rasputin
11 years ago

Does anyone else besides me ever get tired of Monique’s incessant sarcasm?

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

I’ve watched in detached interest as the progressives blame every single environmental problem caused by the private sector on free markets and unregulated capitalism. As if there are no environmental regulations already in place, and as if government would run everything perfectly and without any accidents if we only granted it more power. I’ve yet to hear them acknowledge the fact that the US government is the worst polluting organization in the entire world.

Tim
Tim
11 years ago

Peggy Noonan has a brilliant column along these same lines.
http://online.wsj.com/article/declarations.html
As I’ve been saying for quite awhile now Obama will never be able to remove the oil stain from his hands.
The Layabout in Chief will never overcome the political damage done by the shocking indifference he has shown towards an ecological (and economic) disaster heading for our Gulf shores.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

“Layabout-in -Chief”LOL.
Very accurate unfortunately.Always has that cocktail glass raised,doesn’t he?He’s a dilettante who got handed the Whole Enchilada by a duped electorate.
Hope those that voted this nincompoop in are happy.
His handlers sure are.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Whether it is fair to blame “Progressives” (formerly “Liberals”) for blaming Obama is an open question in my mind.
Our Presidents campaign on the idea that they can, and will, do anything. Those unsophisticated about the nature of our government tend to believe this. In truth, the powers of the President are severely limited, and some of us believe that is how it should be.
While I don’t know what Obama could really do, I think it politically unwise for him to be taking a vacation at the moment.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

The “do-nothing” presidents blasted by historians are my favorites. I’d love to have a do-nothing president for a change.

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
11 years ago

Obama is the biggest fraud ever foisted on the American public. He is a smug, arrogant jerk. What would you expect of an affirmative action pick for president?

David S
David S
11 years ago

“Layabout-in -Chief”LOL.
Very accurate unfortunately.Always has that cocktail glass raised,doesn’t he?He’s a dilettante who got handed the Whole Enchilada by a duped electorate.
Hope those that voted this nincompoop in are happy.
His handlers sure are.
Posted by joe bernstein at May 29, 2010 12:50 PM
Yeah. He reminds me quite a bit of Reagan. Same style. Let those Republican governors in the gulf states that have been so cozy with BP and the oil industry stew in their own juices. Too bad that additude is ( our political culture) what passes for governence.

Ken
Ken
11 years ago

“Drill, Baby, Drill!” was a 2008 Republican campaign slogan originally used at the 2008 Republican National Convention by current RNC chairman Michael Steele. The slogan expressed support for increased drilling for petroleum as a source of additional energy. Sarah Palin has also used the slogan “Drill, Baby, Drill!” during her Vice Presidential bid and the Tea Party has used “Drill, Baby, Drill!” In 2010 the Republican slogan has received renewed attention because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a major oil spill at a BP offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill is causing extensive environmental damages and economic losses estimated in the billions of dollars. It is estimated 19,000 barrels (798,000 gallons) of oil are spewing into the gulf every day making this disaster perhaps twice the size of the Exxon Valdez incident or maybe the largest oil spill in the world. As of today May 29, 2010 it has been 40 days since the oil well catastrophe and BP has made 4 major attempts to stop the leak which have failed (modified blowout preventer manual activation, “top hat”, siphon pipe and “Top Kill”). They are now getting ready to try a modified “top hat” to stop the flow. Monique is correct in her assessment that the USA government does not have the specialized training, manpower nor equipment to take over control from BP nor assume the liability of the spill by pushing BP out of the way and bringing in another offshore oil drilling company. At this point I don’t think any of the other oil drilling companies wants to get involved and assume liability. The relief well being drilled is only 50 days from reaching target. However, Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be very active this year so expect the weather activity to… Read more »

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Let’s sit back a second, try the decaf and think about this.
We have had one oil spill out of how many wells?
How often do planes crash, do we ban airplanes?
How many people are killed in car crashes, do we ban cars?
People die in natural gas explosions, have we banned natural gas in homes?
The answer to all the above is no. Have we regulated them, yes. But, people are still killed. They all continue because they are deemed necessary.
We need the oil, our economy, our way of life depend on it. There will be problems. Deal with it. Tolerate the people with oil stains on thier face, in sympathy with the wildlife. I wonder where they got the oil.

Ken
Ken
11 years ago

Warrington Faust, More people die in the bathroom than any other place in the United States per year. I know 12 people in my circle of friends in RI that died there! So think about it as you sit too long reading!!! The State of Hawaii was selected by President George W. Bush to be the test model for lowering carbon foot print in the United States working with Department of Energy and to be a model to the rest of the state in the nation as to what does and does not work. Hawaii is the most oil dependent state in the nation importing 90% of its energy needs via imported oil. Hawaii pays some of the highest gasoline and electricity costs in the nation. State of Hawaii has set a goal of reducing oil imports by 70% by year 2030 via 30% state-wide alternate energy use and 40% energy efficiency. Offshore wind farms are not an option in Hawaii due to the high cost of that energy and destructive nature building the supporting towers. Hawaii chased what was to be the first in nation offshore wind farm out of the state back to the mainland! All other alternate energy system already in use, in design and in exploration is fair game in Hawaii as if it is currently on the table or in design or being explored it is currently in some type of test in Hawaii. One island is already up to 40% alternate energy supplied and two more islands are moving to 100% alternate energy. Private companies, shopping centers, private residences, state and local government, military and local public utilities are applying common sense alternate energy applications to reduce energy costs and increase energy efficiency. The city of Honolulu has started replacing outdated buses with energy… Read more »

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Does EVERYTHING need to be politicized?
This is an engineering problem and a lot of energy is being expended on blame.
Maybe we could stuff the leak with “pundits”.Their swollen heads should do the trick.
When did we start using “pundit”,an abominable word,or “wonk”?Before or after “gravitas”?
Oh yeah,and who’s tired of heraing “out of context”?

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

I’ve been “out of the box” in my approach to the world since I was born feet first.

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