TBD

TBD on Ning

Lots and lots of back seat drivers are popping up these day. It's understandable really, but true to form it usually doesn't help and it's so annoying. When it is your loved one that needs medical assistance, the ambulance carrying the paramedics can't get there fast enough. When it is your friend who has fallen 60 feet off a ledge in the mountains, the rescue personnel appear to be moving in slow motion. Everything takes too long. When it's your coastline that is facing an ever encroaching oil slick, whether or not you've advocated for less government or smaller government, you want immediate action. I get it. Suddenly it's not someone else far away that is impacted, it's your loved one, your friend, your coastline, your neighbors, your state, and your constituents.

Faced with a ongoing environmental disaster that no one knows how to decisively solve, and the feelings of impotence and helplessness that the situation engenders, frustration is inevitable. So too are the finger pointing that surely follows any event that no one really wants to take responsibility for.
Still, I am pleased that the president used the interview with Matt Lauer to answer his critics and push back against the idea that the administration has not been fully engaged in efforts to stop the oil gushing into the gulf.

I did not see the entire interview, but heard the president remind Lauer that the effort is not "theater," and his efforts were meant to solve the problem rather than run around failing his arms stoking the already present outrage (that has resulted in threats toward BP's CEO and his family). I'll take substance over style any day.

Obama has always been criticized for his demeanor, both by his critics (who can't stand the fact that he doesn't always "rise to the bait" and seems aloof and diffident to them) and his supporters (for much the same reason—lacking the fire and brimstone fervor that would make them feel like "something was happening"). I, for one, appreciate the fact that he remains who he is, and doesn't try to be a chameleon—changing for each audience, to "fit in." He works hard, like Clinton did, and is assembling the best and brightest minds to bear on the gulf crisis. Very few of the people who are criticizing the president have a clue what to do in light of this crisis. This is made abundantly clear by some of the solutions proposed to handle the situation, including nuclear devices (freaking nitwits).

Notice too, how everyone deflects responsibility away from themselves. While some people may acknowledge that we as a society are addicted to oil, very few will entertain any change whatsoever to their lifestyle to try and lessen that addiction—this includes extremely simple and painless measures like checking car tire pressure and turning off lights and air conditioning when not being used. It was gas prices, not environmental concerns which forced a very few people to give up their Hummers, Tahoes, and Excursions (no longer manufactured).

We have designed cities and suburbia to require automobile driving while at the same time we have been reluctant to fund mass transit in many places and even derisive about those who use it. To be sure, this disaster happened on Barack Obama's watch, but it can hardly be blamed on him. People tried to warn both the government and the public of the possibility of a catastrophic oil spill and the all too cozy relationship between the two oil men running the previous administration and the petroleum industry. The mantra then was "deregulation, deregulation, and more deregulation." The die was cast. As more and more information trickles out about the failures at BP and other oil companies, the results of that mantra combined with an ineffectual (by design) EPA and Interior Departments are becoming clearer.

Critics are everywhere, but this administration has asked for help and both the public and research institutions and universities and responded. I'm just grateful that Barack Obama is in the White House rather than John McCain (who would be 100% theater—running in different directions at the same time) and Sarah Palin (who would likely be hiding in an undisclosed location, bound and gagged so she couldn't speak to the press). Talk about a disaster.

In the meantime, I say let the president, be the president. Support him in his efforts to deal with the gulf oil spill and the people most affected by this disaster, if you can. If you can't, direct your fire to the source of your ire. The president didn't cause this event, but he seems to be one of the few who will take responsibility and stand with the people most affected by this environmental nightmare.

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Tags: America, Obama, check, gulf, honesty, oil, reality, spill

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Comment by Vernon Windsor on July 14, 2010 at 12:19pm
This president wouldn't be able to silence his critics (even those who claim to support him, evidently) if his name was Jesus Christ and walked around with a halo over his head. The title of this post speaks for itself, and you seem to lend further support. Do you or anyone else have the ability to manipulate the well bore or the geology of the sea floor to prevent further damage? If you do, have at it. If not, why would the president have these super powers. Go right ahead and work out whatever frustration you need to, but I would prefer that the president continue to govern the nation as well as he can, and let his critics continue to criticize. Clearly, nothing will stop them.
Comment by jayson on July 14, 2010 at 10:56am
Vernon,

The perception for this is on the President and his folks. Again, if the Coast Guard as directed by the President was on this from day one, I believe we would have heard and seen the proof by now. Instead we heard all the cries from Dems and Repubs, locals, and a-political types begging for asistance (booms, skimmers, sand bags, etc). If Obama's Administration was "on this" from the get go, then he'd be able to silence his critics with a laundry list of absolutely everything that took place from minute one - he's offered nothing but rhetoric and saying he's been on it. If they DID in fact do everything reasonably possible to stop the affects of the oil from the start and are now failing to communicate that, again, that is horrible communication on their part - not only in terms of defending the administration's reputation, but in terms of aiding the psychie of many who believe they were ignored and have to deal with that frustration along with their current grim reality. I think the President is far too smart to let that happen. Hence, I conclude, he screwed up his response to the spill by not jumping on it quickly enough and adequately enough from the start.

He's not the devil, he didn't cause the spill, private industry has better expertice for stopping it (although clearly, hardly anyone knows how to do this, and no matter what some critics say he was able to get a public promise of $20 billion for which I praise him. However, being honest, I can't go the next step and say he didn't react politically pointing blame at the responsible party (fine) and trying to keep his own administration from being associated with it (not fine - your shores are in danger, do somthing). It was a dangerous move that probably relied on assertions by BP that it would be stopped within days. But, it was HIS move, and now HE and his administration are going to have to pay for it. All those who are ascribing every other aspect of this are just piling on without merit and I truly believe are hoping the spill stays active until at least November. But I just don't see how the preparing for the affects wasn't a significant failure.
Comment by Vernon Windsor on July 13, 2010 at 2:52pm
You may have a point, but again I think you are talking about style and perception rather than reality. The Coast Guard was on task immediately and they are a division of the government. The idea that proffered help from other countries was turned away is a common talking point which may be partially true, but that whole situation has a great deal of complexity attached to it that few are aware of, and even fewer want to acknowledge. It sounds easy and simple, but in reality it is neither. I don't profess to know the inner workings of the White House or maritime law and code, but it is difficult for me to believe, given the people the president has in his administration, that all possible options weren't throughly discussed and considered. Thousands of barrels of crude oil pouring into the waters off your coast tends to focus the attention to a very high degree. Monday morning quarterbacking has its place in being better prepared for the future. A future that needs to include some serious regulation and monitoring of drilling rigs and some serious "woodshedding" at the MMS (a-in-the-pocket-of-the-oil-companies creation of James Watt).
Comment by jayson on July 13, 2010 at 12:52pm
Vernon, my apologies on the timing of my response - I hadn't noticed. I WILL add in response to your comments that the reason I disagreed with you from the start is the same reason I continue to disagree. I never said the President should have or could have stopped the leak. Anyone who says that is just being partisan or is, it seems, misinformed. His mistake was not acting immediately on the clean-up side. Now to be sure this is difficult as well - would 100% effort from day one have made a difference rather than getting into the game during the second quarter? It certainly couldn't have hurt and would've protected his administration from a lot of cirticism, warranted and unwarranted. I say this because it was only after the poltical fallout began rolling in during weeks 3-4 that the President really began taking charge of the clean-up. Again, immediately after the spill we were given offers from other countries to aide in the clean-up and we refused them (I believe out of political calculous), however, we've now accepted that help. And, again, as I mentioned in my prior post, unlike Katrina where the power to evacuate was a clear state and local power (one that I think Bush should've ignored and dealt with the fallout after), here the waters off the coast as they near the coast are the jurisdiction of the Feds. I.e., I wanted him to say from day one, "hey, we didn't cause this, we can't stop the leak any better than BP - they are dooing that part, but we will and are taking charge of trying every possible way to mitigate the mess and clean it up." He only did this AFTER the poltical fall out, despite his contention to the contrary. He failed to have enough to demonstrate all he did from day one, or he would have said each and everything that his administration did. Rather, there is a litany (not just refusing help) of information from all sides of the isle showing the clean-up or mitigation effort and reaction was way too slow - THAT is the failure. Because of it, whackjobs are blaming him for the spill itself and the failure to cap it - nonsense. But the other part is unfortunately true.

Lastly, I agree about your point on deep water drilling. I don't know how legitimate it is, but there are those on the right saying that environmentalists forced the drilling further offshore. Who knows? It is hard for me to trust anything I hear from any media source these days. Again, I only believe the slow response in terms of a clean-up and defnding the coast argument b/c it came from every angle, libs and dems as well as expected from the right, AND, if it weren't true, the President is too smart not to "show his work" and demonstrate to the naysayers all he and his folks did from the first second - he didn't b/c he couldn't.

Nevertheless, unlike many from the right, I am really rooting for the President to help turn things around, in the war, in the economy, and everywhere else to get this country moving more back on track from what Bush left us with.

Thanks for your thoughts.
Comment by Vernon Windsor on July 13, 2010 at 11:45am
Jayson, you're entitled to your opinion, but first allow me to point out the age of this blog post you are commenting on. Secondly, everyone wants the president to act and react as they would, were they in his place. While this is natural, I suppose, in the end, I doubt whether the result would have been any different. In the case of this president, there is an additional "calculation" that must be taken into account. First the whole jurisdiction and "takeover mentality" is a real concern. If there was something concrete that the government could have done about the gushing oil, well then, yes, he should have intervened, but there was not. The government neither had the expertise, nor the equipment to do anything about the oil spill. The end result would have been running around, full of bluff and bluster (in other words, acting like John McCain), while being totally ineffectual. Giving the appearance of "action" when no action is possible would be disingenuous at best.

The one decision I do fault the president for is allowing BP to continue to use dispersants on the well. I think that was and is a poor decision. But it goes along with the rest of this giant scientific experiment on the rest of the world going on in the gulf. Want to find fault? Try those people who insist on continued deep water drilling before the investigation into the Deep Water Horizon explosion is complete and operations on the other drilling rigs have been inspected and approved.
Comment by jayson on July 12, 2010 at 3:19pm
Vernon, I respectfully disagree with your assessment of how President Obama handled this situation.

Before you are tempted to paint a picture of me and everything I stand for, I'll tell you I voted for the man. Why? Because 1) I've never voted Republican, and 2) He was the far better choice compared to McCain.

In the case of this spill I DO believe he failed us. NOT to the extent many on the far right believe, but certainly failed to some degree. He was simply not fully engaged from the start, and if you believe he was, I don't think there is much you can point to, and certainly, despite his rhetoric to the contrary, he has never been able to point to exactly what he was doing in the first days or first few weeks to lead us through this situation. What he DID DO IMO, was play a political calculus - arms length distance siting BP as the cause and the ones who will handle the clean-up so as to keep his name from being associated with it. A better decision for our country would have been to take the political risk, and take control of the clean-up effort that was emminent. For weeks he let the Gov. twist in the wind as he desperately called for the authority to get what he needed to begin a clean-up. He said "no thanks" to the skimmers and other equipment that was offered to us by several nations which BTW we have now accepted. Had President Obama merely put his poltical meter in his pocket and tried to do all in his power to deal with the spill's impending damage, I don't believe anyone would be able to accuse him of anything but trying to protect his citizens. However, he played right into the hands of his critics by sitting on his own, until he realized the political fall out and then went rushing to Matt Lauer and to the American Public to assure us he had been in charge from the get-go. Not true - had he, he'd be able to site to numerous meetings, actions, plans, teams created, strategies, etc., etc., that took place from day 1, and be able to cite them - yet, I have still never heard any details or evidence from him about how the clean-up (certainly something he COULD have pressed from day one) was dealt with from the outset.

I think it was a bad poltical decision on his part and he is paying for it. Of course the oil spill wasn't HIS fault, neither can we blame him or this country for not having the wherewithall to stop the gushing. However, not immediately attacking the resulting devestation this would/is causing from day one, was just plain politics, and bad politics at that.

Just like President Bush didn't cause Katrina, the slow response was unforgiveable - despite it not being a federal issue. The State and local govnerments were in charge of evacuuation, but had the President been opening his eyes enough, he would've risked telling the State and Locals to step aside by day two and risk the consequences of that after more people were saved. In this situtaion there is no such excuse as a perceived or real lack of jurisdiction, just bad political calculous.
Comment by Dallas on June 9, 2010 at 6:08pm
Well said.

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