Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Oil Spill: Obama Needs to Learn to Put On a Bigger Show

Gawd! I watched Anderson Cooper 360 late last night, and so, I went to bed with this oil spill. I dreamed about the Gulf Coast dying, and awaking this morning, I said I would ignore this catastrophe today.

Yes, I'm making headway on my novel, and that's a good thing, but I could not ignore the news that President Barack Obama is tripling the labor on oil spill clean-up and "vowing to pursue criminal inquiries into BP's oil leak. He's also vowing to change some laws.

The New York Times reports:
"We have an obligation to determine what went wrong," Mr. Obama said, appearing in the Rose Garden after meeting with the two men he has appointed to lead an inquiry into the cause of the spill, former Senator Bob Graham of Florida and the former Environmental Protection Agency administrator, William K. Reilly. "If laws were broken, leading to death and destruction, my solemn pledge is we will bring those responsible to justice."
I don't want to rehash in detail the growing frustration people feel toward the Obama administration except to say that in the first few weeks he received high marks, but now, as the oil slick gets wider and people become more aware of MMS dysfunction; as talk of oil plumes circulates; as understanding settles that the spill will be with us all summer; as his allies like Louisiana resident James Carville go on TV shouting that Obama's not taking charge of the crisis; plus a key endorser, Gen. Colin Powell, openly advising him to step it up; and as Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal grows his political footprint as the strong Republican leader who used to call for no federal government interference in state affairs but is now demanding federal government strong-arming to address this environmental crisis, Obama's in hot, oily water.

Feeling the heat, I guess he wants to strangle BP. Many people here in Louisiana, like those who protested in Jackson Square Sunday, and others throughout the country would gladly help him do that. One group wants the federal government to seize the British oil company's assets.

So, Obama is between the proverbial rock and a hard place. If he murders BP and the economy plummets further into the abyss, he'll be blamed for that. If he tries to be BP-friendly in solving this problem, as more birds die, more fishermen come up empty, more oil contaminates shrimp and oysters and we see it ooze across our coasts and into the marsh, he'll be blamed for all that as well.

I think the president should fake effectiveness, give the people some theater, look busy, send the military to the coast so it looks like we know what the hell we're doing and have a hope in hell of fixing this ecological disaster. It's important to look like we have a hope of wining even when we don't have a prayer.

That's how former president George W. Bush kept his supporters happy. He may have been dumb as dirt on a boatload of issues, but he put on a good show of looking like he was taking charge, except in the case of Katrina. He didn't look like a leader in that crisis until he was pressured to do so. But Bush knew that people like to see you look like you're working hard even if the work you're doing does no good. His supporters even excused his taking excessive vacations because he fit the image of what they think is a good leader--folksy swagger with I'll-do-it-my-way, shoe-ducking moves.

Obama's biggest mistake is that after doing so much to woo people with symbolism and imagery during the campaign, he's forgotten the power of symbolism and imagery while in office. He's like a man who stops romancing his wife after the honeymoon and so loses her affection.

People can't see long-term solutions bearing fruit immediately, and so, they need dog and pony shows in the meantime. He should remember that if he hopes to serve a second term.

We are f**ked on this oil spill. It's 21 years since the Exxon Valdez and Alaska fishermen still struggle. We were f**ked the day the rig exploded in April, and 11 men died, and when the leaks began shooting oil from beneath the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. Yes, we have to do what we can. Like a valiant soul with terminal cancer, we must persevere. Sure, Obama should kick BP's behind however the federal government can and send an army to beat the oil slick, but make no mistake--we are f**ked.

1 comment:

Gena said...

This is why Californians did not want oil wells any place near our shores. We knew this would happen.

We knew it 30+ years ago. But the short term thinkers can't grasp long term implications of bad decisions.

This is what we as a nation asked for and this is the consequence. Where the hell is those "Drill baby Drill" clips now?

Not that I want to see them. Cuz I don't.

I can't let Prez-O entirely off the hook on this one. He did sign off on expanded off-shore oil drilling.

Other states begged him to allow them to do it. From the thought to the word to the deed.

One of the ways he could recapture leadership is by direct citizen involvement.

If he could find some non-toxic or non-litigious way to help the country feel like it is doing something beyond partisanship that could work.

Otherwise dude needs to make out like Shane or Billy Jack.