Wednesday, June 16, 2010

POTUS Oil-Spill Speech

One wonders how long it will take President Obama to realize that he, like the Kennedys and Clintons before him, is wearing thin…actually grating on the public ear like the proverbial chalk screeching against the blackboard. In yet another speech 15 June thankfully delivered in the Oval Office since it was over in 18 minutes and there was no applause to make it twice as long, he wasted the listener’s time. But as Staff-Chief Rahm Emanuel implied a while back, never let a good crisis go to waste.

Advertised subject of the speech: the Gulf oil-spill. Actual subject: not much new, self-aggrandizement and political posturing especially concerning cap-and-tax legislation, which is now as dead in the water as the Gulf pelicans seen virtually 24/7 on the networks. Obama began terribly by asserting that the administration had been on top of the situation since the very beginning. Nobody believes that.

Item: Near the outset of the Q&A segment of Obama’s press conference on 27 May when he was asked about the government’s actions immediately after the oil well exploded in the Gulf, he answered that he called in Defense Secretary Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen to see what actions and materiel were available. That indicated how out of touch he was from the very beginning of the catastrophe. He should have called on the folks in the Energy Department, Homeland Security Dept. (especially FEMA), Interior Department (Mines and Minerals), etc. He did later, but how much later?

The president said that by the end of the month 90% of the still leaking oil should be recovered but offered nothing specific except that “we have directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology,” something BP has been doing for nearly two months. He also asserted, “We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused,” something BP has already promised to do and is doing and would have to do anyway assuming the many potential lawsuits to be filed. One wonders if Attorney General Holder will file a class-action suit to “make” BP ante-up.

The president launched into a list of statistics regarding the personnel and machinery being utilized in the spill-cleanup, but actually this sort of information has been flashed daily in the media. No one doubts that a huge gaggle of people is working and that the workers are being paid by BP to handle the crisis as well as possible, considering the dereliction by the administration in getting on top of the problem at its beginning, not to mention the governmental red tape foreclosing any fast action, such as that offered by other countries soon after the oil-rig explosion. This is not to mention the officials and others who simply took matters into their own hands and – out of desperation – started dealing with the problem without federal sanctions.

Obama said he had appointed Navy Secretary Mabus to the task of figuring out a plan as soon as possible to make everything right again in the affected states. Since Mabus supposedly has a full-time job already, is he expected to do this in his spare time? Of course, there will be yet another commission appointed to look into the reasons for the explosion and recommend corrective measures. Lawyers are salivating all over Washington. The Congresspersons are already holding hearings, as if they know enough to even ask the right questions…but they get to make those little campaign speeches in their opening statements and other statements masqueraded as questions.

Of course, another czar is in order. The president: “And so Secretary Salazar and I are bringing in new leadership at the agency, Michael Bromwich, who was a tough federal prosecutor and Inspector General. His charge over the next few months is to build an organization that acts as the oil industry’s watchdog not its partner.” One would think that a mines/minerals expert, not a lawyer, might be a better choice, but that would be too logical.

Then came the extensive pitch for the energy legislation (cap/trade) and the mention of increased costs (translated taxes) connected therewith (skyrocketing electricity costs as promised in Obama’s campaign). Oh yes…the president mentioned Katrina at least twice, perhaps to make himself look good vis-à-vis the Bush image. One hopes not. Anyway, the mention failed since the events have absolutely no resemblance in either cause or governmental action (or inaction in Obama’s case).

Near the end of the speech, the president said this: “Instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is our capacity to shape our destiny our determination to fight for the America we want for our children. Even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like. Even if we don’t yet know precisely how to get there. We know we’ll get there.” Does anyone know what this was supposed to mean?

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

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