Saturday, May 29, 2010

Quick notes: Obama’s press conference on the oil spill in the Gulf


Obama held a press conference for the first time since I don’t know when. Basically, he used BP’s, so far successful, top kill method to address the Gulf Oil Spill. The press conference was typical Obama. While accepting blame, Obama also did everything he could to rhetorically pass the buck. 
The American people should know that from the moment this disaster began, the federal government has been in charge of the response effort. As far as I’m concerned, BP is responsible for this horrific disaster, and we will hold them fully accountable on behalf of the United States as well as the people and communities victimized by this tragedy. We will demand that they pay every dime they owe for the damage they’ve done and the painful losses that they’ve caused. And we will continue to take full advantage of the unique technology and expertise they have to help stop this leak. 
This is BS of the first order.  The Federal government was clearly AWOL on this disaster. The Obama administration tried to dump the whole thing in BP’s lap, so that it could stand by and with clean hands and demonize BP for political points. 

Sarah Palin questions this notion of the government being there on day one in her latest Facebook note: 
If the President really was fully focused on this issue from day one, why did it take nine whole days before the administration asked the Department of Defense for help in deploying equipment needed for the extreme depth spill site?
Why was the expert group assembled by Energy Commissioner Steven Chu only set up three weeks after the start of this disaster?
Why was Governor Jindal forced more than a month after the start of the disaster to go on national television to beg for materials needed to tackle the oil spill and for federal approval to build offshore sand barriers that are imperative to protect his state’s coastline?
Why was no mention of the spill made by our President for days on end while Americans waited to hear if he grasped the import of his leadership on this energy issue?
Why have several countries and competent organizations who offered help or expertise in dealing with the spill not even received a response back from the Unified Area Command to this day? 

Obama should have made sure that the fed was playing two roles throughout the spill. The government should have acted as both guardian and facilitator. As a guardian, the government should have kept a close eye on BP’s activities to make sure the nation’s best interests were being served. As a facilitator, the Obama should have been cutting through red tape to expedite both BP’s efforts and the clean up efforts (e.g. Bobby Jindal’s requests).

Here is where Obama does the classic passing of the blame. Of course the blame is passed to the administration’s handy dandy scapegoat the Bush administration (this time through inference). 
In recent months, I’ve spoken about the dangers of too much -- I’ve heard people speaking about the dangers of too much government regulation. And I think we can all acknowledge there have been times in history when the government has overreached. But in this instance, the oil industry’s cozy and sometimes corrupt relationship with government regulators meant little or no regulation at all.
When Secretary Salazar took office, he found a Minerals and Management Service that had been plagued by corruption for years –- this was the agency charged with not only providing permits, but also enforcing laws governing oil drilling. And the corruption was underscored by a recent Inspector General’s report that covered activity which occurred prior to 2007 -- a report that can only be described as appalling. And Secretary Salazar immediately took steps to clean up that corruption. But this oil spill has made clear that more reforms are needed. 
Well with almost a year and a half of this administration, why hasn’t the cozy and corrupt relationship between the oil industry and government regulators ended? If they can identify it, why couldn’t they correct it?

Again Sarah Palin, point out the flaws in this argument:
He suggested today that a “culture of corruption” at the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) was solely the previous administration’s responsibility and that the failure of the inspection system was a failure of that administration. That is false. The MMS has been his responsibility since January 20, 2009. 
The MMS director who resigned today, Elizabeth Birnbaum, was appointed by his administration. And the most recent inspection of the oil rig took place a mere 10 days before the explosion –also very much on his watch, not President Bush’s. 

All in all, this press conference did not do Obama any favors. What Americans are looking for now is action not rhetoric. If Obama wants to escape the Katrina analogy, then he has to make sure he and the administration stays deeply involved in the clean up process. Simply giving his speech and then walking away will not do.

7 comments:

Chris F. said...

I will admit that I was one of the many young voters that put the President in office. However, with time it seems that he has been about eloquent speeches more so than action. As a young black male I would catch a lot of flack for expressing my disagreements with President Obama. It's like he gets a pass from the black community because he's black. I dig your blog Clifton. It's nice to see someone proving that supporting conservatism is not exclusive to white males as so many say. People seem to forget that in the history of blacks, we have had intrinsically conservative views; i.e. black churches. It seems the media will have you believe that conservatism is synonymous with being racist, how lovely.

Left Coast Rebel said...

Great post, Cliff.

Nick Rowe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick Rowe said...

I have to disagree in a way you might find rather odd, but I'll try to explain.

The Obama Administration was following the protocols set in place IN ADVANCE for these types of emergencies. I do not and should not expect Obama to squat down and crap a solution to this problem. A lot of frenetic activity, calling out the entire Navy, and hiring a million unemployed people with paper towels and dish soap isn't my idea of a proper response.

The contingency plan might suck, and it might need adjustment, but that's what we've got. There are limits to what government can and should do. When we blame Obama for not doing enough we implicitly imbue him with god-like powers of intervention. He created that myth of his own capabilities and he should die by that sword, but we should not perpetuate that myth.

The Demon Rats did the same thing to Bush. Bush was following the National Response Plan for Katrina to the letter. Blanco and Nagin failed in their response as outlined in that plan. Bush had FEMA on the ground BEFORE Katrina hit. He pleaded with Nagin to order a mandatory evacuation and urged Blanco to federalize the National Guard. Both refused.

Please read Eisenhower's Farewell Address in its entirety. Aside from the quote about the Military Industrial Complex which is always taken out of context, he said a LOT about the harmful interaction of government with private companies and academia. He warned us NOT to believe government can or should solve all our problems.

Sauce for the goose - Obama and the Demon Rats blamed Bush for Katrina and now they suffer for Deepwater Horizon. So be it. But how long do we continue the charade that government (in general) and presidents (in particular) are omnipotent gods?

I would prefer Obama tell the American people, "There's not a damned thing I can do about this. I can't apply government power to stop this any more than I could have stopped the Great Chicago Fire. Stopping the leak is a matter of time and technology, neither of which I control. Cleaning up the damage will take time and money. Let's just settle down and do the best we can."

Let's attack the REAL problem: if we were able to drill closer to shore, we wouldn't have been in the precarious position of drilling a mile deep where our emergency response capabilities are limited. The notion that drilling farther from shore is safer has now been debunked.

sirknob said...

Hello all, in response to Nick Rowe, you have point, however, they did not follow the response plan. They pulled it out and were over ruled by the political appointees on what tools to impliment.
I have been warning of this type of accident for years. Not the spill, but the fire and explosion.
The Coast Guard is responsible for the lifesaving, firefighting, and crewed part of the vessel. MMS is responsible for the drill floor, drilling equipment and work crews.
No one is really in charge of the entire event. The vessel has a captain and drill manager. Both have shared responsiblities. However, only the drill manager can shut down and only the drill manager can authorize the closure of the BOP.
By the time the drill manager made this authorization, it was too late.
They were having problems with the well and should have shut it down. They did not. Time is money is and they risked lives for profit.
The drill crews are not sailors and they are not required any special training on the use of the lifesaving equipment that pertains to the sea part of the vessel.
Why do we do it this way? Because that is the way the Europeans do it. This goes back much farther than the Bush Admin.
Why do we have retired & ex-drill workers doing the inspections? Because that is the way the Europeans do it. They let the fox watch the henhouse, so to speak.
There many things wrong with the risks that taken in drilling offshore in deep water.
Now, the million dollar question. Why were we drillng so deep? Because, socilist & environuts have forced us to. They will not approve a lease unless they believe it will be too costly to go after.
We could have cheaper oil, and a much safer operation, if we were allowed to drill where it is.

The War Planner said...

Clifton..although it's a very good commentary, don't you feel somewhat embarrassed because it's almost too easy to take this clod apart?

I mean, Obama and his crowd are just so-o-o-o-o-o-o obvious.

With guys like you and responders like Nick row and sirknob, clearly Obama will have no chance if he persists inthis pettifoggery.

It's too bad there were only 48% of you guys and not 52% back in November 2008.

Bruce said...

The reason for Obama's delay in answering Jindal's requests for help should be obvious - Lindal is a Republican, and a conservative to boot. Further - he has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate against Obama in 2012. What better way of marginalizing Lindal and making him look ill-prepared for bigger things than to ignore his requests for a month - or longer if he could have gotten away with it had not Jindal gone to the media?

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