Some would love to blame President Barack Obama for the BP oil spill, but realistically there was absolutely nothing he could have done to prevent it. Every time I hear people criticize Obama for a perceived “lack of “anger,” I can’t help but laugh at their lack of understanding: Putting on a show isn’t going to help solve the problem. No, actually being where the trouble is, working with state officials and making sure they have what they need to help minimize the damage, would accomplish much more. At the very least, it would go a long way toward making people believe he is doing his job.
A problem that Richard Wolffe at The Daily Beast reports is that Obama was brief and informed early on about how much of a catastrophe this spill actually was.
Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, told Obama at one of the earliest briefings in late April that the blowout would likely lead to an unprecedented environmental disaster, senior White House aides told The Daily Beast. Browner warned that capping a well at such depths had never been done before, and that they ought to expect an oil spill that would continue until a relief well was drilled in August, the aide said.
That early briefing on the scope of the spill—and enormous technical challenges involved in fixing it—might help explain the sense of fatalism that has infused Obama’s team from the start.
Little that has happened since has changed their mind-set. Now six weeks later, the president’s top advisers expect the oil spill—and the negative stories—to continue through August.
Obama knew in April how bad the situation was and yet we showed a video of Governor Bobby Jindal, in May, stating clearly that Louisiana had only received a small portion of what was requested. As if that’s not bad enough, Jindal and Louisiana were also being made to wait for approval on plans to minimize the damage.
Video reminder below.
That’s from frequent Olbermann guest Richard Wolffe. I’m not sure how to feel about this. On the one hand, no less than the New York Times op-ed page was ripping Obama for being slow off the mark in dealing with the spill as far back as April 30. On the other hand, if he really is powerless to do anything because the feds simply don’t have the expertise to cap a well the way BP does, what was he supposed to have done after Browner briefed him? He could have given a national address right away leveling with the public about the potential magnitude of the disaster — he was Captain Transparency during the campaign — but why risk that when there was still hope at the time that BP could get things under control relatively quickly? It would have been an invitation for greens to rip on him and other supporters of drilling before there was any confirmation yet that the disaster was unprecedented. He could have skipped all the happy happy joy joy photo ops at the White House Correspondents Dinner and beyond, but those are at least instances of him doing “stuff,” even if it’s really stupid stuff. Sitting around all day looking worried would only heighten the perception of how powerless he is. Weird as it may sound, rocking out to “Hey Jude” is probably better for his re-election chances than pics of him sitting at his desk with his hands folded, waiting for BP to call with an update.
Very rarely do I disagree with the Hot Air blogger, but I’m afraid I do so this time.
There was no need for Obama to sit with his hands folded comfortably on his lap, waiting for information. He could have been in meetings making sure cities and states got what they needed to deal with what has proved to be the worst environmental disaster to date. If he needed photo ops, he could have had plenty by personally sitting down with each Governor, from every state affected. He could have rolled up his sleeves, worked with them, and made sure they had all they needed.
That photo op looks far better than these below:
Or Day 4 of the oil spill crisis, Obama playing golf.
Politipage has a wonderful photo gallery from Day 1 to Day 41 of Obama’s photo ops.
Obama can express all the concern or “anger” he wants, but actions speak louder than words: the president’s response to the oil spill crisis has been sadly lacking. And that he can be blamed for.