Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 16, 2010

OBAMA'S CALL TO ARMS.... If the media's and pundits' reactions to President Obama's Oval Office address are intended as a guide, I'm apparently supposed to be unimpressed. Maybe I approached the remarks with lower expectations -- it's not as if Obama was going to announce that everything in the Gulf is suddenly fine -- but I thought the speech got the job done in a workmanlike kind of way.

In the larger sense, the remarks were intended to serve several purposes: tell the nation about the status of the response; commit to following through for those affected; pledge accountability for those responsible; present a vision for the road ahead.

If that's the checklist going in -- and for me, it was -- I'm inclined to put a check next to all of them.

We heard about the development of "a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan," and the efforts of the commission to "understand the causes of this disaster and offer recommendations on what additional safety and environmental standards we need to put in place." We heard about the fund BP will have to pour money into to help put things right. We heard about cleaning up Bush-era corruption at the Minerals Management Service. We heard that "one of the lessons we've learned from this spill is that we need better regulations, better safety standards, and better enforcement when it comes to offshore drilling."

I realize that government plans, agencies, and committees make for underwhelming rhetoric, and are awful vehicles for a stirring address that gets the crowds on their feet. But this is what governments do. It's what the administration has to do to mount an effective response to the catastrophe.

Of course, the portion of the speech that was the longest, and the most closely watched, dealt with the future.

"For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we've talked and talked about the need to end America's century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again, the path forward has been blocked -- not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.

"The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be right here in America. Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. And today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude.

"We cannot consign our children to this future. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America's innovation and seize control of our own destiny. [...]

"Each of us has a part to play in a new future that will benefit all of us. As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs -- but only if we accelerate that transition. Only if we seize the moment. And only if we rally together and act as one nation -- workers and entrepreneurs; scientists and citizens; the public and private sectors."

The policy details were lacking, and that seems to be a driving factor in much of the criticism. The president didn't specifically call for a cap-and-trade system, though he praised the House bill that "finally makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy for America's businesses." The speech didn't mention global warming at all -- which was almost certainly a mistake on the White House's part -- but Obama framed the problem in a way that was most likely to resonate with the public.

This part of the speech concluded with a demand that inaction is not an option. It gave the impression that the president would accept almost any bill that represents even a modicum of progress, but that's probably because the president really would accept almost any bill that represents even a modicum of progress.

Besides, this wasn't exactly a break with Obama's m.o.

We saw the same thing during the health care debate. The president sets out a larger vision, signals a willingness to compromise, adds a sense of urgency, and calls on legislators to fill in the gaps and do what they're supposed to do.

The House has passed its bill; the Senate can pass its version; and the president will try to get something he can live with in conference. There are worse plans.

Will last night's address change the trajectory of the national conversation? I rather doubt it. But as Chris Hayes reminds us, the White House doesn't have a message problem, it has a fact problem. The speech wasn't going to plug the well or change votes on cap-and-trade; it was going to keep the ball moving forward.

It seems to have done just that.

Steve Benen 8:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (43)

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Comments

I guess the pundits did not want a serious fact check and information from the President, I think Matthews of MSNBC would have liked a bullhorn!
How impressive would that have been!!!

Posted by: jJS on June 16, 2010 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

I disagree that it was a mistake to leave global warming out of the speech. As a lonely progressive in South Carolina aka The State of Insanity, I know plenty of hard line Red Staters who are actually on board with the idea of taking large steps (one hesitates to use the overworked Manhattan Project metaphor) toward clean energy/energy independence because they do get the idea that this will stick it to "the bad guys", and they like the sound of not sending billions of dollars overseas. They will argue with you all day about the weather, however.

Posted by: bluewave on June 16, 2010 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

Had Obama given last night’s speech in the first week, I’d understand, but we’re eight weeks into this thing.

Fifty-three percent (USA/Gallup) already rate his handling of the incident as poor/very poor, and each new report of oil washing up onshore only reinforces the perception that the government’s response has been ineffective.

What was needed last night was a demonstration that government can be effective in responding to a crisis, not through promises of what will be done - or what needs to be done in the long-term -- but through immediate actions that make a difference that the public can see on their TVs.

When someone is bleeding, you don’t hire architects to design a new hospital or announce a commission to study the comparative effectiveness of coagulants, you stop the bleeding using whatever resources you have at hand.

Eight weeks later the bleeding continues.

Posted by: beep52 on June 16, 2010 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

Nattering Nabobs of Negativism. Seriously chris Matthews ranting with spittle coming out of his mouth. Solves a lot of problems. They still want to see Obama on top of the desk jumping up and down. He is the CEO of this country , I don't want a showboater or a befuddled doofus like Bush running the show. No drama Obama - I like it that way. As said below maybe you would prefer Gramps and Barbie , Why I bet President McCain would have cancelled his campaign to go to the Gulf and roll up his sleeves and he wouldn't have been wearing any "fancy pants" he would have worn fatigues.

Posted by: John R on June 16, 2010 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

I suspect that one of the new point criticisms of Obama is now going to be that he's a scold like Carter.

One radio host I listened to this morning was doing the old "Carter may have been right but he was so moralistic and boring that no one could be expected to listen" thing.

These people still prefer to have Reagan lead them down the wrong alley.

Posted by: howie on June 16, 2010 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

The White House plan is for the Senate to pass an Energy bill in July.

There will be a conference between the House and the Senate bill with a vote AFTER to the election.

Posted by: Michelle on June 16, 2010 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

I, for one, am thankful that there were few policy details. In fact, Obama should be receiving praise for leaving detail out of the speech.

Had he spoke to policy details, we would have been treated to endless stories of how boring "Professor Hussein" was last night. And/Or, how he uses long dull words and speaks in a language only elitist, non-American, Harvard types can relate to. Now we'll only have endless stories of how his speech lacked any substance. Those I can ignore.

Posted by: Perspecticus on June 16, 2010 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

howie, Obama as a scold is not new. A guy at my work has been saying that since the inauguration.

Posted by: Perspecticus on June 16, 2010 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

Let me guess... the folks who see Obama as a scold are also avid church goers. The hypocrisy continues.

Posted by: jP on June 16, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

For the joke of the day, go to Political Carnival and watch Palin giving her expert opinion to O'
Reilly about Obama's speech. I have not been able to watch this crazy woman for about a year now, I guess I thought she would have changed but when asked a specific question she cannot give a straight answer but rambles on and on trying to sound like the expert she is not!

Posted by: jJS on June 16, 2010 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

jP: No, some of them are beltway partiers like Maureen Dowd, who calls Obama an elitist because he doesn't invite her to enough cool parties like the one at Biden's. Sally Quinn explained this to us some time back: if the self-styled D.C. elite get to dance on tables, the President gets good press. Otherwise, forget it.

Posted by: T-Rex on June 16, 2010 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

The immediate reaction on MSNBC was hilarious.

Watching Matthews blow a spittle-flecked fuse and ranting about amicus briefs and what not was very disquieting.

Olbermann, on the other hand, was just a nasty, angry asshole.

Fineman was official Washington conventional wisdom with the old commander-in-chief drone and how Obama "must look presidential".

I guess these guys want Obama to stomp, yell and throw a fit, similar to what they do. The only half reasonable reaction and rational take I've seen lately is Boone Pickens, the filthy rich oil man. At least he knows what the hell he is talking about.

Posted by: DB on June 16, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

-Boy, am I glad I watched the Phillies/Yankees game, instead!

Even though the Phils lost- again. . .

As for the Pontificating Druids, they seem to have gotten a better perspective, after a good night's sleep.

This druid will withhold commentary until something is actually DONE. Circa 2020?

Posted by: DAY on June 16, 2010 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

As others have noted, Obama's problem is that he can't make this better. so what exactly can he say that satisfies? He lacks the fairy dust to sprinkle on the wellhead to cap it and magically clean up the Gulf. Lacking fairy dust, or a magical wish pony, there is nothing that can be done that will make the situation suddenly better. Maybe a bit better coordination. But an oil company exec admitted that they really can't cleanup spills very well yesterday: "There will be impacts as we are seeing. We have never represented anything different than that. Thats why the emphasis is always on preventing these things from occurring because when they happen we are not well equipped to deal with them. And thats just a fact of the enormity of what were dealing with."
http://thinkprogress.org/2010/06/15/not-well-equipped/

Posted by: wvng on June 16, 2010 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

I think most of the national yakkers missed the target audience for this speech. The people directly impacted by the spill are more informed, and their misconceptions are not likely to be influenced by speeches in any event,

If the only information that I had on the spill were my local news, I would conclude two things: a) there's a big mess down there; b) Obama isn't stopping the big mess. I think this speech was designed to tell these low information citizens facts that are not generally included in their newscasts/papers.

Posted by: jhm on June 16, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

No ass kicking here. Nonetheless he went on record telling the world he is holding BP responsible for the mess, and Bushit/Darth in cahoots for the assist in what caused those twits to bypass safety regulations in the lead-up.

He looked beleaguered, tired, and a bit fed up. It's like the parent with too many mischievous toddlers. I know that comes the the job but I think he underestimated the magnitude of Bushits stupidity and that the all out assault by Bitch McConnell and Co. would be so relentless...

Posted by: stevio on June 16, 2010 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

I'm glad he's promised to make BP pay for this mess, but stating that's he's "going to have a talk" with the chairman of BP doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. What if Mr. BP chairman, in a nice way, tells the Prez to F off on putting $20 billion into an escrow account? What will he do then?

Also, 17,000 National Guard sounds like a lot, but seems inadequate given the immensity of the area involved. How about hiring every single commercial fishing boat that's sitting idle in the Gulf and pay them (with BP's money) to lay and MAINTAIN boom? How about hiring outside people to help soak it up and paying them with BP money? Inquiring minds want to know.

I agree that policy detail probably were best left out, but that detail needs to start coming out today from the mouths of the people who have been delegated authority.

I also agree the global warming was best left out of the speech. People want to know what's being done to solve the immediate problem, not the larger problem. Comprehensive steps to fix this problem move us in the direction of tackling global warming.

People wanted an FDR moment and it didn't hit the mark. What he does over the next few weeks will be critical.

Posted by: bdop4 on June 16, 2010 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

@ beep52: What was needed last night was a demonstration of immediate action? Like what? Is he supposed to show some Lego model of how to plug the hole?

Posted by: jko on June 16, 2010 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

People are tired of the empty rhetoric. Obama was never going to make the right happy, but he certainly started out with the left behind him and the middle cautiously optomistic. His inability to do anything about the disaster in the Gulf is emblematic of what little he has done as president--mostly due to a lack of courage and some deepseated need to try and work with the GOP. The BFD is his singular accomplishment, but it really satisfies no one. The war in Afgahnistan is going very badly and is now his war. Don't ask, don't tell is still the law and may change after December, Gitmo is still open, we have no effort to hold those responsible for torture legally responsible, etc. Even the stimulus package was too small and while I think the economy has generally been handled fairly well, the sad fact is that we needed more deficit spending and the Democrats are going to suffer significant losses in November because of the inadequacy of the stimulus. The question that I am hearing more and more these days is who is going to challenge Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2012?

Posted by: terry on June 16, 2010 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

I wanted more specifics on an energy/climate change bill. But it really didn't matter what he said -- Washington pundits are going to keep demanding fist-pounding, Rethugs are going to keep pitching hissy fits, and progressives are going to want more substance on the bill.

This is more than a monumental mess. The GOP Congress and the oil tag team in the White House deregulated the oil industry. The Rethugs, who usually whine about too much deficit and government regulation, are now whining that not enough is being done.

And am I the only one who's losing patience with people on the Gulf Coast who complain about the oil spill but can't wait to get back on the oil rigs? After the speech last night, NPR had some harpy who blamed Obama completely and said HE was the one who was causing loss of jobs with the six-month stoppage of all off-shore drilling. She kept defending the oil companies, saying what a good job they had done of regulating themselves, and that this was the only accident that ever occurred. (Never mind the environmental damage caused by the destroyed rigs and pipeline after EVERY hurricane, the reports of which MMS always hid but which I dug up online.) I just wanted to shake her.

THIS WAY OF GETTING FUEL IS UNSUSTAINABLE. The Gulf of Mexico is ruined for years to come.

Pardon my rant.

Posted by: Molly Weasley on June 16, 2010 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK
What was needed last night was a demonstration that government can be effective in responding to a crisis, not through promises of what will be done - or what needs to be done in the long-term -- but through immediate actions that make a difference that the public can see on their TVs.

When someone is bleeding, you don't hire architects to design a new hospital or announce a commission to study the comparative effectiveness of coagulants, you stop the bleeding using whatever resources you have at hand.

Eight weeks later the bleeding continues.
Posted by: beep52

While Obama can't magically plug the hole himself (there's a really inappropriate there somewhere), and the government doesn't have the resources to resolve the problem, it would be nice if we saw exactly what we've been screaming about for years: A motivated government, led by those possessing political courage, that proves it can be effective and can get things done, and done well.

Instead, all we've seen is the Coast Guard -- and federal gov't in particular -- bow down to the very company that created the mess. It's fucking absurd, especially since the Coast Guard is trained to coordinate disaster response--yet it didn't.

Again, I get that we need BP's (and even Halliburton's) help since they have the equipment needed to deal with this.

But the gov't should have been leading the effort, acting as the coordinator and central command. Instead, we've got people running around like headless chickens, with no one really sure of who's in charge or what to do next and where, because BP is more worried about their PR than solving the problem.

If the response had been more coordinated from the beginning, some damage could have been mitigated. That fact it wasn't is a failure of leadership somewhere along the line, and will play right into the conservatives' hands.

**sigh**

It's sad, pathetic, and completely preventable.

Posted by: Mark D on June 16, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Terry and Mark D nail it. As Benen also says .."tRhis part of the speech concluded with a demand that inaction is not an option. It gave the impression that the president would accept almost any bill that represents even a modicum of progress, but that's probably because the president really would accept almost any bill that represents even a modicum of progress.

Besides, this wasn't exactly a break with Obama's m.o."

better than Bush or Palin is not exactly a ringing endorsement. Progressives can do lots better than what we've seen out of Obama.

Posted by: gdb on June 16, 2010 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Obama is in a no-win situation right now. He can't act angry, because that would be "unpresidential" (a la his kick some ass comment). He can't act rational because that means he's not doing enough (rationality being what he was voted into office for). He can't actually DO anything about the leak itself which, quite frankly, is what the majority of the country cares about. If he were to fine BP a trillion dollars, no one would care as long as that millions of gallons are leaking into the Gulf.

So he's essentially fucked on this issue until the oil stops flowing.

Posted by: Quinn on June 16, 2010 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Steve said:
"The policy details were lacking, and that seems to be a driving factor in much of the criticism."

I agree with the poster above who pointed out how so many pundits ignored the intended audience of this speech- it is not the readers of this blog, it is that portion of the public who doesn't pay much attention, who is swayed by 30 second ads and catch phrases, low information voters.

I love to watch Olberman and will continue to do so, but I think he has gone a bit too far on this issue. The question I want answered is: what more could Obama be doing?

I did hear an answer to that question this morning on NPR- apparently there are too many people claiming authority in the Gulf and there are not clear lines of authority. The example I heard was regarding OSHA and worker safety. I would guess there are a lot more. My guess is that it is not a question of authority but a question of directing the issues to the proper authority.

I am irked by the nay-sayers that the speech did not address climate change. (Ezra Klein for example.) We have had oil issues since 1973 and the first oil embargo, long before there was any hint of global warming. Energy issues and climate change are clearly interlinked, but not synonymous. Moving away from oil dependence would go a long way to addressing climate change (so long as we do not substitute coal.) The poster above, also from South Carolina, noted that it would be easier to get people on board for energy independence than for stopping climate change. That is likely the more fruitful approach.

Posted by: KJ on June 16, 2010 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Sigh - as so many commmentators point to, the lede was buried:

"Besides, this wasn't exactly a break with Obama's m.o.

That's the problem - the M.o. ain't working. Over and over again - do the same thing - and lose both on the policy front and politically.

Look at the next paragraph: "We saw the same thing during the health care debate. The president sets out a larger vision, signals a willingness to compromise, adds a sense of urgency, and calls on legislators to fill in the gaps and do what they're supposed to do."

Compromising up front, with no signal that there is any desire to fight for any part of the "vision" just doesn't work too well.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on June 16, 2010 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

I thought the speech was quite good. I didn't need a 5-step program for every initiative. I needed to sense that action was and would be taken. I got that. Yet nearly all blogs and liberal shows attacked Obama. There is a pack mentality emerging that is reminding me of the press "talking points" during 2000 that probably did as much to defeat Gore as did the Supreme Court. Remember...Fineman was part of that pack. And what's with attacking the prayer bit at the end? I am not a religious person but I get that. America gets that. The Beltway and pundits don't. I have sent at least 25 negative emails tot the White House but I am also mindful of all this president has accomplished in a little under 18 months, probably more than any other president other than FDR. Some context please. If this pattern keeps up we will have a republican back in the White House in 2012. So how did that work out the last time?

Posted by: Keith Frohreich on June 16, 2010 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Progressives can do lots better than what we've seen out of Obama."


Really? Please point out some examples, 'cause I have yet to see where Progressives can do lots better.

Posted by: Alli on June 16, 2010 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "We saw the same thing during the health care debate. The president sets out a larger vision, signals a willingness to compromise, adds a sense of urgency, and calls on legislators to fill in the gaps and do what they're supposed to do."

If Obama follows the pattern of the "health care debate" then we will wind up with cap-and-trade being declared "off the table" and replaced with an individual mandate that requires all Americans to buy gasoline from BP.

Sensible liberals will lecture progressives and Greens who oppose that approach that they are making the perfect the enemy of the good, and are fools and traitors.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 16, 2010 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

If the response had been more coordinated from the beginning, some damage could have been mitigated. That fact it wasn't is a failure of leadership somewhere along the line, and will play right into the conservatives' hands.

**sigh**

It's sad, pathetic, and completely preventable.
Posted by: Mark D on June 16, 2010 at 10:55 AM

What damage could have been mitigated? There currently is no solution to plug the hole which is gushing millions of barrels of oil. At best you could have limited some damage to coast lines but that would amount to cleaning up your bathroom floor w/a teaspoon as your toilet over flows.

Posted by: jko on June 16, 2010 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Is he supposed to show some Lego model of how to plug the hole? -- jko at 10:21 AM

If your imagination is limited to Legos and holes, I can see why you missed the point. Let's walk through this slowly.

The people on the Gulf Coast are pleading for some help in combating the oil that washes ashore and looms just offshore. Day after day, they see nothing happening, and they get on the TV and tell that to the rest of the country. The rest of the country, after 40 years of being told government is worthless, naturally interprets this as one more example of why government is worthless.

Obama, like a lot of rationally-minded folks, claims there IS a role for government in solving our collective problems, and so his response naturally becomes a test of whether he's right or wrong. Given where we are in history, I'd say this is his primary task.

No one who understands what's going on thinks the Federal government can stop the leak. What it can do is help those pleading people in the Gulf. Throw them a bone. Give them some hope that something tangible is being done to keep that oil away from shore. Right now, they're coming up with their own solutions -- some good, some bad -- so give them a hand with the one's that stand half a chance. Workers don't have ventilators, so send them some ventilators and hazmat suits. Cut out some of the red tape that locals keep complaining about when dealing with all the different federal agencies down there. In other words, do what you can with what you've got so that when freaked out residents get on the tube, they can at least report that the feds are doing something.

Reasonable people can understand that it woulld take a while to gear up for a disaster of this magnitude when the capabilities and plans that did exist were woefully inadequate or non-existant. But we're two months into this thing and we're still getting revised estimates on the size of the leak. BP is still controlling the flow of information.

All of Obama's ideas for down the road are great, but the country needs to see those people in the Gulf standing on the beaches saying 'thank you' for the help they're getting from a government that understands their plight and is doing what it can right now.

Posted by: beep52 on June 16, 2010 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

@beep52:

When someone is bleeding, you dont hire architects to design a new hospital or announce a commission to study the comparative effectiveness of coagulants, you stop the bleeding using whatever resources you have at hand.

Sounds wise. So, what do you do when you can't stop the bleeding even if you had all the resources in the world? When someone is bleeding to death one mile away and you can't reach him except with remote-controlled robots, these "try harder" techniques probably aren't going to work. We've known all along that the only thing that's likely to work is the relief wells, which take months to complete.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on June 16, 2010 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK
Workers don't have ventilators, so send them some ventilators and hazmat suits. Cut out some of the red tape that locals keep complaining about when dealing with all the different federal agencies down there.

I don't think either of those should be part of a speech to the nation. I think people who have been critical of the speech need to realize that the government's response to the disaster is not one and the same with the speech. Settling what agency is going to handle what aspect of what's going on may be important to getting something done but it's IMHO not the function of an Oval Office address to get into those bureaucratic details.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on June 16, 2010 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

FlipYrWhig: I agree that there's little government can do to stop the leak other than help BP get the resources it needs and instill a sense of urgency. I was speaking only to cleaning up what's already been spilled and mitigating further damage.

Posted by: beep52 on June 16, 2010 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Obama unfortunately had to play politics on this oil leak. If he would have pushed BP aside on day 1 and "took over" the following things would have happened.

The right would be screaming about government overreach and the ineffectiveness of his administration (with media help), much more than they are now

BP would wash their hands of the leak and infer that they had it all under control until the "feds" stepped in and blew it.

The left would be screaming about how Obama needs to use any and all government resources (you know those government owned underwater hole pluggers that we surely have) to stop the leak, just as their doing now.

Obama's getting hit now, but it would have been MUCH worse for him if he was the lead from Day 1 and the leak wasn't plugged.

Posted by: Archon on June 16, 2010 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

For one thing 'the speech' shouldn't have been given the day before the President was to meet with BP.
He would have been on safer ground bringing something tangible to the table. like a number in an escrow account.
I think he also needs the distance to deal with as a criminal complaint.
There was gross malfeasance here, much of the evidence of this has been on the record for weeks now, starting with the 60 Minutes Report.
11 people died and the Gulf Of Mexico is in the process of being suffocated.
Some people must be brought to justice.
Further, I think the President is holding back.
I believe the damage to the sea floor is serious. From what I have read there are indications that it is more than just the pipe.
The constant lowballing of spillage, the enabling of BP's obfuscation continues at the President's peril.
The scope of the release of oil and dispersant, is much larger that people are cognizant.
http://www.zerohedge.com/article/matt-simmons-revises-leak-estimate-120000-barrels-day-believes-oil-covers-40-gulf-beneath-su
The 'clean up' such as it is will take years. Anything swimming through that crap that survives will so toxified any possibility that should be part of the human food chain goes to zero.
When the storms kick up and the oil and chemicals are atomized and become part of storm cells we are going to have petrorain drenching the cities and farmlands.
Exponentionally magnify that if it is a hurricane.
The President shoul have waited to ask us to 'pray' with a few facts under his belt.

Posted by: myshadow on June 16, 2010 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

The criticism from the progressive commentators is really a frustrated tantrum by those who are unable to acknowledge the reality that progressives do not have the votes in Congress to get what they want. It is naive and childish of them to blame Obama for that or to claim he has the power, somehow, to change the political stripes of the blue dogs. He's playing the hand he's been dealt. How well he's playing it is yet to be seen.

As for those like Fineman and Gergen, they seem to be looking for a political showman as opposed to a problem solver.

Posted by: JackD on June 16, 2010 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

The people panning Obama's speech miss who it was directed at. It wasn't directed at political wonks or pundits or even those of us who read the news several times a day. It was for the average American. If Obama had gone into details about how exactly he's holding BP's accountable, how he plans to clean up the oil, and what the new energy policy will be, viewer's eyes would've glazed over--not to mention it would've taken more than 15 minutes to give that kind of speech. Then the criticism from idiots like Matthews would've been Obama's too professorial, and because of this white people can't identify with him.

Posted by: Felicia on June 16, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Did you catch Bobby Jindal on ABC news? He was complaining that the state had to step in because the government wasn't doing enough....And ABC ran with that meme....

For this to work, somebody really does have to spell out where the oil is, where they think it's headed, and what is being done to stop it. And this has to be done everyday. Not an Oval Office speech, but please show the logic to the cleanup protocols and plans of attack.

When Jindal complains that the plan to dredge up sand to create artificial "barrier" islands took weeks to get approved--that's not a long time, but very fast for such a project. Literally developing a viable model to test it so you'll know where best to put it--if the currents undermine it or the wave action washes it away in a day, it will do no good, takes time. Getting recent, good information about the gulf floor there takes time. How about making sure you don't just direct the oil to an even more sensitive location? Should there have been a model ready to run, you betcha'. Should the state, not feds, be monitoring their barrier islands so accurate maps are available, you betcha'. For the speech, better management part ok, but on background afterward, spell out what had to be done to get back up to speed.

Posted by: golack on June 16, 2010 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

@ wvng

[W]hat exactly can he say that satisfies?

I have some thoughts about that here:

http://anticontrarian.blogspot.com/2010/06/obamas-oval-office-speech.html

Posted by: anticontrarian on June 16, 2010 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

@ beep52: Pres Obama directed all relevant federal agencies to devote all attention to the gulf coast spill on day 1. Now are there inefficiencies w/federal agencies? Of course. But any realistic mind knows that fixing them doesn't fit neatly into your demand for immediate action now.

He promised to have BP set up an escrow account and is delivering on that. Remains to be scene how that plays out but..role..gov't..check

Do you know of what can be done to keep oil away from the shore? Something that amounts to more than a band-aid on a gushing wound? There remains remnants of the Valdeez oil spill to this day. It serves no purpose to give people false hope now.

If they need hazmat suits & ventilators, then by all means that equipment should be made available asap.

Posted by: jko on June 16, 2010 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

The people on the Gulf Coast are pleading for some help in combating the oil that washes ashore and looms just offshore.

Right, Beep. Those are the same people who usually want the government off their backs. The ones who hate the government. They believe in the magic of the market place.

Until something goes wrong. Then they are whining endlessly about how the government won't help them. Well, the government is doing what it can against an overwhelming disaster and this time maybe not even the government can help them.

The folks they have worked for and supported, Big Oil, have screwed up so bad that nobody can fix it. If Obama had tried to crack down and regulate offshore drilling before the blow out, these are the first people who would have been screaming about socialism, tyranny and all that other bullshit. These folks sold their souls to Big Oil a hell of a long time ago.

So boo friggin' hoo. I hate to see what is happening, but let's not have any illusions about how the good people of the Gulf Coast think. Turns out they were wrong.

Posted by: DB on June 16, 2010 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Gosh...

Nothing says 'leadership' like calling for a "commission". [/snark]

Nothing says 'leadership' then a speech where "policy details were lacking". [/snark]

Nothing says 'leadership' on global climate change then a speech about a massive dirty-energy disaster that "didn't mention global warming at all", because what could climate change possibly have to do with an oil addiction? [/snark]

Instead of calling out his Blue-Dog Corporate pets to 'do the right thing', Obama never ever mentions that his support of Blue-Dog conservatives and his "willingness to compromise" with recklessly insane right-wing extremists is why none of his purported "larger vision" ever gets enacted.

Refusing to break with the right-wing neoliberal "pragmatism" that has stripped US of sensible regulations, made US servants of predatory Corporations (even foreign Corporations), and polluted our American shores and destroyed the livings of countless thousands of Americans "wasn't exactly a break with Obama's m.o.".

In fact, Obama's method of operation has always been to make a speech that masks his subservience to right-wing neoliberal 'pragmatism' and big-money Corporate powers and then assume that his cheerleaders would find ways to make excuses about 'what Obama really meant'.

The reality is that 'what Obama really wants is continually illustrated by his repeated support of right-wing Blue Dogs like Blanche Lincoln (and Salazer, Geithner, Bernanke, Summers, Gates, et. al) who repeatedly cripple what Obama says he wants.

The cognitive-dissonance of Obama's cheerleaders is increasingly incapable of admitting that what Obama repeatedly does repudiates what Obama SAYS.

Posted by: Annoyed on June 16, 2010 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

more Progressive candidates to run and support them when they do. Howard Dean would do for starters. With Obama, they don't have to be terrible credible. He has a primal need to compromise. Give him a vocal demanding moderate left to compromise with to balance the demands of the blue dog right and far right Republicans.

Posted by: gdb on June 16, 2010 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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