The President always reminded me a little of a small boy who has put on his father suit to play grown-up. My impression was right on the dot. He proved it in his press conference on the Gulf oil spillage yesterday (6/15/10). Barack Obama keeps pretending he is President but he is hardly fooling anyone anymore, not even himself. I am not referring to the manner of his accession to power. I have no doubt it was fair and square. Thus, I disapprove of Rush Limbaugh’s practice of referring to the “Obama regime.” The word “regime” implies a lack of legitimacy, from an administration’s origins, and a ruling clique. I wish it were so (and more on this below).
The President has ordered BP to place a large amount of money in an escrow account to compensate the victims of the spillage. Sounds manly as hell, an explosion of decisiveness, on the 57th day of the environmental crisis!
Mind you, the President of the United States does not have any such power and for good reasons. I am not even sure Hugo Chavez would have the power to do it. The reasons why Mr Obama does not have that kind of authority is simple: We are a nation of laws. The laws decide who gets compensated and in what order if there is not enough to go around. If the laws are not sufficiently clear, which I doubt, we have powerful courts able to make fair decisions and to implement them.
This is a moot point anyway and the President’s show was just that, a show for the innocent and for the gullible. First, as I have pointed out before, BP has declared unambiguously from the beginning that it’s civilly responsible. It’s not playing any games. It has said repeatedly, that it will pay. Second, and give me your attention, this is subtle:BP immediately jumped on the President’s offer. If I were advising BP, I would have told its CEO: Go along, dress in sackcloth and walk barefoot to the President with your ash-smeared head bowed and carrying a strong noosed rope in both hands. Let him mock-force you to establish an escrow account for the victims. First, right now, BP’s rep is so low, public repentance sounds like a public relations coup. Second, this may be the best strategy to avoid the full financial consequences of your technical incompetence. The escrow account will take the responsibility of compensation out of our hands. It will enable us to state truthfully: The job of paying up the victims fairly and promptly was taken from us. This short administration already has a long history of helping the guilty and punishing the innocent. Counting on its doing it again on our behalf is not a wild bet.
Absent from the speech were a small number of questions the President and his entourage must have judged non-essential, politically, environmentally, and economically:
Why refused help from a foreign experts when you have a clear majority in Congress able to change laws that might constitute obstacles nearly overnight?
Why wait 57 days to do the unpleasant but obviously effective: Parts of petroleum are volatile and can be ignited fairly easily? (Saddam Hussein demonstrated that.)
Why not rush the permission and the funds requested by the Governor of Louisiana weeks ago to construct artificial barriers to protect the wetlands? The monies involved are pennies to your grand spending schemes. For once, you would have received broad bi-partisan support for a government expenditure.
In this connection also, either the National Guard can be useful in containment and cleaning up or it cannot. If it is useful, it would already have been useful a long time ago. The President has the power to nationalize the Guard almost overnight. What happened?
As I have said before, I am saddened by the plight of the Gulf fishermen and of the many businesses that are being destroyed by the reality of he crisis (and even more so by associated impressions of unprecedented tragedy). Why not use the Small Business Administration, a federal agency, to begin making zero-interest loans from day one? Could be done for both businesses and individuals. It’s commonly done in situations of natural disasters with consequences similar to those of this non-natural disaster. This practice often stems the disappearance of small employers that are unlikely to return, the crisis once past. It’s not just about income loss, Mr President, it’s about job loss. Didn’t anyone tell you the difference? Second, SBA easy loans would have the legal merit of positioning the Federal Government as a real civil plaintiff against BP, independent of its bullying power.
Also not mentioned is the question of why anyone is drilling down several thousands of feet near our shores rather than a couple of hundreds in Alaska and yes, in California, near where I live. It seems less difficult and if accidents happen at shallow depth, I am pretty sure they are easier to remedy.
Present in the President’s virile speech: the ever-present frivolous, futile call for reliance on solar energy instead of petroleum.
No one has done more to discredit this otherwise attractive technology than Barack Obama.
None of the President’s erring logic, none of this tin ear amounts to a crime. We must resist the temptation to discern criminality where only gross incompetence is present: If I found myself somehow at the commands of a 747 and I crashed the plane on landing, would it make me a criminal, I ask?
I also wonder if I, a retired university professor with a good scholarly record, would have done better than that former university professor with no record at all. The response I give is mixed: I would probably have done a little better because I am more inclined to seek and take advice than Prof. Obama seems to be. Also, I am a much better judge of other people’s competence than Mr Obama is. But then, most adults are, I suspect. The other part of the answer is that I, unlike Barack Obama, have had the wisdom never to run for an important office, never confused playing at being President with actually being President. Even as a little kid playing doctor with my female cousins, I knew I wasn’t a doctor.
Someone with some executive experience would have addressed some of the questions I raised above and acted accordingly. I mean, someone like John McCain, or better, like Governor Sarah Palin.
I know this level of incompetence may tempt one into elaborating conspiracy perspectives: If the President’s clique were preparing to try again and impose its silly environmental agenda, the President would not act all so differently maybe. It’s not a conspiracy; this is too clumsy, too absurd (although the administration may try later to recycle the present crisis for this purpose). None of this is surprising. The President is a man who has never accomplished anything in his life. He is acting the President as he acted the US Senator before, and the state legislator before that, and before that, the “community organizer.” His last best part may well have been that of a law review “Editor” without a single publication to his name. Earlier in life, he acted well the part of the bright-eyed, intelligent-looking minority student that stopped questions about affirmative action dead in their tracks. To this, day is college grades are under lock and key. That’s probably the reason.
And remember, this is not an illegitimate “regime” coming to power God knows how. America deserves President Obama as the Gaza strip deserves Hamas. (See my: “Israel Attack,…,” posted 6/2/10) We chose him carefully, from a large field of candidates. We did so over a long period giving us plenty of opportunities to come to our senses. We did it because we are a great people that often suffers from temporary blindness.
And where is Al Gore now that his buddy and ally is allowing an evil oil company to burn thousands of gallons of crude oil daily? He and Tipper had described their divorce as amiable, almost a tea party. It can’t be what’s keeping him from making stentorian declarations about the end of the Planet, just around the corner. Fate gave him the Gulf oil disaster on a silver platter. Why the deafening silence?Does his cult have even more to hide than we thought? Is the Nobel Peace Prize winner simply ashamed of his profitable traffic in pollution credits? I wish I understood better the religiously inclined.
Tell me what you think.