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BP Oil Spill: Obama's Katrina

By May 3, 2010

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Barbara Pokorney, left, and Tammy Moreau position a sign for the presidential motorcade to see as it passes by their cabin and RV park en route to the Coast Guard Station May 2, 2010 in Venice, La. President Obama was visiting the region to survey damage caused by the massive oil spill created in the aftermath of the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig.

The British Petroleum oil spill is leaking more than 200,000 gallons of oil a day (the equivalent of 5,000 barrels) into the Gulf, and experts predict it will hit the coast within hours.

Executives at BP have been unable to determine the exact cause of the explosion, which killed 11 workers on the oil rig the fuel company leases from Transocean Ltd. Although wild speculation has traced the cause to everything from neglect to poorly-made concrete seals, authorities said they will take into account all possibilities and have not ruled out criminal activity.

Ironically, President Barack Obama is now taking some heat for the government's slow response to the catastrophe. It took the president nine days to even address the tragedy and 12 days to allocate federal resources. The irony, of course, is that Obama was one of President George W. Bush's harshest critics during the 2008 presidential campaign, and frequently pounded the administration for the federal government's slow response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In a speech given on race relations and Katrina at Harvard in October 2008, Obama said the response by Bush and FEMA revealed a "passive indifference" toward black people "that is common in our culture ..."

If this had just been a one-time, offhand remark, Obama's recent inaction to the BP oil spill wouldn't be so bewildering. But Obama made the Katrina debacle a cornerstone of his presidential campaign, implying over and over that he would have done things differently, and pledging that the change he was bringing would ensure it would never happen again.

Now, a year and a half later, the Obama administration has its own Katrina on its hands. The White House, of course, is claiming that the two disasters have nothing in common, when in fact they have everything in common. Just like it did with Katrina, the oil spill's devastation is only now beginning to come into focus thirteen days after the initial destruction. Just like Katrina, the oil spill continues to wreak havoc the longer the cleanup goes unaddressed.

The White House has been defending itself by saying that Katrina was a natural disaster, and therefore the federal government had the principal role in relief efforts (according to The Washington Times, however, "Later assessments by some organizations found that the primary responsibility for the disaster response lay with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, not federal officials"). The oil spill, on the other hand, was a man-made disaster, and therefore -- according to the White House -- the company responsible for the destruction is also responsible for its cleanup. In one case, nature laid waste to people, in the other, people laid waste to nature.

The problem with this logic, however, is that a large oil company like BP isn't equipped to deal with an ecological disaster of this magnitude. If it is discovered that the spill was the result of a criminal act, the lag in response by the federal government will forever taint the Obama presidency. The administration has been defending its inaction recently by saying that the cleanup is BP's problem and that the company will foot the bill for its cost. Should investigators determine that foul play was the cause, however, the discussion will undoubtedly change and so will the debate over the Obama administration's level of blame.

Many people mistakenly believe Bush simply didn't care about the people of New Orleans. The reality, however, is that he was simply waiting to see whether state and local officials would be able to handle the rescue and recovery efforts. His mistake was following protocol. Had he dispatched a federal response immediately, untold lives might have been saved. The lesson here was that, regardless of who bears the responsibility, it is the federal government's job to keep the nation and its resources safe from disaster.

Obama is finding out it's not enough to recognize the mistakes of the past and condemn them. One must learn from them as well.

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Comments

May 3, 2010 at 3:23 pm
(1) RealTime53 says:

“The problem with this logic, however, is that a large oil company like BP isn’t equipped to deal with an ecological disaster of this magnitude.”

Neither is the federal government:

“In reality, oil companies and the government lack the technology to prevent the damage from a well gushing oil, killing wildlife and tainting a delicate ecosystem.”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36912754/ns/us_news-environment/

There is a reason that BP is still working on the leaks, even though the Coast Guard is now in charge.

“It took the president nine days to even address the tragedy and 12 days to allocate federal resources.”

Not quite accurate. Let’s review:

April 20 — the rig catches fire.
April 22 — rig sinks
April 23 — Reuters reports an oil spill that is ‘not growing’
April 24 — BP announces that the leak is 1000 barrels per day
April 25 — BP attempts to close the oil valves with ROVs
April 28 — NOAA announces that the spill is 5000 barrels per day
April 28 — US military joins the clean up operation. Coast Guard does a controlled burn on surface oil.
April 29 — “On April 30, it was estimated approximately 2,000 people, 79 vessels, and two DoD C-130 aircraft involved in the response.”

“according to The Washington Times, however, “Later assessments by some organizations found that the primary responsibility for the disaster response lay with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, not federal officials”).”

Justin, even if your quote were true and if it were just Katrina, you might have a point. Unfortunately, we have plenty of other data to form an opinion on our underpowered and overwhelmed previous chief executive.

BTW, the Wash Times is the punch line to a bad joke. As in,”He is an idiot who believes everything published in the Washington Times”. It is rare that they have an article of objective value. Does Reverend Moon still own them?

May 3, 2010 at 4:59 pm
(2) usconservatives says:

“Neither is the federal government …”
Fair enough. Perhaps I should have said BP is not as equipped as the federal government to deal with a disaster of this magnitude. Regardless of what that pantheon of truth, MSNBC, has to say about it, the federal government at least has more experience dealing with disasters like this. The truth is, the federal government has resources a company like the government. In fact, you all but admit this in your following refutation, when you note that the government dispatched two C-130 aircrafts to join in the effort. BP doesn’t have resources like that.

“April 28 — US military joins the clean up operation. Coast Guard does a controlled burn on surface oil.”
Actually, the Coast Guard was involved from the very beginning, RT. Unfortunately, that’s not the response we’re talking about. Two things needed to happen from the very beginning: the president needed to dispatch the Department of Defense and Homeland Security immediately. The other thing — and this is just as important — the president needed to make a quick and decisive statement of support for the people affected by this spill and reassure the American people that the nation’s resolve to eliminate it’s dependence on foreign oil is undeterred.

“BTW, the Wash Times is the punch line to a bad joke.”
Right. The way MSNBC is a punch line. As in, “MSNBC is the Washington Times of television.” Of course, even the Washington Times has a decent circulation, so really MSNBC, as a punch line, is much worse. Don’t believe me? Check this out. You’ll see that MSNBC is less than doing less than half the numbers of the leader. Not to get sidetracked, but isn’t it interesting that the only show on MSNBC showing an improvement is Morning Joe, with Joe Scarborough (a conservative Republican)? Maybe the brass over there should try taking a hint from its viewers and can Olbermann (he’s down double digits).

May 3, 2010 at 5:30 pm
(3) RealTime53 says:

“Of course, even the Washington Times has a decent circulation, so really MSNBC, as a punch line, is much worse.”

Justin, Justin, Justin … this is not the way to make your claim more credible. “MSNBC is worse because more Moonies subscribe to the Wash Times!” In the past year, I’ve read a couple of really good articles in the Wash Times. No, I don’t have links. Not everything that the Moonies produce is drivel. ‘Inchon’ was a pretty good Moonie-produced movie.

BTW, I granted you your point. “Even if it were true …”

In the Steven Seagall movie ‘On Deadly Ground’, the part of the oil rig that was sabotaged was the preventer, the same part that failed on the Deepwater Horizon. I’ve got some pictures of the rig as it sank. I’ll send them to you.

May 14, 2010 at 8:51 am
(4) gibo says:

I’m very worry about this disaster… I see another problem: the evaporation of water from sea surface could be reduced due to the oil presence, this probably will reduce the rain over world…. regards,
gibo

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