May 30, 2010

You own it Mr. President

President Obama seemed prepared to let BP twist in the wind alone on the Gulf oil spill. That is, he was prepared to do so until the Top Kill procedure looked like it might be successful.

With his approval ratings continuing to slide, this oil spill disaster was something the President didn't need complicating matters and he was probably hoping the "blame BP" idea would take hold with the public. Then he would skate away unscathed or swoop in later on as the hero to blame and punish BP and solve the spill.

But as the spill remained unsolvable the problem became not only an environmental one but a political one. The President was forced to say something. As I mentioned in a previous post, doing something would have been better, but that's not how this White House operates. It had to say something and with this team, timing is everything.

In an act of absolute opportunism, the President came out with a strongly worded "I own this" moment (except for anything he could still blame Bush for) precisely when BP looked like it had the answer in place. The idea - sweep in, take credit for saving the day. Timing is everything. Except that so is Murphy's Law.

The Top Kill solution appears to have failed. So too has President Obama's political strategy. Guess what Mr. President - the oil spill is yours. You own it. You can blame BP for the spill, but since you took credit for directing all their solution efforts, you can't blame them for the response.

That's all on you. It's yours. You own it. Maybe you should look at actually solving the problem or listening to others' suggestions like that Governor Bobby Jindal. Words can't save you from this one Mr. President and it might even be too late for deeds to salvage your political career. But maybe they can still help the Gulf coast.

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