June 5, 2010

Obama Getting Tough When The Getting Is Politically Necessary

Stories like this that attempt to portray the President in a positive light used to make my head spin with their unbelievable bias.  Now I look at this sort of journalism storytelling from the AP as merely self-defeating for liberalism.  They aren't fooling too many people any more. And on some level they do seem to be figuring that out.

Here, the AP describes how the President valiantly decides to get tough,
GRAND ISLE, La. – Dogged for being too calm in crisis, President Barack Obama unleashed frustration for all to see Friday, warning BP it had better do right by the people whose lives it has wrecked.
By the way, BP already promised to pay all legitimate claims.  I guess they hope six months down the road, or in 2012 everyone thinks BP was responsible BECAUSE Obama got tough on them.  But even AP makes the point that all this is starting to look like a promotional tour.
His visit amounted to one long I'm-on-your-side passage for reeling communities. Along that same line, he invited family members of the 11 workers killed when the BP rig blew up to visit the White House next Thursday. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the president had written to each of the families.

As for BP, Obama cast the oil company as a corporate giant interested in protecting its image with TV ads and its shareholders with bountiful dividends.
And President Obama, meeting with those affected by the disaster makes for great TV images and provides a counter-point to an obvious disconnect, still isn't the best use of his time versus meetings with BP and other industry experts on a daily basis might be.  Yet there he is;

In casual clothes, Obama went to a bait shop to talk to fishing industry workers about how the disastrous oil spill is affecting their business. The shop owner was there to meet him along with a shrimper, an oysterman, a marina owner and others.

Obama rolled up his sleeves and sat down at a table with the men, and they all dug into shrimp and corn on the cob. One by one, they told Obama their gut-wrenching stories, which he then related to reporters.
Casual clothes?  Really? He must be serious.  When you combine all that with the Eric Holder lawyer reaction to the crisis - send in lawyer first, not more experts - it becomes really hard to hide from the fact that the whole oil spill debacle for the administration has become not about solutions but about PR and damage control.  For the President and his team, it's evidently about the spill in Obama's approval ratings.

Yes people want BP held accountable, JUST LIKE THEY WANT THE GOVERNMENT HELD ACCOUNTABLE for a lacklustre reaction.  But now is not the time.  Now is the time to get solutions figured out and put in place.  Lawyers don't help.  Ignoring Governor Jindal's request does not help.  Admonishing BP publicly does not help.

Nevertheless, the AP continues to point to the President's demeanor as the problem.  The public knows better, it's his ineffectiveness that is the problem, not his aloof air.  If he was still aloof and this had been solved on Day 7, there would be no such talk that he doesn't seem to care.  In fact they would be exultant that his cool demeanor is exactly what is needed in a crisis.
More than six weeks into the disaster, the president's demeanor has come into question. The calm-in-crisis state that helped him win the presidency has seemed off in tone.

Just ahead of the Gulf visit, he declared himself furious at a situation that "is imperiling an entire way of life and an entire region for potentially years." He criticized BP for not responding more quickly.
As for the President's down to business approach of yelling at BP for it's failures: Pot, meet kettle.

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