June 16, 2010

The Obama oil spill speech - what did we learn?

Last night's speech by President Obama on the oil spill was pretty much what I had predicted it would be. Act tough, blame BP, focus on the money first because they don't have a solution to the real problem of oil continuing to pour into the Gulf of Mexico.  But the President's speech showed us a great deal more than just a sorry excuse for an oil spill response.

Never mind that the President seemed small and un-Presidential.  We need to re-think that whole he's nothing without the teleprompter line of sarcasm.  He seemed very small reading from it.  Maybe the problem was him sitting behind a desk made him look uncomfortable.  Or maybe it was the oil spill itself.  In any case he looked stiff and did not look at ease.  That's not all that important though.  What's more important is the impression he left on issues and substance.

He said what he wanted done but it was pretty vague when you think about it.  There was new policy type pronouncements but they were really really short on specifics and offered litle in the way of direction other than he would not accept the status quo on energy policy.  So the policy by default is "CHANGE".  Any change is on the table, the status quo is off the table.  That's not leadership.  That's more government by committee.  That's something you'd expect in the Senate, like a committee to investigate whether offshore drilling should be off the table.  Wait, what?  The difference between Reagan and Obama could not be clearer. In addition to looking un-Presidential the President gave a direction to go and then farmed out every bit of specificity. President Reagan gave a destination and a roadmap before he delegated the details. President Reagan also did not delegate to Congress but to his own team. He did not have czars he had lieutenants. Eric Holder for example is looking more like a rogue or a tail wagging the dog.

Speaking of czars, what's one more? The President displayed not only a lack of leadership but he also displayed his 'government by people serving at his whim' with the talk of another czar.  Does the Executive branch need another czar?  Despite this concurrent centralization of power and abdication of responsibility, there seems to be a leadership vacuum and people are most likely stepping in. Hillary Clinton is oddly silent in all this. Is she deliberately keeping a low profile or being held in check by Rahm? I can't imagine she is standing still with all this opportunity flowing towards Republicans.  Something must be happening.

What we will likely see out of this is a very short job approval bump as people perceive that he's doing something.  But then as the details start to sink people will realize there really aren't any of them - details that is.  Combine that with the fact that he seemed un-Presidential and that the mainstream media was not particularly overwhelmed by the speech either and it would seem the President accomplished very little personally from the address.  That's only fitting since other than demanding BP set aside money, which everyone knew already, the President accomplished nothing about solving the spill either.

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