June 15, 2010

Obama to say nothing meaningful tonight

It would be absolutely pointless for the President to go on the air tonight to speak to the American people while having nothing meaningful to say about the oil spill, right?  That doesn't mean he won't do it. The President will probably have a lot to say tonight but I doubt very much of it is going to be meaningful.  What he does say will likely amount to a bunch of promises about the future that aren't directly relevant to the current crisis.  If ever there was an instance of someone viewing a situation through only their own lenses, this has to be it.

Consider the facts;

(1) The President's team touted themselves as being out there and on top of the situation since DAY 1.
(2) The President claimed he was in charge.
(3) The President has been seen as either slow or ineffectual in his response to the oil spill, in the same disapproval range as BP.
(4) Thousands of barrels per day continue to seep pour into the Gulf of Mexico.
(5) The President's response has been more legal than operative.  He sent in Eric Holder to start looking for people to sue instead of convening experts to come up with a strategic plan. During the first 40+ days he didn't even meet with the CEO of BP.
(6) The President's response has been more political than operative. By meeting with people and telling them he is going to do right by them and that he's not Superman, he's maneuvering for votes.

What is really needed is a plan to do the following:

(1) Stop the spill from continuing entirely. Reduce the spillage to ZERO.
(2) In the interim, minimize the amount of spillage occurring.
(3) Protect the coastlines and water supplies of the states that will be or are being impacted by the spill.
(4) Develop and implement a clean-up strategy for during and after the spill.
(5) For each of the items above, assess the cost implications to the federal and state governments to require re-payment from BP and/or the other companies responsible like TransOcean for example.
(6) For those affected by the spill both personally and business-related impacts assess the potential damages for reasonableness, completeness and viability.
(7) Assess the culpability and resulting financial responsibilities associated with each of the parties involved, INCLUDING the actions of federal and state governments
(8) Seek redress from the guilty parties.

For items (1) through (4), determine roles and responsibilities, solutions, risks, and a project plan that will provide maximum results in the most efficient manner possible.

Granted that is a lot to ask. But what exactly has been going on for the past 50+ days besides crisis management and seemingly panic reactions at the event site?  Someone actually proposed a junk shot?  Maybe it made sense but it sure seemed like desperation.  The United States has landed men on the moon and in fact had a miraculous Apollo 13 disaster recovery on the fly. What happened America? This has become embarrassing.  But I digress.

In that list of action items above, notice the financial stuff, in order of importance and sequence doesn't really start kicking in until item (5)?  Granted, it doesn't need to wait for items (1) through (4) to wrap up before it starts but is it really the place to start? Picture a Civil War battle where one side sends in the medics to help the wounded, before the battle starts. It's pointless.

That's why the President is going to not say anything meaningful tonight.  He possesses a lawyer's mentality, and not just any type of lawyer. The sue-first-ask-questions-later type.  His focus tonight will be on holding BP accountable.  He will demand that they start holding money for any litigation and claims they will eventually face.  Fair enough.  But it does nothing to solve the immediate problem.  It's like telling the team QB that he's being fired after the game while he's trying to orchestrate a come from behind scoring drive.  What is the point? 

The point is political cover.  The President is trying to insulate himself from the political fallout of the spill.  That's why he will also leverage the crisis to push even harder for a Cap and Trade type legislation.  He will talk about pollution, he will cajole American about dependence on foreign oil and he will argue, perhaps subtly, that the private sector cannot be trusted and requires further regulation.  But the Cap and Trade bill has floundered and it has nothing to do with the oil spill.  The oil spill also has little to do with foreign oil - BP is as much an American company as it is British.  These are more straw man arguments.

The real issue is that the oil spill is still happening. To say something meaningful the President should be talking about how he plans to deal with issues (1) through (4) above.  But based on the facts, one is left to expect that he will focus on what is important to him - the political and legal aspects of the spill.  Those elements are not meaningful to the public in the near term. As a result, don't expect to see anything meaningful in the Presidential address tonight.

1 comment:

  1. Obama is a lot of talk. He is very articulate, I will give him that. But when it comes to actual leadership he fails miserably. Does anyone ever watch his speeches anymore? I don't think even the liberals listen to him unless they are sado-masochists. JMO.


Disagreement is always welcome. Please remain civil. Vulgar or disrespectful comments towards anyone will be removed.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Share This