Obama: Love me, hate BP
Barack Obama’s press conference yesterday (transcript here), his first in about 10 months (imagine the media letting George W. Bush get away with that), was little more than another excercise in Obama narcissism.
His message regarding the Gulf oil spill was repeatedly bipolar, coming across as “we’re taking credit for anything that goes right and avoiding blame for anything that doesn’t.”
Start with this:
The federal government is also directing the effort to contain and clean up the damage from the spill, which is now the largest effort of its kind in U.S. history. In this case, the federal, state and local governments have the resources and expertise to play an even more direct role in the response effort. And I will be discussing this further when I make my second trip to Louisiana tomorrow.
But so far we have about 20,000 people in the region who are working around the clock to contain and clean up this oil. We have activated about 1,400 members of the National Guard in four states. We have the Coast Guard on site. We have more than 1,300 vessels assisting in the containment and cleanup efforts.
By putting metion of the 20,000 people “working around the clock” within the discussion of what the federal government is doing and what the military is doing, it sure makes it sound as if those 20,000 people work for the government.
Later, however, the truth slips out:
In terms of shoreline protection, the way this thing has been set up, under the oil spill act of 1990 – Oil Pollution Act – is that BP has contracts with a whole bunch of contractors on file, in the event that there’s an oil spill. And as soon as the Deep Horizon (sic) well went down, then their job is to activate those and start paying them. So a big chunk of the 20,000 who are already down there are being paid by BP.
It’s a safe bet that the large majority of the 20,000 are in fact working for BP. As usual, Obama aggrandizes the government’s role.
Much the rest of his message was a strange mix of “we’re in charge” and “BP are really the experts." Consider some of these statements:
- But make no mistake: BP is operating at our direction. Every key decision and action they take must be approved by us in advance.
- Now, with respect to the relationship between our government and BP, the United States government has always been in charge of making sure that the response is appropriate. BP, under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, is considered the responsible party, which basically means they’ve got to pay for everything that’s done to both stop the leak and mitigate the damage. They do so under our supervision, and any major decision that they make has to be done under the approval of Thad Allen, the national incident coordinator.
- (Y)ou’ve got the federal government directly overseeing what BP is doing, and Thad Allen is giving authorization when finally we feel comfortable that the risks of attempting a top kill, for example, are – are sufficiently reduced that it needs to be tried.
- There has never been a point during this crisis in which this administration, up and down the line, in all these agencies, hasn’t, number one, understood this was my top priority – getting this stopped and then mitigating the damage – and number two, understanding that if BP wasn’t doing what our best options were, we were fully empowered to instruct them to tell them to do something different.
and then this:
- What is true is that when it comes to stopping the leak down below, the federal government does not possess superior technology to BP.
- (W)e had a meeting down in the Situation Room, in which I specifically asked Bob Gates and Mike Mullen, what assets do we have that could potentially help, that BP or other oil companies around the world do not have? We do not have superior technology, when it comes to dealing with this particular crisis.
- BP has the best technology, along with the other oil companies, when it comes to actually capping the well down there.
In other words, the federal government is extremely busy appearing to be “helping", at least when they’re not talking about how much they’re gonna make BP pay. (I count 6 references specifically to costs being incurred or to be incurred by BP in this one press conference.)
It was amusing to hear that Barack Obama sent Energy Secretary Steven Chu down to help. He’s the guy who said we should combat global warming by painting our rooves white. Not kidding.
Again, in a subtle “praise us, blame them” mode: “(P)art of the purpose of this press conference is to explain to the folks down in the Gulf that ultimately it is our folks down there who are responsible. If they’re not satisfied with something that’s happening, then they need to let us know, and we will immediately question BP and ask them, why isn’t XYZ happening." Got that: We (the federal government) are responsible…except if anything happens that people aren’t happy with, in which case we’ll “question BP.”
Is anyone really buying this garbage?
On a lighter note, I was glad to see Obama slip in a Bushism: “I’m not contradictoring (sic) my prior point…”
Finally, I would note that when asked about Joe Sestak’s claim that he was offered a job to get out of the Pennsylvania Senate primary, which he subsequently won, beating Arlen Specter, Obama said that “I can assure the public that nothing improper took place. But as I said, there will be a response shortly on that issue." If he knows that nothing improper took place, then he must know what took place. If he knows what took place, why not just answer the question at a press conference. I’d bet there are some slightly panicked White House attorneys feverishly working to Cover His Ass. After all, if Sestak were to be offered a job like Secretary of the Navy, you can bet that Obama would have been asked for his approval before the job were offered. And that would make Obama guilty of a federal crime, along with everyone else involved in making the offer to Sestak.
It’s great to finally see the media’s love affair with Barack Obama wearing thin. Perhaps, like the girl who got a little too drunk one night, they feel a little bit used and resentful as Obama is doing to the country just what was done to that girl.
When even Chrissy “the tingle” Matthews has fallen out of love, Obam should know the honeymoon is over…
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