Monday, June 21, 2010

Is the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico "Obama's Katrina"?

Over the weekend, I was asked yet again the same question that I am going to answer here: Is the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico President Obama's "Katrina"? I say yes.

Here's the reason why: Obama had no more to do with the oil spill than President Bush had to do with hurricane Katrina. As far as I know, presidents still can't control the weather. Also, the tragedy in New Orleans was due much, much more to the failures of the mayor of New Orleans and of the governor of Louisiana at the time to do the proper and necessary evacuations procedures than it was to Bush's eventual reactions.

It's no secret that left-wingers not just dislike Bush, they actually hate him, and the tragedy of Katrina was something for them to hang around Bush's neck, this despite the fact that he can't control the weather and that the chains of command in these kinds of emergencies runs from the city level and the state level before it gets to the federal level. Could Bush have done more? Yes certainly, he could have, but it's easy to judge something like this in hindsight. But also in hindsight, the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana at the time could have done a lot MORE.

After all, if you're going to judge the actions of someone in hindsight, you have to consider ALL the parties who could also have done more - and not just the actions of the person you happen to hate. The mayor and the governor failed more because they failed to act sooner. They were in a much better position to judge conditions "on the ground", because they were closer to the catastrophe than Bush was many states away in D.C.

Now let's look at President Obama and the oil spill. Could Obama have done more? Yes, certainly he could have - but just as with Bush, we are looking at this from hindsight. However, just as Bush can't control the weather, Obama can't predict when and where undersea oil lines are about to rupture. And just as Bush had to work with the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana in order to get things done, Obama has to work with BP in order to get anything done about stopping the leak.

Obama can have the BP execs dragged to the Oval Office and he can talk about whose ass to kick and so forth, but he is dependent almost exclusively on BP finding the means of stopping the leak, because there are no readily available government sources to perform this task. There really aren't any alternatives at this time, because even if we tried to go with another oil company to fix the leak, they would need time to study the problem in order to get it done, which means even more oil leaking in the meantime. So for better or worse, we are stuck with BP.

So to answer the question of whether the oil leak is Obama's "Katrina", then yes it is. If Bush can be blamed for a hurricane that he had no control in bringing about, much less being able to stop it, then Obama can be blamed for an oil leak in which he had no control in bringing about, and who is just as helpless in stopping it as Bush was in stopping a hurricane.

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