I start this post with some trepidation. I’m not sure I want to open this can of worms. I don’t want to believe that what I’m beginning to fear is real. My conservative friends are going to say, “This is what we’ve been trying to tell you.” My liberal friends are going to say, “You’re a Republican-loving idiot. And Obama is still better than Bush.”
At the end of this, I have a favor to ask, especially from my liberal friends.
To kick this off, I have three quotes that have continued to circulate through my brain. Keep these in mind as you read this post.
1. “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” — Rahm Emanuel
2. “The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now… (B)ut only if we accelerate that transition. Only if we seize the moment.” — President Obama from his address to the nation earlier this week. Full transcript here.
3. “Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” — Spock
Reasons for Human Behavior
I’ve always loved Spock’s intellect and insight. His analytical mind, yet his openness to believe what should be unbelievable. I think we often try to make things more complicated than they need to be. Human behavior is really fairly predictable. People do things for various reasons. And typically those reasons are fairly simple. To do good. To make money. To have fun. To change the world. Accomplishing our goals may not be so simple, but the reasons for our actions typically are.
I have been approaching my criticism of President Obama and his handling, or mishandling, of this oil crisis from a fairly simple perspective. That his lack of leadership skills have dramatically compounded an environmental catastrophe. But what if there’s another purpose at play?
Rejecting International Assistance
Let’s walk through what I consider some critical mistakes by the administration. Not in plugging the damn hole, but in helping to protect our environment and coastline from the oil.
April 20: Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explodes, and oil begins gushing into the ocean.
April 23: The Dutch, who have experience cleaning up oil, offer ships outfitted with oil-skimming booms, and it proposes a plan for building sand barriers to protect sensitive marshlands. It’s been reported that these ships can remove 20,000 tons of oil and sludge per day from the ocean. According to Geert Visser, the counsul general for the Netherlands: “The embassy got a nice letter from the administration that said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’”.
May 5: The State Department reported that thirteen international offers of aid had been tendered and the government would decide which to accept “in the next two days”. Two weeks later, it said it did not need any of them.
May 19: The administration has continued to leave BP in charge of both plugging the hole and the cleanup of the oil. When asked about the international offers, State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid told reporters “We’ll let BP decide what expertise they do need.”
Does that sound like the administration is in charge as they’ve often proclaimed?
At one point (unclear of the date), Coast Guard Lt. Commander Christopher T. O’Neil said that “all qualifying offers of assistance have been accepted.” But this is hugely misleading. There is an old law on the books called the Jones Act which limits foreign vessels from engaging in certain activities in our waters. In comparison, on day four after Katrina, then President Bush through an executive order waived the Jones Act so that we could accept international offers of aid. President Obama has chosen not to do this, thus most of the offers for aid are not “qualifying offers”. Countries have offered ships, skimmers and booms. Other countries have offered chemical dispersants that help to break down the oil in the water. BP was willing to contribute $360 million to help pay for sand berms to protect Louisiana, but this too was rejected because they were not “qualifying offers”.
A Precedent has Been Set
President Obama already has a record of saying one thing, but doing another. This certainly is not uncommon for a politician. It’s been clear since Obama took office that the economy and jobs have never been high on his priority list. The Stimulus Bill provided little stimulus. The administration said it would save and create jobs. The CBO (Congressional Budget Office) said that by 2011, the bill would have NO net affect on job creation. IBD (Investors Business Daily) predicted that it would make things worse. That it was just a big government spending bill. The administration pushed it through, and things have gotten worse. It appears to me that IBD was correct.
One of the first posts I wrote for this blog was about how Cash for Clunkers was a green program, and not a stimulus program as it was often described by the administration.
And the administration continues to press for legislation that will hurt our recovery such as cap and trade.
The administration has said that jobs are their top priority, but they’ve done little to help the economy. And much of their legislative agenda will do just the opposite.
The administration has said they’ve done everything possible to protect our coastline and environment from the oil, but the facts indicate otherwise.
“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
Whatever Remains, However Improbable, Must be the Truth
I have repeatedly commented on what I have seen as a lack of leadership from President Obama. My criticisms began long before this crisis. And I still contend that Obama is a poor executive. Many of my liberal friends continue to tell me I’m wrong. So why has he not waived the Jones Act? Why have we rejected numerous offers of aid when it’s clear that we need the help? Why has he left BP in charge of the cleanup for so long? Can you explain this to me?
President Obama is a smart man. He is surrounded by smart people. They have a reason for their actions, and their inactions.
If it’s not poor leadership, then what is it? Is the administration using this crisis to push their own agenda? By their own words, it is clear that they are.
“The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now… (B)ut only if we accelerate that transition. Only if we seize the moment.”
Would the administration intentionally drag their feet and ignore opportunities to help cleanup the oil to further exasperate the crisis? I have a very difficult time believing that ANY President would do this. But I’m also have a hard time attributing all of these decisions to poor leadership. I’m beginning to fear that to further the cause of green energy, we have intentionally let this crisis spin out of control. It paints an ugly picture.
So what favor do I ask, particularly of my liberal friends? Tell me why my fears are wrong. Persuade me that there’s another purpose, a reasonable plan, for why we have rejected these offers of international aid. I want to believe. I’m just finding it tough at the moment.
And as Spock would say, “Live long, and prosper”.