Waiting For A Hero To Arrive --- the Gulf spill. Why are we so paralyzed?

Waiting For A Hero To Arrive

by digby

Peter Daou writes the piece
we should all be writing:

A calamity is unfolding before our eyes - the greatest oil spill in history - and America's response is little more than a big yawn.

The vast, sprawling coastal marshes of Louisiana, where the Mississippi River drains into the gulf, are among the finest natural resources to be found anywhere in the world. And they are a positively crucial resource for America. The response of the Obama administration and the general public to this latest outrage at the hands of a giant, politically connected corporation has been embarrassingly tepid. ... This is the bitter reality of the American present, a period in which big business has cemented an unholy alliance with big government against the interests of ordinary Americans, who, of course, are the great majority of Americans. The great majority of Americans no longer matter. America is selling its soul for oil. - Bob Herbert

Where is the outrage? Where are the millions marching in the streets, where is the round-the-clock roadblock coverage tracking every moment of the crisis, every effort to plug the leak, every desperate attempt to mitigate the damage?

Where is the White House? Where are Republicans? Where are Democrats? Where is the left? Where is the right? Where is the "fierce urgency of now?"

Prominent oceanographers [are] accusing the government of failing to conduct an adequate scientific analysis of the damage and of allowing BP to obscure the spill's true scope. The scientists assert that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies have been slow to investigate the magnitude of the spill and the damage it is causing in the deep ocean. - NYT

In the movies, pretend heroes like Bruce Willis and Will Smith save the planet while the whole world watches with breath and belief suspended. In real life, a global catastrophe is treated like a mere annoyance, mismanaged by a rapacious oil company, while drill-baby-drillers double down on their folly and the White House puts out defensive fact sheets about how they were on it from "day one."

In some parts of the country, the sight of oil drifting toward the Louisiana coast, oozing into the fragile marshlands and bringing large parts of the state's economy to a halt, has prompted calls to stop offshore drilling indefinitely, if not altogether. Here, in the middle of things, those calls are few. Here, in fact, the unfolding disaster is not even prompting a reconsideration of the 75th annual Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival. "All systems are go," said Lee Delaune, the festival's director, sitting in his cluttered office in a historic house known as Cypress Manor. "We will honor the two industries as we always do," Mr. Delaune said. "More so probably in grand style, because it's our diamond jubilee." - NYT

Is this really the best we can do?

What if it is?

I think that may be what everyone's afraid of. Somewhere in the backs of our minds I think most of know that Bruce Willis is just a pampered movie star who probably doesn't know how to fill up his gas tank. And we haven't seen much competence among the experts in any fields lately. It's a crisis of confidence.

I know I started averting my eyes when I realized that the company and the government's first instincts were to control the damage to their stock price and image than to controlling the damage to the environment. Just as they are doing with the economy, they seem to assume that the oil spill will somehow fix itself and their main problem is the political and public relations fallout. What do you do with that kind of magical thinking in light of such a complicated problem with such huge consequences?

I think the human instinct is often to retreat in such circumstances, which is why the public seems apathetic. I suspect they are too afraid to find out that not only isn't there a real life Bruce Willis --- there isn't anyone who can fix this. It's a very frightening thought.

On the other hand, there is ample evidence that even on the most elementary level they are simply fucking things up. Perhaps that scares people even more.