The NY Times thinks that President Obama has not responded aggressively enough to this spill. Let's be clear:No way is this oil spill Barack Obama's fault.
The fault lies with the ideology and mores of the Republican party and its theory of government. Their solution to this country's energy's future is to drill anywhere and everywhere. In their theory of government, government has no right to control who, what, where and how the natural resources of this country or this planet are exploited or not exploited, resources that are needed by us all and are needed to protect us all. Like my friend Jim Gilliam said in a private email, government is supposed regulate corporate behavior not just be their willing partner/follower. This is a lesson that we all need to keep in mind and that includes the president.
In the Republican theory of government, government regulation is inherently evil or at least counterproductive. So under George Bush et al, the only regulation in the Gulf has been self regulation. This oil spill is the fault of Republican ideology.
And the Times is wrong again in saying that if BP lied to Barack Obama and misled him that is not his fault. The spill itself and even, at the moment, the seemingly futile attempts to stop the spill is the result of Republicans, down to using Halliburton's technology over another technology that is more successfully employed in Europe.
However, I think this is Barack Obama's burden and ultimately the Democratic party's burden. A month ago, Barack Obama embraced (or he thought he cleverly "co-opted") Republican ideas for how to solve our energy future. Most progressives bemoaned this, especially because he had seemed to learn the lesson of health care. He is wrong on the merits. And on the merits I think there is little disagreement. It was supposed to be another clever way to disarm right wing arguments. But it has boomeranged back into the President's face and the face of the Democratic party.
This is now the recurring riff of this presidency. And I hate to say it, but it is political malpractice.
Once again the president embraced Republican ideas to be/look bipartisan and open minded. But being Republican ideas, they have all the weaknesses of Republican ideas - just like with the health care bill being a system built on Republican ideas of the health care system - a LOOSELY REGULATED PRIVATE SYSTEM. Now the president has endorsed offshore drilling, which he still had the opportunity to repudiate clearly yesterday...but he merely temporized with an appeal to a temporary moratorium until "safe" ways are found.
Are there any safe ways? If this takes even 90 days to cap, that is 18 million gallons of oil filling the Gulf of Mexico. (I can't do the math but does that fill the Gulf ---what is the visual of that from space???)
Barack Obama is not just the President of the US, he is also the head of the Democratic Party. I hesitate to be political, especially since this is potentially an ecological disaster of vast proportions, but a Gulf full of oil through the summer, a Gulf that voters would have seen endlessly on their TV screens, would have been enough to beat the Republicans back (as well as over the head) in the midterm elections. They would have been crucified on their oil rigs.
But now is that possible? I don't think so. The Democrats running in the midterms are now hobbled in their ability to trash the Republicans, because they have to tiptoe around their own President's position. He has handcuffed them, he has almost forced them to zip their mouths shut on the issue. Indeed the inchoate anger will wrongly accrue to him, and the only thing the Democrats running may be able to do is either defend him or run away from him.
He is redefining the positions of the Democratic party in ways that many of us progressives are unhappy with on the merits. But in this case he is also losing the political benefits of being on the right side for all of us.