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BP oil spill worst in U.S. history -- political fallout for Obama even deadlier as GOP launches powerful attack

Bird in oil-covered marsh May 27, 2010 near Grand Isle, Louisiana by Getty Images
It's now Day 40 in the BP oil spill. An estimated 18 million-39 million barrels of oil have spewed into the Gulf, poisoning fish and birds, destroying lives and businesses, ruining fragile marshlands and eocsystems for generations, the worst spill in U.S. history. With a fix uncertain, scientists estimate that the oil already spilled now covers 30,000 square miles, the size of South Carolina. Which means that the oil spill is now larger than 10 states.

Politically, the fallout could be even worse. Like George W. Bush, whose lethargy in responding to Hurricane Katrina made him a political lame duck, President Obama is now being battered by critics on both sides who think he still does not seem engaged in unleashing the huge powers of the federal government to cap the spill and try to wall off the muck that's heading for the shores. Exhibit A among critics: Obama didn't know if Minerals Management Service head Elizabeth Birnbaum was fired or resigned.

Among Democrats, Louisiana's Charlie Melancon broke down in tears when talking about the devastating financial and ecological impact on his state. In New Orleans, former Clinton campaign strategist James Carville derided the president for being detached and lackadaisical. And from Pennsylvania, Gov. Ed Rendell pointed out that this is a matter of presidential style. “If Bill Clinton was president," Rendell quipped, "he’d have been in a wetsuit, you know, trying to get down to see the spill."

As for Republicans, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has released an ad scorching Obama by replaying his campaign promises not to repeat the errors of Katrina.

And if anyone wonders, Obama may be getting even worse reviews at home. As he recounted Thursday, he awakes in the morning to his 11-year-old daughter Malia asking, "Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?"

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Bird in oil-covered marsh May 27, 2010, near Grand Isle, La. Credit: Getty Images

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I thought that the rrepublicans did not want government involved, smaller government, etc, big bushy business knows better!

Why the BP spill is unlike Katrina is simple: Because this disaster took place more than 50 miles from LA shores, this was a federal issue, from Day One. Katrina on the other hand, was a state issue, and we know how the mayor was in Houston, and we still don't know where former governor Firing Blancos was, but the Democrat Press blamed it on Washington, and this time around, the same bunch of silly cheerleaders waited almost 40 days to hold President Magnifico responsible. Better late than never, I suppose.

People shouldn't be blameing Obama for this, BP is the one to be held responsible. Nobody else can fix it other than BP anyway since it is their property. Nobody knows what is going on in the whitehouse except the people in the whitehouse. I don't believe the president would throw something this huge aside. Everyone's hatred for obama comes from prejudice durring his campaign and the people who are against the health care bill. A lot of people don't think for themselves and decide to believe the stories other people say. But bad talking the president isn't going to change anything, he is doing the best he can and will be in office for at least a few more years. When the next election comes, thats when you can decide for yourself weather or not the country has been recovering from Bush's administration or not. The way people are talking, no matter who the next candidate is they are going to vote for them. Maybe they would do a better job, but the sad truth is even if they are a complete idiot people are going to vote for them just because of the hate directed towards Obama. Voters, do your own research, figure out what is going on through your own resources, not just what people tell you. Make your decision based on what you know, not what other people know. And don't hate Obama when you don't have anything to back it by other than your rich and you get taxed more.




The following quotes are reported by the Associated Press on May 27, 2010 concerning Obama’s speech on May 27, 2010…

“Fixing oil disaster my responsibility, Obama says”

"I take responsibility. It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down," Obama declared at a news conference in the East Room of the White House. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill dominated the hour-long session.”

“He called the spill an "unprecedented disaster" and blasted a "scandalously close relationship" he said has persisted between Big Oil and government regulators.”

“We will demand that they pay every dime they owe for the damage they've done and the painful losses that they've cost," he said. Still, he acknowledged, "We've got to get it right."

“He denounced what he called "the oil industry's cozy and sometimes corrupt" ties with government regulators.”

These “ties”? Are they more than just “ties with government regulators?” I think he has forgotten a few little ties that are closer to him than government regulators. What about the people he has picked to actually run energy issues in this country? I think it’s a little more like this…

The following quotes are reported by the New York Times on May 25, 2010:

“BP’s Ties to Agency Are Long and Complex”

“Three years ago, the national laboratory then headed by Steven Chu received the bulk of a $500 million grant from the British oil giant BP to develop alternative energy sources through a new Energy Biosciences Institute.”

“Today, Dr. Chu is President Obama’s energy secretary, and he spent Tuesday in Houston working with BP officials to try to find a way to stop the unabated flow of oil from a ruptured well a mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico.
Dr. Koonin, who followed Dr. Chu to the Energy Department and now serves as under secretary of energy for science, is recused from all matters relating to the disaster because of his past ties to BP, said Stephanie Mueller, an Energy Department spokeswoman.”

“The fact that Steven Chu selected Steve Koonin, BP’s chief scientist, to be his under secretary could predispose them to think that they could maybe negotiate with BP, could be more like partners regarding the oil cleanup,” said Jennifer Washburn, the author of a coming report by the Center for American Progress called “Big Oil Goes to College,” which examines the BP-Berkeley venture. “It makes it more likely for them to see BP as a legitimate partner in handling the cleanup operation.”

“Unfortunately,” Ms. Washburn added, “what people are questioning, with good reason, is whether the government has been too soft on BP.”

It appears that Obama might have put his own little spin on owning the responsibility for the Gulf Oil Spill. So, he admits, it really is his responsibility but not in the way we think he is responsible...the two men he has put in charge of the Department of Energy, are connected to BP…not just ties to BP, they work with or under BP…they are part of BP, they are responsible for this, and so is Obama.

The GOP have no right to complain: They are as responsible as #BP for the oilspill in the Gulf! There have been decades of deregulation and lack of government that have led up to the BP oilspill in the Gulf.
What I get about Obama is that he is so ethical effective & responsible it was difficult for him to comprehend the extent #BP lacked those qualities. He has acknowledged his error and pledged to take responsibilty, which is more than our last president ever did.

I'm amazed by BP's staging for the President's LA visit. Does anyone else see distubing parallels between what BP is doing and what happened to Truman Burbank in Jim Carrey's 1998 movie 'The Truman Show'?

I'm surprised the media hasn't picked on the similarities.

come on people you cant compare this to Katrina.this is in no way equal to it.that's just a desperate attempt to make the obama administration look bad by the republicans.

Give obama a break what he suppose to do dive in a repair it.

Gallup polls show that support for offshore drilling has drop 20 points in 2 months.

The chances are that those figures will drop even further as the oil starts taking its toll on the beaches and wildlife.

Interestingly Republican support for drilling hasn’t move much at all dispite the devastation . Most of the drop in support is coming from independents and Democrats who once supported offshore drilling.

Although several high profile Republican candidates , sensing the change in the wind, have switched sides…especially in California…most Republicans are sticking to their guns. Keep drilling no matter what the environmental costs.

Even the worst environmental disaster in US history isn’t enough to move Republicans off their religious ferver for “Drill Baby Drill”

For Republicans the addiction to oil is a very difficult habit to kick. But As long as those blobs of oil aren’t washing up into THEIR swimming pools….There is no price too steep to pay for more oil

Very telling article by a bloggeresse usualy pro-Obama.Good luck with your
studys and go rogue Johanna !

Get a clue, Rodney. ALL AMERICANS, no matter WHICH political affiliation, expect the federal government to step up to the plate when a DISASTER occurs that is too large for state officials to handle. The feds have the money, the manpower, and the expertise. In fact, *17* countries offered their equipment and experts to help with this, but the B.O. administration turned down all but 2!

Apparently B.O.'s Trilateral Commission handlers told him to do nothing so that maximal damage would occur. Then, "not to waste a crisis," he will no doubt be pushing cap 'n tax based on this disaster. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if during the interim we had another "energy crisis" just like during the Jimmah Cahtah era (Carter was another Trilateralist). Like Cahtah, Oblahblah will be a one-termer.

Living Democracy, It wasn't the GOP who waived an environmental impact study for BP. It wasn't the GOP who filed an appeal specifically on behalf of BP (and won); that was Salazar. And Bush wasn't the largest recipient of BP campaign cash in 20 years, Obama was.

You can knock off blaming Republicans. The Bush administration sucked, but BIG NEWS FLASH: B.O. has been in office now for 1-1/2 years, and THIS IS ON HIS WATCH.

Norrishall, If we don't drill for the oil then it must be imported. You can preach all day about "gas-guzzling vehicles," but the fact remains that we depend on petroleum-based products like PLASTIC and PHARMACEUTICALS, so the need for oil won't go away.

If we don't drill for it ourselves, then some other country will be drilling for it. The African continent is rich in resources. Nigeria has more oil in its waters than we ever will. So if you really care about the environment and are going to be consistent, if drilling stops here you need to fly to Nigeria and protest over there. Otherwise you are a flaming hypocrite.

Finally, SOME people have read up on the techniques utilized for off-shore drilling; evidently you aren't one of them. There is nothing wrong with off-shore drilling; it is safe and has been done safely for decades. Deep-water drilling is another story. We can still drill offshore without resorting to the deep-water techniques. But only if treehuggers will be willing to compromise. It was pressure from the wackos that forced the deep-water technique to begin with. Allow normal, regular, routine drilling closer to the shore and the rigs won't have to be put so far out.

This kind of thing can not happen if we wish to presume our role as a leading governmental power. Mistakes of this capacity are non-negotiatable and are only to blame on the neglect of management and communication. No respected long term corporation should be so indesplicately foolish. It is uncomprehindable and utmost heart wrenching. My dearest remorse goes to all the animals that lost it all because of a irresponsible corporation


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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