As Gulf oil flow continues, Obama slides away from BP
There's an old story about the Lone Ranger and his Native American partner, Tonto, riding along in the Wild West when suddenly they are surrounded by thousands of angry Indians on the warpath. "Well, Tonto," says the masked white man in the white hat, "It looks like we've come to the end of the trail."
To which the once-trusty Tonto replies, "What you mean 'we,' kemo sabay?"
Now that the worst oil spill in American history is likely to continue for months, numerous signs now indicate the Obama administration is also switching sides -- away from a crisis response partnership with BP toward that of a suddenly aggressive prosecutorial arm of an angry....
...public. Probably just coincidence that this comes barely five months before midterm elections already auguring serious trouble for Democrats.
Such a dramatic switch could help isolate BP as the bad guy and insulate the Democrat administration from at least some criticism, despite its advance approval of the well and safety plans -- and the connection with the preceding Bush administration so obvious to Sen. Chris Dodd, as he tried to claim here in a recent Ticket item.
It's been an awkward BO-BP partnership from Day One, which was about five days before the White House realized the scale of the seeping disaster.
The truth is Washington is clueless about stopping news leaks, let alone high-pressure oil leaks a mile beneath the ocean surface.
So the D.C. politicians must rely on the drilling expertise of the same company that gave so much money to the Obama presidential campaign, while simultaneously trying to dodge the environmental anger and political blame of a watching citizenry who saw the same pols take over evil banks and malfunctioning car companies.
With unimaginably poor timing, a few weeks ago Obama launched the cumbersome procedure to increase offshore oil drilling because the need for more domestic energy supplies was just too pressing to permit any further delays.
Now, those plans and other ongoing efforts are suspended.
Last week Obama opened a rare news conference by saying: "The American people should know that from the moment this disaster began, the federal government has been in charge of the response effort." The slippery buck stops here. So why is the spill continuing then?
Over the weekend the administration stopped sharing the daily oil spill briefing platform with BP.
Today to add further separation Atty. Gen. Eric Holder, who's not so concerned about enforcing existing laws to the fullest extent possible against illegal immigrants, announced in New Orleans that the Justice Department has opened dual criminal and civil probes into the BP spill "to ensure that our laws are enforced to the fullest extent possible."
That should make for a swell working partnership to halt the spill: You bet, we're in this together through thick and thick. However, you should know that anything you say or do can and will be used against you in a court of law.
From a PR point of view, Holder's statement could also help identify to the fullest extent possible the bad guy for the anxious public surrounding all the parties involved in this slippery mess. At least, so EH and BO hope.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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Photo: Charles Dharapak / Associated Press (Obama 6-1-10).