A driller’s lament

    The Gulf oil spill is, above all, an environmental calamity and an economic disaster for the people of the gulf. But it is also political theater.
    Chris Satullo argues in this week’s “Centre Square” commentary that, while Barack Obama’s performance is getting panned by some critics, it’s important to remember he didn’t author this the tragic script.

     

    [audio: satullo20100606.mp3]

    Most of us can agree, I’d imagine, that the Obama administration has made a political hash out of the Gulf oil spill.

    The president hasn’t nailed either half of the required theatrics: the righteous rage toward BP and the rest, of the Clintonesque quivering lip that shows he feels the Gulf Coast’s pain.

    But we do understand a few things, don’t we? The latest Gallup Poll suggests that many of us do. Such as:

    The inability to stem the leak is a technical issue, not one of political will. It is a failure of engineering know-how, not leadership.

    It’s not that people aren’t trying to stop the oil from gushing. They’ve tried everything they could think of, and nothing worked.

    And that’s the scary thing.

    Which drives you back to deeper points. What in the world were we doing letting corporations drill this deep if we couldn’t curb the damage should something go wrong? And why let corporations follow their own judgment when it comes to keeping things from going terribly wrong?

    Those mistakes date back to long before the current president.

    Some people now deem it very bad form to point out that any current calamity is very significantly the fault of George W. Bush. Of course, many of the people who say that have spent the last 40 years blaming everything that goes wrong in America on a couple of Supreme Court decisions and a few hairy protesters back in the 60s.

    Fact is, we do have political parties in this country, and they are different.

    Only one party has made a national project out of limiting rules on business and defanging the agencies that enforce those rules. Only one party chants Drill, Baby, Drill!

    As you may have heard, the agency that was supposed to help prevent calamities like the spill is a mess, a watchdog put to sleep by bribes as cheap as tickets to a football game.

    Ask yourself: Which president was himself a driller, who made it his agenda to to put industry executives in charge of the agencies that regulate industry?

    Hint, it wasn’t Barack Obama. It was that guy before him.

    Just thought I’d mention that before we all swallow hole the emerging media theme that the spill is Obama’s Katrina.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.