So here we are now, several weeks on and the BP situation is going from bad to worse. What started out as an environmental disaster is heading for something far worse. At risk now is the future of an organisation employing thousands of people around the world (including the United States) the pension funds of untold individuals whose portfolio managers have invested in the blue chip company, the immediate future of the Special Relationship and an American presidency.
Of these, the latter is worth pondering in some detail.
Some eighteen months ago, Barack Hussein Obama came to power in a barrage of good will and even better press. Gone it appeared, were the dark days of W and knee-jerk reactions to events and people. Here, it was believed, was an intelligent and thoughtful individual who would articulate wisely the thoughts and beliefs of a nation to a wider world in such a way as to reinvigorate the United States on the world stage.
Yet in this escapade, one finds the new boss, much like the old boss. With attacks coming from all sides, Obama appears to be asking only one salient question, “What would W do?”
His answer, alas, appears to be to find an easily identified foreign enemy and blast away in an effort to divert attention from American failings. In this he has been aided by a flawed response from BP that has done little if anything to help the situation. Content to put short-term domestic political considerations ahead of long-term international relationships, Obama is falling into a well laid trap that has now seen him equate the incident in the Gulf to 9/11.
All of which will be red meat to the Republicans, who can now say either that Obama is exploiting both tragedies to aid his political ends, or that in so doing, Obama reveals an ignorance of the impact that 9/11 had on the American people. And in both claims they would be absolutely correct. Keep an eye on this and see how it plays out. My guess is that you are going to be hearing this quote over and over again in attack ads in the fall. It is a major mis-calculation by the president and it could well be his undoing in the fall elections.
Obama’s willingness to say and do anything to divert attention away from any debate to do with oversight of the oil business, any discussion concerning the ownership of the platform and the casual ease with which he suggests that private individuals should be fired, is woeful behaviour that would be slammed if it were muttered by any Republican president. It would appear that Obama is still benefiting from a media-love-in that carried this untried, unqualified Senator to the White House.
The effort to prove that this is not Obama’s Katrina is backfiring in ways that could never have been imagined. During Katrina, it simply appeared that Bush could care less about certain elements within American society and that the federal government was inept when it came to dealing with a natural disaster.
Now it appears that Obama could care less about relations with America’s oldest ally, and that the federal government continues to be inept at regulating the oil industry or at responding to environmental disasters. As each day passes, Obama is looking less and less like the great hope, and more and more like a previous Democratic president who came to know the impact that an oil crisis could have on a presidency and paid a heavy price: Jimmy Carter. Unless he is able to find the voice and the direction that propelled him to victory in 2008, Obama risks repeating Carter’s abbreviated occupation of the Oval Office.