I told you this would happen. The White House's political strategists see no choice but to shift public focus away from the President and the Administration and toward BP and other big oil industry giants. I'm not saying there isn't a criminal aspect to what BP and other corporations did or didn't do, but this probe has nothing to do with right and wrong. It's all about politics and the failure of this president and the failure of this administration to respond properly to the disaster.
Unfortunately, this administration is hamstrung by process. It is all about holding meetings and intellectualizing and looking ahead to its own political future. This morning, on Good Morning America, George Stephanopolous stood on the banks of a Louisiana quay talking about the spill and showing the public a huge quarters barge slated to house oil spill response workers. The barge was completely empty. In the background were large OSVs and other oil field service vessels sitting idle. It was 7:00 in the morning and there was almost nothing going on. How can that be?
The oil slick/sheen in the Gulf covers more than 30,000 square miles. It has reached about 100 miles of Louisiana coastline. It is underwater in plumes that may stretch 30 miles or more. It is in the Loop Current off the Florida west coast and threatens to turn the corner and head up the U.S. East Coast. It is one day away from the famed white sand beaches of Pensacola. It threatens Cuba and Jamaica and lies in wait for the next hurricane.
Why are there ships still tied to the docks in Louisiana? Why aren't ships out at sea trying to clean up this mess while it is at sea?
Everyone is focused on BP's effort to try and cap the leak, but virtually nothing is being done to clean up the spill other than a few people with mops and rags on the beaches and in the marshes. Pitiful, just pitiful.
Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, Berkley Professor and political commentator, has suggested putting BP under receivership so the government can take over the entire operation. I have heard some stupid ideas in my time but this one really is hysterical. If BP can't put a stop to the leak, how is the government going to do it? Does Reich think the brightest and most talented oil leak remediation specialists are in the government? Does he really believe a guy working for $46,000 a year at the Department of Labor or the Army Corp of Engineers or the EPA or FEMA or USCG or, here's a real laugh, MMS, will have a better handle on this thing than the engineers and specialists at the largest oil company in the world? Robert Reich, shut the hell up! You don't know what you're talking about!
The government needs to take over only one aspect of this emergency and that is the spill clean-up aspect. It's what they should have been doing from the start. Not twiddling their thumbs and having meetings and holding hearings and calling for investigations. The EPA, USCG, FEMA and Army Corp of Engineers are trained, educated and equipped to handle spill emergencies. They should be using presidential authorization to get everything they need in manpower and equipment.
The Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, has been almost frantic with calls to the government to approve the use of sand berms to protect wetlands. But as I've said here before, nobody can make a move without approval and authorization from all the appropriate government agencies, the USCG, EPA, Army Corp, etc. And so far, even though Jindal has been asking for permission for weeks, no such approval has been given. Apparently, the decision makers at the agencies in charge are worried about tidal effects. They can bypass environmental laws and regulations for oil company leases and safety precautions, they can ignore localized public sentiment and authorize the construction of massive wind farms in environmentally sensitive coastal areas off Massacheusetts . . . but they can't get off their asses and permit the construction of temporary sand berms to keep oil off the Louisiana coast, nor can they mobilize an effective oil clean-up fleet to attack this spill while it's still at sea.