Obama, Daddy Fever and “reckless” Conservatism

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For going on almost two months most of the usual suspects on the Right have wet their pants in absolute glee over the BP Gulf spill. The spill, according to this cadre of conservative comrades is not the environmental, social and economic disaster that will haunt the United States for decades. No, according to conservatives it is a gift from the political gods to exploit to their political advantage. maybe liberals were feeling left out. It was like a party they saw from a distance and felt the sudden urge to joy in. Ezra Klein at WaPO – Where have we heard this before?

The optimistic take, at least for environmentalists, is that this is the language and approach Obama uses when he really means to legislate. The pessimistic take is that Obama shied away from clearly describing the problem, did not endorse specific legislation, did not set benchmarks, and chose poll-tested language rather than a sharper case that might persuade skeptics.

A couple more liberals, Kevin Drum at MotherJones, Obama’s Oil Spill Speech: Running On Empty

So let’s unpack this a bit. The whole point of a prime time Oval Office speech (transcript here) is that it announces something big. On that score, Obama failed right from the start. He told us that lots of people are already working the cleanup. Yawn. That Ray Mabus is going to develop a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan as soon as possible. A plan! Hurrah! That we’re gonna make BP pay for everything. Roger that. And then this: “I have established a National Commission to understand the causes of this disaster and offer recommendations on what additional safety and environmental standards we need to put in place.” A commission! So much for “going big.”

I somewhat agree with the attitude toward another commission. BP screwed up. The safety guidelines were not enforced as they should have been and years ago the oil lobby convinced Congress during the Bush administration they did not need the kind of back-up shut down valve that is required by some other nations. One more, Joan Walsh writes Just words: Obama’s Oval Office speech fizzles

I’m not sure anyone walked away from the speech clearer on what Obama will do to hasten the clean up and prevent future disasters. And while I was happy he did make a short pitch for “a strong and comprehensive climate and energy bill,” if you blinked, you missed it. He noted that such a bill had been passed by the House, but he didn’t take the opportunity to describe what’s in it and make the case for its most controversial features, particularly a carbon cap. He didn’t note that the bill is stalled, and considered dead, in the Democratic controlled Senate. He didn’t create any sense of urgency to break the political stalemate that is likely to keep the bill locked up there permanently.

As a political wonk I can appreciate the complaint about not being clear about the energy bill and it’s status. And maybe that was a missed political opportunity, but it is debatable whether the public would have appreciated it or understood – a point that Joan misses – that the Senate has a simple Democratic majority, not a filibuster proof one. Joan, Ezra and Kevin all want the president to be a font of inspiration and to be President Wonk at the same time. There is no one on the political scene today in either party capable of pulling off that trick under these circumstances. I’m not mad at these liberals, it just seems they have caught some of that president as Daddy Fever that is going around. Imagine your favorite dream president and this same catastrophe – not to be confused with war – and the speech would have not made anyone happy. That’s because speeches are not magic, they do not make environmental tragedies of this magnitude go away. There is nothing that Obama or anyone else can say that is going to make me feel better and I don’t expect them to. I expect competent management and considering the magnitude of the Gulf spill that is what we’re getting. I’d give the government a A minus and BP a D-. That’s the frustrating part. You could water broad the entire executive management of BP and the spill and the steps taken to get it under control would not change. Some things around the margins like not harassing reporters, BP having a more cooperative relationship with the people of the Gulf coast and a few other things could stand improvement, but those are issues that should not be conflated with the spill itself.

John Assrocket at the award winning right-wing Powerline remains has made being totally irrelevant into an art, but he does make the liberals look razor-sharp – Obama’s Long Nose June 15, 2010  Posted by John at 8:01 PM

As I noted yesterday, BP’s market capitalization has declined by around 50 percent–$100 billion–as a result of the spill. By any rational measure, BP has been harmed more by the spill than anyone else, even Barack Obama. It serves no purpose to launch unsupported accusations of recklessness. One might say, on the contrary, that it is reckless to do so.

That’s the problem with tin foil hats and a mind like a cheese grater, a lot of stuff gets by, E-mail from BP engineer called Deepwater Horizon rig a ‘nightmare well’ six days before explosion

According to an e-mail released by that Committee yesterday, a BP drilling engineer warned that the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was a “nightmare well” that had caused the company problems in the past.

A nightmare not acted on is “recklessness”. Did Assrocket get his law degree by mail. BP rig’s safety valve failed test before oil spill explosion

BP and Transocean, the contractor, blamed one another for “a cascade of failures” that led to the massive oil spill threatening America’s south-eastern coastline. BP continues its efforts to seal the leak, which is gushing 5,000 barrels per day into the ocean.

It emerged yesterday in the testimony of James Dupree, BP’s senior vice president for the Gulf, that tests before the blast showed “discrepancies” in pressure levels. These tests are meant to ensure the integrity of cement poured into the well to keep out natural gas. Another contractor, Halliburton, had just finished cement work hours before the blast.

“There was something happening in the well bore that shouldn’t be happening,” said Steven Newman, Transocean’s chief executive officer.

A Democrat member of the committee, Bart Stupak, reported that the blowout preventer “apparently had a significant leak”. The device had also been modified in “unexpected ways,” he said, and may not have been strong enough to shut the well.

All the parties involved can blame shift, but for the President to point out the obvious is “reckless” and “unsupported”. Do conservatives know there are free dictionaries on-line so they can look up the meaning of words. John and his coven of  Conservatives Concerned About BP’s Capitalization need not worry, the BP Gulf spill is no longer a catastrophe caused by a reckless greedy short-sighted corporate profiteers, its Obama’s political baggage. True to Assrocketology Powerline also includes this gem,

It’s hard to see how an Oval Office Speech could help much, even if it had not been pedestrian. In fact, the speech offered nothing new, and featured the same BP-bashing and pledges to unleash squadrons of lawyers to collect damages that already grate on most Americans. Obama doesn’t seem to understand how hollow, and sometimes petulant, his vows to make BP pay sound.

“Most Americans” is the two other neanderthals from which he got his snapshot of public opinion. The worse case scenario is that BP has no profits for a year. It currently produces profits of $66 million dollars a day. BP is also in business with Iran’s oil industry ( but conservatives are very cautious about criticizing them). And John might have read that BP killed a few people when the rig blew up. Oil Rig Worker Who Died Had Warned His Family That BP Pressured Him To Sacrifice Safety and In 2002, California officials discovered that BP had falsified inspections of fuel tanks at a Los Angeles-area refinery. BP’s thinking about profits and liability are conservative thinking. Save a few dollars in the short run, cross your fingers and hope that major catastrophe does not happen. No it is not logical. That’s the point. The BP Gulf spill, like Bush’s lies about WMD and cutting taxes for millionaires should have been learning moments for conservatives, but no, they just double down and deflect blame. Once again, so much for conservative “values”.

Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle floated possibility of armed insurrection. Because as we all know, modest, but much needed health care reform is so much worse than lying a nation into a trillion dollar war that has costs over four thousand lives.