I wonder if the president knows what a disaster this is not only for him but for his political assumptions. His philosophy is that it is appropriate for the federal government to occupy a more burly, significant and powerful place in America—confronting its problems of need, injustice, inequality. But in a way, and inevitably, this is always boiled down to a promise: “Trust us here in Washington, we will prove worthy of your trust.” Then the oil spill came and government could not do the job, could not meet need, in fact seemed faraway and incapable: “We pay so much for the government and it can’t cap an undersea oil well!” – He Was Supposed to Be Competent – The spill is a disaster for the president and his political philosophy.
Stuff happens, America. Don’t blame BP. Oh, and by the way, you’re on your own. This philosophy will work for Tea Party politicians like Rand Paul until a catastrophe hits Kentucky. As for Noonan, the latest Tea Party ranter, it will take something more personal. You know, like a bug in her scone.
Nobody has been more on point in their critique of Pres. Obama’s handling of BP’s blowout than myself. But to read Peggy Noonan’s words you’d think she would prefer putting BP in charge of the entire energy policy of the United States. Get a load of this opening: I don’t see how the president’s position and popularity can survive the oil spill. It’s not Newt Gingrich calling Pres. Obama Stalin, but it’s close.
Ms. Noonan has simply lost her political touch, never mind that she was hoisted on her own fact-free rhetoric by repeating that the EPA head actually attended a New York fundraiser as BP’s oil disaster widened. It’s bad enough that the Obama administration had dueling fundraisers planned, but the one to which Noonan refers was, thankfully, canceled. I only wish Pres. Obama’s was as well.
In fact, Ms. Noonan gets the facts on government, politics, business, and Obama exactly wrong.
BP’s criminal malfeasance actually proves the need for a strong federal government when it comes to protecting the American people from businesses that have no social conscience.
BLOOMBERG: The 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects fowl. The Refuse Act, part of the 1899 Rivers and Harbors Act, outlaws industrial discharge in navigable waters. OK, they are both misdemeanors punishable by minor fines, but stay with me here.
Even a misdemeanor conviction would remove the $75 million cap on damages that the Oil Pollution Act sets. BP says it will pay all legitimate damages from the spill, regardless of the cap, but fisherman still suffering from the Exxon Valdez spill 20 years ago would urge caution in believing such promises.
Bumping it up a notch by showing negligence, prosecutors can win a conviction under the Clean Water Act, and there’s every reason to believe that can be shown here. Negligence means an absence of due care, say in keeping the blowout preventer working to, um, prevent a catastrophic blowout, for example. [...]
Pres. Obama’s political philosophy is not “a disaster.” What has been proven a colossal catastrophe is the deregulation that began under Ms. Noonan’s boss, former Pres. Ronald Reagan. From Wall Street to the oil industry to the media, especially our airwaves, no one was more responsible in kick-starting the deregulation fervor on the right than Reagan.
Pres. Obama has made innumerable errors since that first conference call by Thad Allen, on which I reported. The first was leaving BP on point. No one will convince me otherwise, especially after email conversations I’ve had with oil experts. BP has also continually proven my point by lying to the public, keeping the press away from the beaches where the oil has had the most impact, as well as shifting numbers to cover their corporate bottom line. I cannot put it any simpler than to say you simply can’t trust BP. They are not capable of transparency and open communication, so Pres. Obama putting our fate and his political hide on the line is absurd.
Com. Thad Allen is of impeccable competence, but he can only do what the Dept. of Interior and the feds allow; one job continually to keep civic and federal responsibility separate. There is just not enough visible task force grouping for each impacted zone in the disaster’s wake. Joe Scarborough did a good job with Allen this morning on “Morning Joe,” asking him about the lake of oil I’ve been talking about on the BBC for the past days. All Allen could offer is that NOAA is now studying it and he’s not sure of the final analysis. NOAA has failed miserably in being on the job, which proves just how unprepared our government is. EPA is MIA.
One dangerous section in Noon’s column amidst the drivel does, however, stand out:
What continues to fascinate me is Mr. Obama’s standing with Democrats. They don’t love him. Half the party voted for Hillary Clinton, and her people have never fully reconciled themselves to him. But he is what they have. They are invested in him. In time—after the 2010 elections go badly—they are going to start to peel off. The political operative James Carville, the most vocal and influential of the president’s Gulf critics, signaled to Democrats this week that they can start to peel off. He did it through the passion of his denunciations.
There are indeed some Clinton supporters who “have never fully reconciled themselves to him.” I just happen not to be one of them. But in the climate we’re in, as a political analyst, when I tell the truth as I see it, people see what they choose to see, which invariably leads into idiotic ramblings questioning my loyalties. So let me be clear yet again. I have no loyalty to any politician; with my only focus being the truth as I can gather it, digest it, convey it, as I see it.
As for Ms. Noonan’s notion that Mr. Carville has sent some signal Democrats “can start to peel off” from Obama, it’s ludicrous. People are sufficiently disgusted with the federal government and “Washington,” but also Congress, that they need no help. Pres. Obama allowing BP to run the show down in the Gulf simply proves perceptions that began years ago under the feckless presidency of George W. Bush.
The strongest message from Noonan’s column on the BP blowout should be to Democrats. We’ve got a group of politicians who have been far too timid about regulations, whom Noonan champions. Building up federal agencies to combat corporate marauders is in the people’s interest and why we pay taxes. The handling of the BP catastrophe proves many things, but not that we need less government.
It’s incomprehensible that we now have “small government” conservatives and Tea Party hacks railing about what government should be doing, when they’re the ones who want to strangle it. If you think things are bad now in the Gulf, and they are, imagine it if “small government” conservatives, the ones who have no respect for the actual role in government, would do if Peggy got her way.
But at least Ms. Noonan can finally relax, take off her establishment blue, and settle in with the folks. She’s gone Tea Party.