The Minter Report

June 8, 2010

Obama and the Gulf oil leak

Filed under: African Americans — John Minter @ 7:05 pm
Tags: , ,

The inevitable cry has risen to ‘blame Obama’ for the oil leak darkening the waters of the Gulf. That makes for good talk radio and Fox News ‘reporting’ in an election year.

Never mind that many of us drink from the bottle of big oil companies like BP every day in our SUVs, F150s or Silverado 2500’s. Even the best of us are prone to make those quick drives to the corner store in the family sedan for a six-pack of beer, a pack of cigarettes or a half-gallon of milk and a dozen eggs.

Not surprisingly, some of the Administration’s harshest critics are the same folks who yelled “Drill, baby, Drill” not too long ago.

The reality is that off-shore oil drilling has been a cash cow for the “threatened” Gulf Coast region for years, providing jobs and tax monies many inland states have long envied. The likelihood of a spill was as probable as the plane and train crashes which occur every year. So now its time to pay the piper and everybody wants to cast blame.

Obama is no more to blame for the spill than Bush was for Hurricane Katrina, which didn’t do the major damage to New Orleans. Most of the damage occurred when the man-made levees – which local and state government neglected to fix – failed, flooding the city. Criticism of the Bush Administration is for the aftermath of the disaster – the empty FEMA trailers, the slow flow of financial assistance, and so forth.

For now, the immediate problem is stopping the Gulf leak. And its clear nobody knows how to do that. Not BP. Not the federal government. And certainly not the arm-chair and Monday-morning critics seeking to make political hay out of a disaster.

For now, it is BP’s responsibility to stop the leak. Not unless those who would have the federal government take a hands-off attitude to Wall Street’s blunders are taking the opposite stance in this case.

It is time to stop counting votes before each press conference and let those who are responsible, with government assistance where appropriate, do their best to stop the flow of oil into the gulf. The federal, state and local government roles will be in minimizing the impact of blackened beaches and decimated fishing.

We have a tort system to affix and assess blame for any mismanagement or neglect responsible for the leak. Did some cost-conscious business use faulty parts? Did some individual not follow proper safety procedures? Was it sabotaged? Frankly, no one yet knows the answer to those questions. Until we do, focus must be on stopping the spill and saving as much of the Gulf Coast’s economies and wild life as possible.

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