Unlike the previous president, when faced with a crisis Obama takes charge immediately and when things don't go swimmingly he takes responsibility. Today Obama spoke about the ongoing gusher in the Gulf and answered the toughest questions he could get from a hostile press corps. He chose his questioners knowing exactly what he'd get. I know the names so well myself that I could have predicted the kinds of questions he'd be asked. No one said change was easy - in fact I do believe it was he previous guy in charge who said, "presidentin' is hard work!"
This is how he concluded his opening statements: “In the meantime, my job is to get this fixed. And in case anybody wonders — in any of your reporting, in case you’re wondering who’s responsible, I take responsibility. It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down.
“That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. It doesn’t mean it’s going to happen right away or the way I’d like it to happen. It doesn’t mean that we’re not going to make mistakes. But there shouldn’t be any confusion here. The federal government is fully engaged, and I’m fully engaged.”
He took some concrete steps about future drilling today: He suspended planned exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean off of Alaska until at least 2011. Canceled a pending lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico and a proposed lease sale off the Virginia coast. Continued an existing moratorium on any new offshore drilling and suspending the issuance of new deepwater well permits for six months. And Suspended action on 33 deepwater exploratory wells being drilled in the Gulf of Mexico.
So make of it what you will. There are massive risks in owning this BP disaster - if oil keeps spilling it will be him who takes the blame; not the incompetent and greedy who are actually responsible. It could be a defining moment for him, and whether or not that's fair is unimportant.
Personally, I believe he is a thoughtful and pretty conservative man who is doing the toughest job in the world. My only criticism (and it's small beer) is that he hasn't been forceful enough in standing up for his beliefs and those that elected him. But then he's President of the entire US not just those who voted for him. Still, he got a health care reform bill passed and today they repealed don't ask don't tell to count among his accomplishments and he is just getting started. Sadly the spill in the Gulf doesn't have that kind of time to be made right and it could derail the rest of his agenda. Let's hope that doesn't happen.
In a previous post about the BP Valdez I talked about the 1979 spill of more than 126 million gallons of oil in the Gulf by the Ixtoc I - here's an interesting scientific article on the difference between the spills and why the results will probably not mirror one another. A couple of interesting notes in the article, one being that the Exxon spill was probably far greater than the oft reported figure of 11 million barrels. and was more likely upwards of 24 million and he debunks the ""no oil was spilled during Katrina" myth.
Interview With Environmental Artist Franke James (part the 2nd) - Here's the second part of my freewheeling interview with environmental artist and activist Franke James. We discuss the pro-active philosophy that guides...