Politics: Obama’s Katrina

By Jeffrey Bradley

“We’ll make sure that public transportation is both available and affordable…” —Barack Obama

Day 50 and counting.

Deepwater Horizon

Too bad all those “top hat,” “top kill” and “junk shot” efforts to cap the undersea oil well failed. They kind of sound like a weird sports jargon, for curling or baseball. Still, we were heartened to learn “a small hose” is siphoning off part of that noxious swill. We’ll be sure to tell the gulls and pelicans. Either way, we have it on good authority that all will be capped and under control by the November elections.

Question is, this disaster may have many fathers but, what the hell are doing drilling 5,000 feet down in the Gulf of Mexico?

Also, when do we plan on overthrowing this dependency on a 19th century energy source and get with the modern times?

Unfortunately, President Obama keeps mouthing the words “alternate energy sources” and “a commitment to public transportation” as if that was a mantra when, in fact, it was only the onslaught of opprobrium attending the worst environmental catastrophe since Chernobyl that caused the administration to “rescind” more permits for continuing drilling on a much grander scale. Say, isn’t this the same president who, as candidate, declared his rival’s proposal to allow offshore drilling making “absolutely no sense at all”? Hey, what do we know—no doubt that’s “just politics.” He couldn’t possibly be in cahoots with the cheap oil status quo, right? A main reason actually, and one we haven’t heard of yet, is that environmental diktat has put us here.

An image from the National Center for Atmospheric Research computer model of the flow of Deepwater Horizon oil. (Image courtesy NCAR)

For sure, environmentalists have succeeded in putting a lot of the Atlantic coast off-limits to drilling, made possible, really, by a series of Democrat fiats. Think of it: We can’t drill on the Continental Shelf, nor on land—that safest of all places—nor even drill where the oil is: in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (There’s a ban.)

But don’t get us wrong. We think all drilling is heinous with only one outcome: a series of eco-disasters. Left to us and we’d slap a $12 surcharge on every gallon of gas you buy. You wanna pollute the world because you’ve gotta sit in gridlock somewhere fouling the atmosphere, then you pay for it, mate.

To get that cheap gas we’ve got to go ultra deep, beyond the cutting edge of technology. It’s no surprise that we had that blowout; the wonder is it didn’t happen sooner. Death, infamy and chaos attend oil production. But if we have to drill, then why not in the frozen Arctic? (Republicans are no better; they’d have derricks sitting right off our shoreline and blighting the view. From the beach it would look like a gaggle of Martian fighting machines ready to start honking their horns and wade ashore to obliterate everything. After all, these are the same guys that think bicycles pollute.)

Oil spills are always catastrophic. Witness the wrecked lives, the dead animals, the appalling way that staining slick has spread through the ocean sea. So how has drilling gone from tundra to tourist, from the back of beyond to the busiest recreation locale on Earth?

Gulf Cleanup Efforts

And not that environmentalists are solely to blame; there’s plenty of that for all. For instance, Federal officials raging against BP are merely deflecting attention. Interior was especially lax, and now threatens to “push [BP] out of the way.” And do what? Put Nancy Pelosi in charge? This administration may be very good at passing out earmarks, but when it comes to capping a deep-sea oil well, it hasn’t a clue.

So when the president claims he needs to know “whose ass to kick”, we respectfully suggest he start with the contractor’s in charge of that clean-up who made sure, when the president arrived, to have plenty of workers on hand visibly cleaning, but let ‘em all go the second the president left. That, according to Oil Mop, Inc.—the contractor—was just a coincidence. Sure, and some people actually believe that that Gaza-bound ship was on a humanitarian mission.

But here’s a newsflash for the president: When you’ve got a huge oil blowout 15 months into your administration, after your own Interior Department gave this kind of dangerous drilling a “categorical” environmental exemption in April 2009, then it’s no longer Bush’s fault. It’s your problem, Mr President, so man up, and get on with fixing it up.

Notice that we haven’t mentioned BP as one of the chief culprits. This is because, weasly tho’ they are (and they are weasly), two things here are in play: 1) There’s no virtue in BP, only self-interest, so why would they not want to cap that well? Every day of leaked oil means millions more in cleanup and restitution, and 2) If the price of gas was astronomically high they wouldn’t be prowling these deep-sea trenches searching for profit—the risk would be too great. So every time you fill up that SUV, Gertrude, you enable them and put your imprimatur on the actions of elected officials and entrenched interests that’ll do anything to keep the oil flowing.

Either way, it’s all shaping up as Obama’s Katrina. If this gusher ain’t capped by August then this administration is toast.

Which is really unfair, because Obama is no more responsible for this calamity than Bush was for Katrina. Still, for a man immodest about his own powers, we do expect more. Isn’t he the one that said to mark his presidency as the moment when “our planet began to heal” and “the rise of the oceans began to slow”? For someone imbued with such Merlin-like powers, stopping a little oil from ruining the Gulf can’t be too hard. Easy, in fact, as putting gas into your car.

And by the way—the more we rely on alternative transit like streetcars and bikes, the less likely this kind of hideous outcome will happen.

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