Sen. Bill Nelson took a bold step today demanding the government step in and take over clean-up of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. This comes on the heels of gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink sending a strongly-worded letter to President Obama crying out for help. Partisan politics delayed these calls to action far too long.
The Obama administration has tragically fallen far short of expectations on this whole affair. The White House has been too trusting of BP's own estimates of the spill. The Coast Guard is startlingly defensive of CEO Tony Hayward, with Commandant Thad Allen stating absurdly he was "satisfied with the coordination that's going on." Interior Secretary Ken Salazar backs further drilling, despite stark evidence companies don't have the necessary technology to deal with this sort of devestation. And Obama himself has yet to rescind a poorly-timed announcement of support for drilling.
For too long, nuts on the right were the only loud voices being on the spill. When conservative blogs aren't completely minimizing the oil spill's devestation, they have dubbied this Obama's Katrina. I find such labels laughable and futile, as they both remind people of a screw-up by your guy and juxtapose events so specific and devastating that the comparison is at best imperfect. This is very different from Katrina other than geographic proximity. The spill is a man-made disaster. The response was deemed the responsibility of a private company, so the federal government was not just slow but absent. The impact of this will be economic and environmental, with no direct consequence as bad as the loss of life in a major American city but with effects which will linger for years.
This is not Obama's Katrina. This is Obama's BP. And unless there is a major turnaround, people for years will reference it as one of the major screw-ups by the White House.
The problem has been that BP was allowed to dictate remediation efforts, and they have different interests in mind than the public good. Even now, the company is trying to find alternatives to a top kill. I don't know why such a maneuver wasn't the first thing done, but I have my suspicions. The company would prefer a way to contain the oil, to keep a flow going while stopping the spillage. From a corporate point-of-view, this makes sense. Why destroy this resource if you don't have to completely kill flow? But we are far, far beyond the point where that mindset is acceptable.
Obama reportedly said today that BP should "plug the damn hole." It seems so obvious. So why hasn't he said anything until now? The interests of America are not being met by this company. It is like hiring convicts to install security systems because they no more about theft, and hoping they have the interests of your bank at heart. BP intrinsically can't be trusted, and their own actions have confirmed that if anyone had a doubt.