Exploring the Eclipse of Equality

Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Not the Crime but the Cover-up: How Obama fell into the Gulf

In Domestic Politics, Media and Politics on June 15, 2010 at 6:15 am

As you prepare to watch the President’s speech from the Oval Office tonight (unless other matters demand your time and attention), you might ask yourself why it is that this President is being blamed for this disaster. After all he did win the election against his opponent John “drill baby drill” McCain. Sure, the president did announce support for more offshore drilling just weeks before the disaster, and he did not clean house in the Minerals Management Service (MMS), which is a poster child for fox in the henhouse regulatory capture. But what caught Obama up in this imbroglio was not the crime of allowing BP to play Russian roulette with the Gulf of Mexico, but rather the cover-up afterward in which BP tried to assure the American people that the extent of the damage was going to be far less than it actually turned out to be.

When the President took office, he did have a lot going on: two wars, a run on the banks, the fall of the auto industry, depression era stagnation, health care, student loans, etc. When it came to energy policy he must have thought that  splitting the middle with the Republican Party made sense. Obama was pushing for Cap and Trade, a climate approach that relied on market forces that could be used to cut a deal across party lines on energy reform. How bad could it be to rely on some mix of deep sea drilling given that the world’s nearly 7 million people need energy and must get it somehow. The gulf rigs did make it through Katrina after all.  Here was a chance to be a uniter and not a divider.

This thinking actually made political sense to me at the time. I did not come out and say this then, but I thought that Obama was being quite savvy in his move to allow the Governors with a taste for more risk to take on more drilling off their own state’s shores. Remember how vicious the attacks on his lack of bi-partisanship were at the time as the health care vote loomed. Obama will face similar problems with nuclear power as we simultaneously confront increasing needs and global competition.

But this reasonable move to cross party cooperation was not what sunk Obama, instead the day that will live in infamy was May 14th 2010, when NPR commissioned an analysis of the flow rate from a scientist at Purdue university with expertise in estimating flow rates from video. If you recall this story, it was a shocker and could have been a pivotal moment for the President, but Obama did not take the bait. Because BP was engaged in an active spin campaign to play down the panic that would attend the validation of such estimates, Obama’s lack of attention to these findings, (which were confirmed by other experts at the time as well), placed him symbolically on the side of the cover-up. Up to that point most people seemed to have the reasonable sense that Obama was far less associated with careless drilling operations than the next best alternative: Sarah palin. After that, the slow transfer of ownership was underway. Today, the spill is widely blamed on Obama’s lack of oversight at MMS. Read the rest of this entry »

Obama’s AEI Beachhead: Norm Ornstein on Fire

In Domestic Politics on April 14, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Looking at the range of Obama domestic and foreign policies, and his agency and diplomatic appointments, my conclusion is clear: This president is a mainstream, pragmatic moderate, operating in the center of American politics; center-left, perhaps, but not left of center. The most radical president in American history? Does Newt Gingrich, a PhD in history, really believe that [expletive]?

Norman Ornstein in The Washington Post

I have followed Norman Ornstein, who is a resident scholar at the right of center American Enterprise Institute, for some time now. He has written some of the most convincing defenses of Obama’s centrist approach to politics that I have seen. I won’t say much about what he finds and who he is right now other than to say, read this piece from today’s Washington Post. Norm is writing a piecemeal retort to Glenn Beck’s book Arguing with Idiots. We might call Ornstein’s book Arguing with Ideologues: How to stop scant facts and adequate exaggerations. It is worth reading the article just for the list of centrist moves that Obama has taken. The times are radical, but Obama is not. After reading this, you can remember exactly how obvious this is.

After reading today’s powerful and convincing discussion of extremist and implausible rhetoric coming from the right, turn back and see an earlier one he wrote about Obama’s legislative successes. The earlier piece is less biting, but is really so contrary to what we read at the time (it was written when health care reform was being pilloried and Obama mocked for having accomplished nothing) that it stood Read the rest of this entry »