13 June 2010

The downward spiral

I just returned to the Midwest from a weeklong vacation in Destin, Florida. The BP oil spill made it within 30 miles of Destin -- to the beaches in Pensacola, west of us -- but never reached shore. It was a beautiful vacation and the beaches, world-class.

During my vacation, the White House press corps -- fresh off their games of grab-ass with Rahm Emanuel and the Bidens -- paid enough attention to their journalistic responsibilities to illuminate the fact that despite the passage of nearly eight weeks since the spill began, President Obama still has not spoken with Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP. Yes, BP possesses the technology to cap the spill, but they are effectively a government contractor serving at the pleasure of the United States government, and this is the biggest environmental disaster in American history. After press secretary Robert Gibbs protested to the press corps that Hayward isn't necessarily the one in charge of day-to-day operations and such is the responsibility of the Board of Directors, NBC's Chip Reid first pointed out that Gibbs clearly has no clue about corporate governance, and second, asked Gibbs whether, alternatively, Obama has spoken with any members of BP's Board.

Gibbs of course said no, he hadn't.

Americans want leadership from their president. If Obama really wanted to make a difference, he'd be on the phone with Hayward daily and members of the Board weekly, and eight weeks in, he'd be launching full-scale criminal proceedings against BP's officers and directors. It was nothing short of gross negligence that caused this catastrophe, and if BP -- the entity solely responsible for the spill and the one who bears the responsibility for cleaning it up -- can't figure out a solution, then it's the job of the executive branch to break out the proverbial sticks until they do. BP is a multi-squillion-dollar company, which has reaped record profits year after year by engaging in risky behavior. They must be held accountable. If Obama can't make them accountable, then he shouldn't be president.

Furthermore, why have each of the Gulf state governors, to a man, said that they have inadequate amounts of boom and skimming vessels? Governor Riley of Alabama specifically noted on Face the Nation this morning that it's difficult for even him to determine who exactly is in charge of the cleanup portion of the spill.

This is precisely why we so heartily supported John McCain for president in 2008. Yes, he's temperamental, and yes, he enjoys kicking his base in the teeth, but McCain is a leader with a proven track record of accomplishments and an uncanny instinct for the right cause. From campaign finance to balanced budgets to pork barrel spending to the Gang of 14 to the Iraq surge, McCain is a tireless advocate for that which is right, and a crusader against that which the likes of the back-benching Obama have come to represent.

Say what you will about President Bush -- and here, we have said a lot -- but he always led from the front. On the stimulus package, on Gitmo, on health care, on budgets, and yes, now on the oil spill response, Obama has proven himself time and again as aloof and reactionary. The crucible of the American presidency has shown us plenty about Barack Obama -- namely, that he isn't a leader.

As Chris Matthews astutely noted a few weeks ago, Obama acts like the liberal Democratic senator from Illinois, and not the President of the United States. This is precisely what we warned about two years ago. What in this man's past indicated to anyone that he would be an effective chief executive?

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