Words Never Spoken

Tuesday night, I didn’t watch President Obama’s address. I had a ten-year-old video game and a TV rerun that drew more of my interest. But I’ve seen clips and read a transcript, and I really didn’t miss much.

Since then, I’ve seen a lot of people talking about what they wish they’d heard from the president. So I figured I’d take a swing at it and write a statement that I wish he’d given. The major differences are that I would have given mine sooner, and I’ve had eight weeks’ worth of Obama’s patented incompetence to draw upon in hindsight.

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“My fellow Americans: as you know, we face an ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The tragic explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which killed eleven men, is spewing tremendous amounts of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. This poses a grave threat to not only the five states that border it, but potentially many of the states on the Atlantic — and the repercussions of this spill could affect every single state.

To confront this crisis, I am marshaling the full resources of the federal government. We fully intend to work hand in hand with BP to stop the deluge. We stand ready to provide whatever resources they might need.

As part of that process, I am appointing a “spill czar” to coordinate the federal response. I will be meeting with this individual on a daily basis, and their first priority will be to identify and resolve any kinds of bureaucratic snags or complications or restrictions.

Further, we have received numerous offers of assistance from other nations who have had their own oil disasters. Currently, US law forbids foreign-flagged ships from working in US waters, but there is a provision in the Jones Act where I can suspend that in case of emergency. I am hereby invoking that clause, and we welcome the assistance of other nations, starting with the Dutch. When other nations have natural disasters, we have always been among the first to render aid. We are not so arrogant that we think we can handle all our problems on our own, and will take this opportunity to deepen our ties with other nations.

Let me be clear on this point: our first priority is to stop the leak — period. In fact, that is our only priority. All other concerns regarding this matter are being put on the back burner until the flow of oil into the Gulf is stemmed.

Once that has been achieved, then — and only then — will we deal with the questions of responsibility and liability and cleaning up. As any doctor will tell you, if you have a patient who’s bleeding severely, you don’t test for diseases or worry about insurance coverage or wonder how the patient was cut so badly. You stem the bleeding first.

There will be a full investigation into the causes of this disaster, and every other deep water oil rig will be given a full safety inspection — once we have secured this leak. We will do all we can to find out what caused the explosion, in order to prevent anything like this from happening ever again. And if any laws were broken, if any regulations were bypassed, then we shall address that with the full force of the law.

But make no mistake: in this, we shall also look to the medical model. In medicine, the guiding principle is “first, do no harm.” We will not seek the destruction or nationalization of BP, a company that employs many thousands of Americans. We see no benefit in throwing them all out of work. Likewise, we will not impose any kind of blanket ban on offshore drilling without evidence that there is a clear and present danger, as that would also cost thousands of Americans their jobs and further curtail our own oil supplies.

In the long term, though, this disaster has brought the hazards of deep water oil drilling to the forefront — and the dangers of our current energy situation as well. So tonight I am announcing a full-court press on the issue of our nation’s energy future.

There have been arguments about how we should move forward on energy. There are very intelligent, very sincere, very principled people who advocate for and against various options, and their disagreements are honest ones.

So instead of choosing one, we will pursue many. We shall try as many options as we can, and see which ones bear fruit — and which are not feasible at this time. And in the process, some people who are opposed to certain options will have to accept that the nation’s needs come first, as well as turn to people who aren’t overly popular among certain circles. When it comes to our nation’s future, I intend to call upon the patriotism of these people to set aside political differences and concerns for the common good.

We shall pursue a prototype large-scale solar energy project in California. Senator Feinstein, who has staunchly blocked this plan in the Mojave Desert, will have to suck it up.

Wind power is another potential source. There’s a plan to set up wind turbines off Cape Cod, in Massachusetts. The leaders of the opposition to Cape Wind were the late Senator Kennedy and Senator Kerry. I call upon Senator Kerry to come aboard this project.

Nuclear power is also a very viable option that we have neglected for decades. One of the biggest holdups has been the management of the toxic waste the process creates. The best plan has been to use Nevada’s Yucca Mountain as a repository for nuclear waste, but there has been great resistance to this program. It is long past time Senator Reid and his allies stopped throwing up roadblocks to this, and the Department of Energy is inviting applications for new nuclear plants.

One fuel source that has an absolutely minimal environmental impact is natural gas. We need to expand our use of natural gas, as well as our supplies. To take the lead on this, there is one person who, as an elected official, worked very closely with the energy companies on natural gas — but never lost sight of her duties to the people, and always put their interests first. She won concession after concession from the oil companies, and eventually struck firm but fair bargains that benefited all parties. I am asking former governor Sarah Palin to return to public service to serve as my Natural Gas Czar.

But those are all in the future. Right now, we have a tremendous dependency on oil, and that will not change any time soon. We need oil. We need oil today. We need very large quantities of oil. And we need oil in ways that isn’t as risky as deep water drilling.

In pursuit of safer oil, I am relaxing the restrictions on drilling in shallower waters, closer to shore. The main reason the oil companies went to the deeper waters was because they were prevented from drilling in shallower waters. The theory was that if the drilling took place further from shore, the shores would be safer from any disasters like the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

That has been proven to be false comfort. The distance did not provide us safety from danger, just a slight delay. And the difficulties in fixing leaks a mile under the water mean that any leaks will last longer and be harder to stop. So we will be opening up more coastal regions for drilling, where any possible disasters will be much easier to attack.

Likewise, there are places on dry land where we have forbidden oil drilling, places like the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve. Oil disasters on dry land are even easier to correct. So we will be opening more land for drilling in the immediate future.

None of this, however, is of much comfort to those who lost loved ones on the Deepwater Horizon rig, or whose lives and livelihoods are being threatened by the ongoing leak. To those people, I say that the thoughts and prayers of America are with you, that we shall not let you suffer alone, that we shall do all we can to help you weather this storm.

Thank you, and good night.”

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