It seems everyone’s reading “Avertible Catastrophe,” the Financial Post’s amazingly analysis of the BP oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico. As I read it, I started putting together a list of the identifiable errors and mistakes the Obama administration made. And as I made that list, I noticed that they had hit so many of the classic categories of blunders that it could almost serve as a textbook example of how NOT to do things.
1) The Perfect Is The Enemy Of The Good.
The Dutch government owns quite a few oil-skimming vessels that have tremendous capacity. They can suck up huge amounts of oil-laden water and remove most of the oil.
But the EPA won’t let them work on this disaster. The Dutch ships don’t meet US standards. According to those rules, water returned to the sea must be 99.9985% clean. The Dutch ships fall short of that metric, and don’t have the capability to store and carry that water ashore for more thorough cleaning.
Let’s say that the Dutch ships remove only 95% of the oil in the water. Isn’t that still a hell of a lot better than nothing?
2) We Are The Smartest In The World.
Also known as the “NIH” syndrome — “Not Invented Here.” To acknowledge that others might have good ideas — even, possibly, better ideas — would be to acknowledge that the Obama administration does not have all the answers, and that others might have a good idea or two. And if those outsiders are part of the oil industry, that’s even worse.
3) No One Else Must Be Allowed To Win.
The Obama administration must own all actions taken in this disaster. Couched in the context of “we want to make sure it’s done right,” they have worked to block efforts by those not directly under their control. That way, they don’t have to risk others getting credit for successes — and, consequently, proving that the Obama administration is not the best and brightest. That would diminish the reputation of the Obama administration, and that would not be tolerable.
4) Never Let A Crisis Go To Waste.
There’s a school of thought that every crisis is also an opportunity. Indeed, there’s an old urban legend that the Chinese word for “crisis” is formed by combining the characters for “danger” and “opportunity.”
The Obama administration has indeed seized on this crisis as an opportunity to push its own agenda. It’s trying like hell to impose a ban on all offshore drilling in the Gulf, which will throw thousands and thousands out of work and seriously bone the US economy. It shook down BP into forfeiting its legal protection under existing liability laws and giving up a $20 billion “compensation” fund to be administered by Obama’s hand-picked crony, with no oversight whatsoever (and legally arranged to come ahead of other BP creditors should they file bankruptcy). It’s using it as a cudgel to beat up on the entire oil industry. It’s making serious hay in denouncing and blaming “Big Business” and the Republicans for destroying the Gulf Coast.
In the rush to let as little of this crisis to go waste, though, they’re forgetting one little detail: they’re not doing a hell of a lot to stop the ongoing disaster and start the cleanup. Indeed, it almost looks like they’re willing to let the leaking go on and on and on until they’ve wrung every bit of opportunity for political gain out of it.
But as I noted yesterday, of the four states that are currently being threatened by the oil, three of them voted for McCain in 2008 — and the fourth barely went for Obama. They’re all southern states, red (or almost red) states, all part of “Jesusland” or “Redneckistan.” So screw ’em.
There are times when you have to set politics aside, when you have to rise above your prejudices and biases and simply accept any and all hands willing to offer assistance, when you have to recognize that your foes might have something to offer.
This disaster in the Gulf should have been one of those times, for our “post-racial,” “post-partisan” president. But it seems he doesn’t want to be the president of all Americans, even those who didn’t vote for him.
I find myself selfishly glad that New Hampshire voted for Obama in 2008. Should we face a disaster of this magnitude any time soon, at least I won’t be worried that we will get the “Gulf Treatment” from the Obama administration.