Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill: What's The Long Term Plan?

This oil spill deal in the Gulf of Mexico has so many twists and turns and distractions that as bad as it is, as terrible as the situation is that confronts the shorelines of Louisiana, Alabama and Florida, as awful as the hit will be on the environment and the economy of that region, it’s tough to determine if everyone involved in the problem is doing what is needed to fix it and to look deep into the future of the region.

Unfortunately, all the money in the world cannot be thrown at this predicament to make it all better. This is not a Hurricane Katrina state of affairs where homes can be rebuilt and economies can return stronger and more vibrant. This is a situation that, even after surfaces are scrubbed and little evidence of the slimy greasy substance is not visible to the viewer, the quandary will last and last and last. Just ask residences of Alaska who today continue to battle the scares of the giant oil spill by the tanker Valdez.

While in crisis, Americans usually turn to our leaders to make it all better—and it seems none was better at calming our fears than former president Bill Clinton when he was on calamity site and not creating calamity in the Oval Office—but this time, with seemingly so much disagreement going on, even with his few and far between presence along the Gulf Coast, President Obama can’t seem to grasp the situation and calm fears, at least publically.

Actually, nothing will impede the worries until the flow of oil stops spouting from the uncapped well more than 5,000 feet below sea level. And, making matters worse, all tries so far by BP, owner of the well and today’s king of the Evil Empire, have failed. The latest idea of “containing” the flow, limiting dispersing oil escaping into open waters, is underway, but those results are to be seen. All along, we have assumed BP is telling us the truth, and for some reason, we believe that what the United States Government is telling us is the gospel as well. I have my doubts about both sources and am more willing to believe BP and USA.

The latest distraction is criminal investigations by the Obama Administration through the Justice Department to determine if criminal activities took place prior to the explosion on that rig miles and miles south of Louisiana and since then though dissemination of information and the behavior of BP in its efforts to halt the oil from spewing forth. This investigation is purely political and nothing else more than a distraction from what’s important. Because Obama doesn’t get it in how to calm fears, because he’s only a good campaigner and a so-so legislator, and because he not at all a good governor, he’s decided to play the villain card, telling his citizens that he’ll bring the wrong-doers to justice. Ha! Ha! Ha!

Those criminal investigative efforts will not stop the escaping oil, it will not clean up one drop, it will not stop of fears sweeping the coastline and those who live off of the water and its wonderful resources or seafood, tourism and, don’t forget, oil. The efforts by the Justice Department are purely political and not constructive, especially since BP has admitted fault in this accident and is willing to plow unlimited dollars into trying to stop the leak and clean up the mess. Liken this situation to the kid who tells the bully it’s okay to use the kid’s basketball, and THEN the bully says he’ll whip that kid’s rear end if he doesn’t give up the ball for use. BP is willing to work with everyone on this, providing unlimited resources and money, yet Obama and his campaign staff desire to lock up those who write the checks.

What Americans want, in a time of crisis, from its President is compassion and appearance, not participating in fun ceremonies on The White House lawn joking with the Duke Blue Devils basketball team or in enjoyable concerts by Paul McCartney or in fund-raising events in San Francisco or anywhere else. What Americans want from its President is on-site compassion and appearance, not vacations with wonderful photos of him having a good time while stress and concern sweep a region of our own land.

Obama cannot plug the hole in the bottom of the sea, but he can do a lot to calm the fears of the residents in that area just by being there. He doesn’t need to stand in front of microphones and make well-rehearsed speeches with the help of Teleprompters. He doesn’t need to discuss the efforts to stop the oil. He just needs to do a lot of hand-holding. As a matter of fact, with him out of Washington, we all may be better off.

When he was elected, talk was Obama would be another Franklin Roosevelt or John Kennedy, but how he’s handling this crisis makes him more like Jimmy Carter, the worst President we’ve ever had. In that category, Carter is way ahead of George W. Bush, from all angles. Obama’s presidency will be likened to Carter’s just based on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It may not cost him re-election but he’ll have a scar on his presidency as bad as the scar that will be left along the Gulf Coast.

No matter what Obama and his merry men do at this point in time, if he’s not focused publically on the Gulf of Mexico, what he does will fall on deaf ears. Remember, he postponed a trip abroad so he could be around for the Health Care Vote, but he’s not willing to give up the daily and mundane to give this situation the attention and health care that can only come from the President. He can mobilze all the resources available to him, but he needs to mobilize himself.

This is just one of the many twists and turns and distractions of solving the problem of the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I prefer Mr. Obama to stay out of it and leave the efforts up to the experts, one of which he is not, but I would like to see him more Clintonesque this time around. No grandstanding; just concern. Go to the area and hold hands. Don’t made demands and call for investigations of those who are trying to get this under control. Yelling, in a way, at BP might feel good but it doesn’t help the immediate concerns.

This is a long-term project, one that will last way into administrations to come. The Valdez spill was in 1989 and has worked its way into its fourth Administration and it will easily last several more before, if at all, the problem is gone. Turning over rocks in the Valdez spill area continues to reveal oil on shore. In today’s situation, life along the Gulf of Mexico coast, stretching from Louisiana to Alabama to Florida, and maybe further, will change forever. Maybe someone is working on more than containing the oil as it washes ashore, but that’s not evident.

By August—and that’s a very long time—there could be, should be, might be two relief wells drilled to move the oil flow from open water to complete containment, but the deep scars of this disaster will last much, much longer. My question: What’s the long-term plan? Does anyone know?

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