Steps Obama could have taken in the Gulf
Obama the powerless seems perplexed as to what it is he could have done to mitigate the BP oil spill from turning into a disaster. Douglas Adams once said, “A learning experience is one of those things that says, ‘You know that thing you just did? Don’t do that.’” In the hopes of making the largest environmental disaster in the history of our civilization a learning experience for President Obama, here are a few suggestions as for what you could have done differently:
- At least act as if it is, indeed, an emergency. Cancel unrelated public appearances once in a while, it’s okay, we can get along without seeing you glad-handing athletes and celebrities for a day or two. This is important for two reasons: first, it tells those who might not know (such as BP), that you take this seriously; second, it might actually give you time to think of things you could be doing about the crisis. Woody Allen was right, 80% of success is just showing up. Show up, physically, emotionally and as a leader. In any crisis, 10% of the people lead, 10% freak out and 80% freeze up and wait for instructions. Being President means you have to be in the first 10%, not the 80%, even when you didn’t ask for this particular crisis.
- Seize control. You may not have the technology or know-how that BP does, but supervizing is not the same as taking charge. Thad Allen should be calling the shots, not BP. BP has their own ass to think about (hint, theirs is one of the ones you should be kicking, champ), and may not be taking every step in the best interest of the environment and the economy. This is especially true after your genius Attorney General has announced criminal proceedings. Put your people in charge and let BP sit in the passenger’s seat. It’s already been alleged that BP underestimated the amount of oil coming out of the broken well. That is a critical factor in determining how to respond. The United States has the most powerful Navy and the largest science budget in the world. BP is the third largest oil company. Whose resources should the American people have faith in?
- Commandeer Resources. The government has the power, in times of emergency, to commandeer private property. Every boat, boom, dispersant and bulldozer within 1,000 miles of the Deepwater Horizon could have been commandeered to create concentric boom rings to gather the oil. If we run out of booms, order the companies that make them to make more. None of this runs afoul of the Constitution or Youngstown and BP, as the responsible party, will be made to pay compensation for the takings.
- Kill the bureaucracy. Bobby Jindahl and the other regional governors should not have to go through the federal government to protect their wetlands, especially in a time of crisis. Fire any bureaucrat who gets in the way. As it is, you have dozens of federal idiocrats arguing about the environmental impact of sand barges while pelicans are drowning in oil.
- Actually talk to the CEOs of BP and TransOcean. First, give them the grief they deserve. They skirted safety regulations and best practices and caused an environmental disaster. Even on the day of the blast, they were cutting corners. Make it clear that, if they fail to do as they are told or in any way drag their feet, neither will do any business within or around the United States. No drilling, no new facilities, nothing. Scare the bejesus out of them, so when they think they may be better off playing it safe, they will have to think about a giant boomstick coming down on them. Second, make them tell you what they plan to do to help, and get assurances that they will pay for the clean up, even beyond what is legally required and they won’t hide in bankruptcy. It may not hold up legally, but some people still honor their word.