I like Obama. I really do. But his press conference was disappointing.
Jennifer Loven asks: “Q You just said that the federal government is in charge, and officials in your administration have said this repeatedly. Yet how do you explain that we’re more than five weeks into this crisis and that BP is not always doing as you’re asking; for example, with the type of dispersant that’s being used?
And if I might add one more: To the many people in the Gulf who, as you said, are angry and frustrated and feel somewhat abandoned, what do you say about whether your personal involvement, your personal engagement, has been as much as it should be, either privately or publicly?”
Obama’s answer runs for 18 paragraphs in the transcript. His only comment on dispersants is the very last paragraph:
“And so if you take a look at what’s transpired over the last four to five weeks, there may be areas where there have been disagreements, for example, on dispersants. And these are complicated issues. But overall, the decisions that have been made have been reflective of the best science that we’ve got, the best expert opinion that we have, and have been weighing various risks and various options to allocate our resources in such a way that we can get this fixed as quickly as possible.”
That’s it? There have been “disagreements”? Let’s not forget, the EPA “ordered” BP to use a different dispersant, BP refused, and apparently that’s the last anyone has said about it (please correct me if I’m wrong!). And of course, this is in the context of prominent BP officials saying the clean up will only take 2 weeks once the oil flow has stopped. Presumably the implication is that we will collectively shrug our shoulders about the tens of millions of gallons of oil suspended in the water column. Or sitting in coastal marshes. Maybe we can look forward to the government and BP having a “disagreement” about that! Because, uh, their current “relationship” is not exactly inspiring confidence, no matter how much I like Obama and enjoy hearing such an intelligent and thoughtful man speak.
Question 2: “Q You say that everything that could be done is being done. But there are those in the region and those industry experts who say that’s not true. Governor Jindal obviously had this proposal for a barrier. They say that if that had been approved when they first asked for it, they would have 10 miles up already. There are fishermen down there who want to work, who want to help, haven’t been trained, haven’t been told to go do so. There are industry experts who say that they’re surprised that tankers haven’t been sent out there to vacuum, as was done in ’93 outside Saudi Arabia. And then, of course, there’s the fact that there are 17 countries that have offered to help, and the — it’s only been accepted from two countries, Norway and Mexico.
How can you say that everything that can be done is being done, with all these experts and all these officials saying that’s not true?”
Obama’s response boils down to “But the point that I was addressing from Jennifer was, does this administration maintain a constant sense of urgency about this? And are we examining every recommendation, and every idea is out there, and making our best judgment as to whether these are the right steps to take, based on the best experts that we know of?
And on that answer, the answer is yes. Or on that question, the answer is yes.”
No word on supertankers. Why not? Maybe it’s a terrible idea. Let’s hear why. If not, you suppose we are simply to take on faith that the government is rigorously evaluating every possible idea? This is basic stuff, and it’s not a state secret. You know what you could do that would inspire confidence in your efforts, Mr. President? Answer directly and honestly the first two questions in your press conference.