Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Teleprompter-in-Chief Speaks

Determined to defy the McCain-Palin campaign's accusations that he was a giver of pretty speeches but not an agent of principled change, President Obama last night gave a speech on the BP-Halliburton-TransOcean oil spill that wasn't pretty. Joan Walsh was unmoved, especially with the elements of the speech's "battle plan" that call for moving slightly slower in the same direction and appointing a commission to write a report:

I thought the president was about to do what I'd hoped for, unrealistically, this afternoon – explain why he was wrong to drop his opposition to expanded offshore oil drilling, and recommit to his old position. He didn't ... He then committed to a National Commission to study the disaster and explore what new environmental protections are needed. (If he paid any attention to the House Energy Committee's grilling of top oil industry execs today, he'd know the industry has no idea to cope with a disaster of this magnitude.)
The part in parentheses refers to the sworn testimony of oil executives in Congress yesterday, which included this:
“When these things happen, we are not very well equipped to deal with them,’’ said Rex W. Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil. “And that’s why the emphasis is always on preventing these things from occurring. ... That’s just a fact of the enormity of what we’re dealing with.’’
So mark that -- as of 15 June 2010, no one on earth knows how to 'deal with' spills of the kind we're seeing in the Gulf of Mexico. The president's speech, given the same day, has an answer to that:
Already, I have issued a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. I know this creates difficulty for the people who work on these rigs, but for the sake of their safety, and for the sake of the entire region, we need to know the facts before we allow deepwater drilling to continue. And while I urge the Commission to complete its work as quickly as possible, I expect them to do that work thoroughly and impartially.
Notice how we're a mile deep in the compromise position even as the words scroll across the teleprompter: we have no idea what to do, and we have no idea when we'll know what to do, but jobs on oil rigs are in peril so long as drilling is stalled, so this commission should make sure to write its report quickly.

"As quickly as possible," that is, but don't ask how that squares with the definite six-month moratorium. Supposing the commission hasn't finished all its drafts by the end of six months, what then? Or, supposing the commission's final version comes out before six months, but offers no new answers for stopping a gushing oil drill several thousand feet under the water, what then? Or, supposing the commission's final report comes out before six months, and includes a detailed list of new standards, rules, practices, and enforcement mechanisms that stand a credible chance of preventing such disasters in the future --- what then? 

The teleprompter didn't say.


Domestically Challenged said...

What then? Why they ignore all the new found safety protocol/standards/etc and keep doing things the way they have been done! TRADITION! New standards are expensive.

*sigh* When-oh-when will we ever get a teleprompter that actually stands up for something? And by "something" I mean principled.

Dale said...

DC, that's just it -- this is a big part of how we will get exactly that: a principled leader, one who definitely stands for definite things. Her name is Sarah Palin.

Of course it's ridiculous; of course she's a joke. But people will vote for a joke that actually stands for things -- even idiotic, incoherent, despicable, and self-destructive things -- especially if events have made them wary and weary of someone who sees all kinds of nuance, is committed only to finding compromises, and seems determined not to take any stands of any consequence.

There are large numbers of voters who refuse to consider details, but respond to the tone and to 'leadership qualities.' Obama is doing everything he can to estrange these people, and meanwhile, for those of us who do care, and who pay attention to many of the details, he's doing even more to estrange us: the 'conservatives' of this kind despised his agenda from day one; for those of us on the liberal-left side, his cowardice, compromise, and half-measures are making us sick.

That's my take on it -- barring some astonishing sea change of some kind, President Palin (or the equivalent) takes office early 2013.