Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Deepwater Horizon Disaster; President Obama's Interview With Matt Lauer and Opinion


President Obama is interviewed by Matt Lauer for The Today Show in the video below. He responds to critics, and tells Lauer of his intent to kick "the right person's ass" who is responsible for generating this crisis.


Opinion

"PERCEPTION IS REALITY" ....... Jonathan Alter, Newsweek contributor, frequent commentator on MSNBC, and author of a newly published book about Year One of the Obama Presidency called The Promise, was a guest recently on Real Time with Bill Maher. The conversation turned to how Mr. Obama was handling the situation in the Gulf with the oil spill from the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon platform, and the criticism he was receiving for his response in the days after the crisis began. Though the administration did about as much as humanly possible to respond to a situation without precedent, Mr. Obama's personal reaction and demeanor was the subject of scrutiny and more than a little criticism. His style seemed to many to be detached and aloof when many Americans felt anger and wanted to vent. Alter told the following story from more than 60 years ago.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's funeral procession snaked through the streets of Washington DC. There were two men standing together in the throngs on onlookers; the two were total strangers. As the caisson carrying Roosevelt's body passed by, one man fell to the pavement, overcome with tears. The second man helped the first man up. "Are you alright?" the second man asked the first man. The first man responded that he was OK, but felt heartsick at the death of Roosevelt. "Did you know Mr. Roosevelt?", the second man asked. The first man looked at the second man and said, "No, I never even met the President......but he knew me".

Maybe that was the essence of Franklin Roosevelt's greatness. He connected to the little guy, even though he was a wealthy patrician from New York's Old Dutch aristocracy. FDR was a a handsome youngish dilettante when tragedy struck, and he contracted polio, leaving him crippled for the rest of his life. But his illness made him more human, and his personal struggles gave him a connection to the struggles of Everyman. He WAS the Great Communicator forty years before Ronald Reagan, and a the man who steered America through the two greatest crises of the 20th century.

I voted for Barack Obama, and I've contributed to his presidential campaign, and I've been a supporter of policies. I want him to succeed, and I'll chide anyone who cheerleads for his failure, because it would be a failure for all of us as a nation.

Mr. Obama is cool, calm, and collected; it was part of his appeal as a candidate. He was jovial and rational, while at times his opponent seemed to become unglued.

But I must say.....I am among those who wished to see more anger from Obama the President in reaction to the disaster in the Gulf. I wanted to see Vince Lomabrdi in someone's face; we got understated Tom Landry seemingly, quietly analyzing and sorting it out....and initially trusting the perpetrator of this mess, BP, to find away to stop the leak and clean it up.

Clearly no matter what Mr. Obama does he'll be attacked by the usual gasbags on the right; there's no news there. But when James Carville, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Howard Fineman, Maureen Dowd and others from the left or centrist media chime in about Obama's lack of emotion in the wake of this crisis that must be cause for concern. And the revelation that the President has not contacted BP CEO Tony Hayward is, at the very least, a real headscratcher. It's not often fair to compare the styles of one President versus another, but questions need to be asked how leaders of the past may have responded to this crisis. Imagine the reaction of a Lyndon Baines Johnson to an oil spill of this magnitude threatening our shores and rendering hundreds of square miles of marshlands and open waters lifeless. Johnson once called Robert Kennedy, whom he had no love for, a "piss ant". If he would say that to a man who later served (briefly) as his Attorney General, LBJ would have taken Hayward to task, and in all likelihood very forcefully. I wouldn't rule out LBJ threatening personally to shoot Tony Hayward on sight because of his low balls and "misstatements"....and I'm sure thousands of Louisiana residents would have looked the other way, and would have never seen a thing.

Now I'm not advocating violence to anyone (ie, Tony Hayward) regarding his words and "actions" in this crisis....but I really believe most Americans would have really wanted to see Barack Obama get into a room with the guy and ask him when the BS is going to stop; low balling the amount of the spill, the effectiveness of a top kill, the effectiveness of a bottom kill, how the cap is working, and of course, the strain this has put on Hayward who complained about getting "his life back".

Mr. Obama....a lot of us are cheering you on, and want you to succeed. But some of us want you to get mad as hell....and its OK to show it.....and make sure that those responsible for this disaster are going to pay with some serious jail time. Lives were lost, hundreds of other lives have been thrown in turmoil, and a precious resource has been infected and may be terminally ill. In natural history we have seen extinction due to comets, ice ages, droughts, famine and pestilence.

But the pending extinction in the Gulf is simply the result of human greed.

It's that simple.

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