Friday, June 18, 2010

Obama's brings the pitchforks and torches against BP

Jazz Shaw at Pajamas Media recently looked at the remarks by Congressman Joe Barton and had this to say:
But while the remarks could certainly qualify for some sort of MTV Music award for inept commentary, and Barton has already been forced into a mea culpa, one nagging problem remains. The Texas congressman’s statements were politically tone deaf … but he was also correct.
He goes on to explain how, while BP should by no means avoid responsibility for this mess, it is not the President's place to force them into paying damages.

We do, in fact, have laws in this country which cover precisely this type of scenario. Plaintiffs in large scale disputes such as this have a right to petition in court and have a third party arbitrate disputes, collect funds, and disperse them to the injured parties. But in each case one of two things happens; either the company does it voluntarily to improve their public image or a court directs them to take this action. There is no provision for an elected official from the executive branch to simply order such an action by fiat.

True, BP may have been under no legal constraint to follow Obama’s dictate. But given the fact that their popularity around the world right now isn’t exactly at an all time high, the president pretty much had them over a barrel of oil. And it does, as [John] Hawkins opined, carry the stench of being “lawless, creepy, and dictatorial.”
 He concludes with the following:
It would be a shame if the Gulf Coast denizens who rely on fishing and tourism for a living actually wind up waiting longer and receiving less because of President Obama’s desperate need to appear as if he’s doing something — anything! — in the face of this Deepwater Disaster film which simply refuses to go away. And even if the slush fund works perfectly and everyone is paid in a timely fashion, the day may yet come when savvy legal minds will find time to ask the president exactly where he found the constitutional authority to demand such a solution from a private company without the benefit of a court.
 I am all for BP paying for as much of this mess as they can. But they are not solely responsible in this mess. Not when we hear reports of would-be cleanup vessels being stopped due to insufficient life vests. Didn't the President just say this is a crisis? In crisis situations we don't stand on largely-irrelevant bureaucracy.

I, frankly, never thought it was appropriate to hold Bush responsible for the response to Hurricane Katrina. I do not think it's appropriate to hold Obama responsible for the Gulf Oil Spill, either. But the Democrats, in insisting on the former, have reaped the latter. What we need from the President is leadership--someone to cut through all the red tape to get the best and most resources into play to clean up the mess. A single call from Obama could have had the Coast Guard out of the way in no time. Let the courts handle who is to blame and who has to pay for it. Let BP come forward voluntarily with an offer of some initial pay-out to help those affected.

Unfortunately we have a President who does not know how to lead, but does have a habit of reaching for his bat whenever big business is involved. His need to beat up business goes beyond sticking up for the little guy. Little guys are employed by big businesses, too, after all. No, his need to bash business approaches the pathological. His need to be seen bashing big business borders on the narcissistic. Meanwhile we still have an oil slick problem, and all the leaders who could be doing something about this are wrapped up in some sort of Pyrrhic kabuki. 

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