Erin M

Erin M
December 31
The interests of this blog are multifold: an exploration of Islamic issues in the U.S., a discussion of political issues of the day, a little on literature and culture as it presents itself, and a general amplification of underrepresented ideas. As a former English teacher in Malaysia, I will often explore Malaysian and Islamic culture in the hopes of promoting a fuller understanding of the values that influence Islamic perspectives and politics today. Contact me if you want to read the full blog for that trip. This site will contain these and other blog posts on politics and current events. To check out my resume and history of past work, go to

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JUNE 16, 2010 4:38PM

Should Obama have been quick to anger?

Rate: 11 Flag

Tom Shales in The Washington Post claims the media is shifting blame for the handling of the oil spill to President Obama to prevent viewers from getting all worn out at watching this disaster spread and spread.  What interests me is the consensus that's been reached weeks after Deepwater Horizon collapsed into the Gulf - the message that Obama responded too slowly to the crisis. 

Eerie how familiar it all is.  George W. Bush was widely chastised for responding too slowly after Hurricane Katrina hit, but that criticism first appeared fairly early, once it was clear that the state of New Orleans and the Gulf coast was worse than anyone had anticipated.  

Because of this, Obama has been exceedingly careful not to respond "too slowly" to any crisis, staying vocal on big events like the apparent North Korean torpedo strike, and making efforts to at least address the majority of his campaign promises - if not fulfill them - within months of taking office, rather than let them dissipate in the quotidian tides as most candidates-turned-elected officials do. 

So why so slowly come to the conclusion that Obama's sluggishness somehow escalated this "spill" to what some people in the restaurant where I work call "World War III," "Armageddon," the blacking out of the entire Atlantic Ocean?  It's a strangely unqualified accusation.  What is it that he should have done?  All I can find is a call to anger, a criticism of his apparent emotional detachment from the whole ordeal.  But I want my president to be a means to level-headed action and solution, not a simple funnel for all of our fears.  Leave the emotions to us; we're all hurting quite enough as it is over this tragic encroaching behemoth.

Given this request, however, Obama can be said to have been neither. The president's speech last night hardly offered any solid solutions for right now.  Every moment results in innumerable deaths - unquantifiable losses that will affect us in ways we can't yet imagine.  Let's plan for the recovery, let's find who to blame, but Obama, let's also get that cap on securely, find a better alternative to boom, crack down on BP's brash deafness to the EPA's nix on dispersants.  (Echo of years of shadowy assurances and back-room pacifications?)  

At least the president has put a hold on new drilling; maybe once we've found ourselves alive and relatively well after this experiment America will be more open to discussion on alternative energies.  The promise for those, Obama hasn't lived up to yet, not so long as he opens up new drilling sites in areas environmentalists fought for years to protect.  Time to act decisively, then.  Let's start the prodigious and all-important project of capping them all.  For good. 

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No one's saying that he should have "acted" like he was angry, but everyone is reading in him a less than naturally passionate reponse to what should outrage all americans...the destruction of of our national heritage for the greedy careless profiteering of a few!
Less talk, more action. He is doing now what he should have been doing at least 6 weeks ago. And I voted for him!
I agree, I much prefer even-keeled in my leaders. Not sure why everyone seems to want him ranting and flailing about. BP is doing all they can do to fix it- getting upset verbally is not going to further that process. If there is a need for more laws and restrictions, then add those. If we need to have rationing, then let's here the plan for that. I don't want an angry leader, I want a productive one.
He has proven himself ineffective and hopelessly lost. He was all blathering blah blah blah on the campaign trail of how much better and wiser and great he'd be. He lobbied hard for this job and once in it, he parties, he golfs and he turns down help from other countries who could have plugged the damn hole in a week. He's a one-termer and has taught a huge lesson to America. Hope and Change are just words, you don't hire community activists to be your President of the U.S.
Women started training in weapons battalion in the U.S.M.C. in the 1980's. Marines take the highest pride in their marksmanship skills, and have honored that tradition for over two centuries before women were allowed to train in the same manner with the men. IN a matter of months women had all of the course records. Why? Heart rates. Women are calmer. Women have lower resting heart rates generally. One's pulse is enough to effect the smooth calm required for excellent marksmanship. Is shooting a rifle a violent act? Yes. Is it done best when calm? Yes. Anger, noise, demonstrative emotional explosion are highly over rated. Much can be accomplished with calm.
@Fred: I can understand the need for outrage. I think that's what we citizens should be expressing, but with our national "fatigue" at oil spill news, it doesn't look like we're holding up their end. So perhaps an argument can be made that we need a leader in our outrage. But if Obama is going to be outraged, I say he express it and then move on to solutions. I'm not sure if the "assholes" comment will be enough.

@Bill: Shooting a rifle is only done well when calm. Excellent point there.

Thanks for all the insightful comments, guys - keep 'em coming!
@ Erin,

Sorry but intelligent CEOs don't solve problems with anger, . . . they do, however, require intelligence, which is apparently lacking in the White House.

Speech making is easy, and the really good preachers get to fill their collection boxes, but running a successful business or successful economy is highly difficult. Running a country, . . . even more so.

Saying that people are looking for "passion," is silly. What common sense individuals are looking for is decisiveness. More promotion of a political agenda, like the Cap and Trade boondoggle, is inappropriate. Put the nose of those responsible for the mess to the grindstone, and don't let go.
@James: I'm definitely inclined to agree to you that intelligence and decisiveness is what we need right now. Asking the president to display excessive emotion on behalf of all of us is asking him to be a symbol for all American citizens, rather than an actor on behalf of them. Should he sympathize with them, and show it? Probably yes. But I never even assumed he took this situation in stride. No one does.
My jury is still out on President Obama, on everything. Many people worked very hard to help him get elected, and I would like to see more of what wa promised. I am willing to give him the benefit of any doubts, but agree that I don't want a quick-to-anger crazy ass president. Although I still think he should have had Joe Wilson removed for shouting "You Lie" during the President's address.
You have to remember that President Obama was not "slow to respond". The Coast Guard were already in the gulf before the fire was out and containment measures were being put into place. The problem was the depth of the well and the rate of the oil flow made it impossible to restrain. As for the anger issue, what good would it have done if the President came out screaming and hollering? The oil would have still spread and the conservatives would have still complained, but they would have said he over reacted.
As far as I am concerned I would rather have a level headed leader than the "by the gut" leader we had two years ago.
I prefer a level-headed president to a ranter, myself. Emotion or lack thereof wouldn't have slowed down the rate of the oil spilling.

I think the situation in the gulf is bad enough, and the gulf waters are gettting sufficiently polluted without trying to detonate a nuclear warhead down there. Gee, what could go wrong with THAT plan? It's just solving one problem by replacing it with one that's potentially even WORSE.

Careful those of you who think Obama will be a one-termer. If six months is an eternity in politics, two years is four eternities. Nobody can predict what will happen by 2012. I'd like to see more of what we were promised in the campaign. Id' also wish greed and stupidity hadn't nearly bleeped up our economy in 2008.
i believe this catastrophe began when the government failed to require a standard of safe operational practice. after a year and a half in office, and after encouraging deep-water drilling, obama is not well-placed to get angry at any one.

the public can not act, the government dare not roil the waters, bp need merely sit quietly and let the show trial amuse the 6 o'clock news, and nothing will change.

i think obama is merely a coldly practical politician who told enough lies to get elected and will tell enough more to get reelected. fewer will be deceived the second time around, but the alternative will be a republican.

americans get the government they deserve, and anything you say about obama should be viewed as a measure of the society he has fooled.

i don't know how people go on voting for politicians, when the results are so consistently horrible. perhaps american education has been too long in the control of the texas board of education. or maybe they are just dumb.
All of this calling for presidential anger is a collective psychological projection of people who are angry, but they're not really clear about what it is they're angry about. Maybe they're overextended in their mortgages, or their jobs went under. Was I to blame? Was it the economy? Was it the company? Was it the government? Was it the banks? Did God and/or Man do this to me?

Since there's no answer to many of these questions, people want raw meat. It would be nice if Obama could strip to his skivvies, put a knife to his teeth, and dive down to take care of the problem. But the Spewcam just reinforces the fact that even the US government and BP are powerless on this.

I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore! Uh -- can you tell me who I should be mad at?
The outrage from the citizenry is in parts sadly humorous, ironic and just plain pathetic.

Comparison to Katrina? Katrina was a hurricane, the like of which we have seen before and will see again. We've had plenty of chances to refine our response to such and proved it in the years previous to Katrina, most notably in the very year before Katrina when FEMA deftly handled the four storms that strafed Florida.

The Deepwater Horizon spill? There was absolutely no precedent for it.

If Obama can be faulted for anything is embracing the pro-business, corporatist, right wing philosophies that not only facilitated this fiasco initially but that are also revered by the president's most strident critics.

For instance, Obama was criticized for not being on hand. When he arrived, he was criticized for exploiting tragedy for a photo op.

When he took measures to prevent this from happening again -- hampering deep sea drilling -- the very folks crying loudest about the oil seeping into their marshes then bitched about his measures to prevent it in the future.

It's a lose-lose for him.
"the conclusion that Obama's sluggishness somehow escalated this "spill" to what some people in the restaurant where I work call "World War III," "Armageddon," the blacking out of the entire Atlantic Ocean? It's a strangely unqualified accusation."

Someone at HuffPo was trying to connect the Deepwater Horizon disaster with 9/11. I had to admonish that directly.

An analogy like an American Chernobyl is fine.

But WWIII!?! End Times!?! 9/11 Part Two!?! Oh geez...

The, uh, freak-out factor is running high in the country.

For some reason many Americans feel this need for their president to reflect their emotional state in some kind of populist rant. I'm guilt of this too. I was saying this at first, but upon review of my position it is not a fair thing to ask of Obama in the first place.

It amounts to: "Act like someone you are not!" Which is just unfair to ask of anyone.

Obama is way too cool and collected compared to raving progressivism and anti-corporatist rhetoric of we out here calling this president a "centrist" to date.

Another way to put it is he has too much class to spout off.
One doesn't threatened when one can't back up a threat, and that is what anger is; a threat to act in perhaps a destructive manner. In this case the recipient of such a threat would be the oil industry.
If anyone thinks they can threaten the oil industry, think again.
Big oil owns countries and where they dont own countries, they own enough politicians to make countries behave. This one included.
At least, Obama did say he was "informing" BP they would be creating, funding and not administering an escrow to support those affected and pay for clean up. And in reality, the use of informing was really strong words. But when one reads and hears of the extent to which the "cleanup" (read "coverup") is being directed by BP through the aegis of the Coast Guard one questions just how far Obama will be able to lead BP ("Beyond Prosecution?") to the trough of responsibility.
And no amount of displayed anger would change that. Real change only will come by getting the corporate hand out of the governmental sockpuppet.
Obama critcs-- Please consider what might be happening if the angry McCain were in charge!
Deborah - "countries who could have plugged the damn hole in a week" - you got some references so the rest of us could get informed? "He parties" - what does that mean? The WH events that are part of the role of a prez? (Since the prez is also head of state, he's expected to do that stuff.) Plays golf? I think that fits in with the not-displaying-rage thing - I hope he eats and sleeps too, and doesn't get himself in a total frazzle. P.S. - Got any figures on the amount of time spent golfing?
@ Deborah Young

No company has ever capped a rupture at this depth.

Put a cap on your Zanax script and stop talking like a fool.
No, he should be quick to act! His lack of action has only got us behind 50 days. He is killing jobs and could be creating jobs in this mess. "Hope and change".. That was a helluva speech wasn't it? Hey, but he can use this to spend some more money and raise taxes. Life is good.
@holmescc: I understand that every lost moment is critical, but it isn't Obama "killing jobs." I think we all know who is doing that.