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.