Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Short-Term Reaction To Obama's Oval Office Speech.

There were things I heard tonight and things I didn't hear.

-I (finally) heard that he's authorized mobilization of National Guard Units for clean up.  I'm not sure what took so long.

-I heard that he's planning to demand that BP establish an escrow account to be administered by a third party to handle claims.

-I didn't hear who that third party would be -- whether it would be Governmental or not, nor how it would be appointed or established.

-I heard that he was assigning Navy Secretary, Ray Mabus to draw up long-term recovery plans for the Gulf.  As a past-Governor of a Gulf State (Mississippi), and as one experienced with the U.S. Navy, he sounds, on the surface, like a good choice.  I'm sure his resume will be dissected more thoroughly in the next few days.

-I heard him promise that the Gulf of Mexico and its shoreline would be restored to a condition, not just as it was before Deepwater Horizon blew up, but before Hurricane Katrina devastated portions of the Gulf.  A laudable goal, but I didn't hear how he intends to get BP to pay for a natural disaster that occurred years before they got caught with their pants down. If that's not what he meant...that he intends for a portion of this recovery to be paid for out of Federal Funds, I'm not sure I can think of a way to confuse issues further when it comes to assessing BP's obligations.  They're certainly sure to grow contentious on that issue as soon as the heat of the moment has passed, without the complication of agreeing to what is a ramification of the oil spill vs. what is a lingering problem from the Hurricane.

-I heard an acknowledgment that "Alternative Energy" sources haven't gotten the priority required in spite of the discussion having gone on for decades.  I heard him compare the need to succeed at gearing up for war production at the beginning of WWII and the sense of "mission" for the Moon Landing to the determination that would be required to make the achievements required to wean us of dependence on fossil fuels.  What I didn't hear was anything concrete in those statements.  While Kennedy announced a time frame for the goal of landing a man safely on the moon, Obama neglected to articulate any clear goals.  Has this only now become a priority for this Administration?  Aren't there any targets for reducing the percentage of our energy fueled by coal and oil?  Aren't there any time frames? Haven't they had time to think about those questions?

One of the most common complaints about Bush's handling of the U.S. Military's entrance into war in Afghanistan and Iraq, was that he never articulated how it would impact the homefront. He never asked for any sacrifice on the part of average Americans...and therefore, sold the war as something that would go on over there, and life would go on as usual here at home.  If it's time for President Obama to set off on a bold course and to ask Americans to participate...and I think there's a case to be made that it is that time, then he's going to have to be a lot more specific than he was tonight.

I'd be lying if I didn't say I thought it was a fairly disappointing speech.  Please do better Mr. President.

1 comment:

Todd Wheeler said...

The two things I wanted to hear last night but didn't:
- Ken Salazar stepping down because of incompetence in reforming the MMS and for approving that particular oil rig to begin with.

- Criminal prosecution of individuals in BP

The two things I heard that I think are false:
- The administration mobilized hours after the fire

- The Federal government has been in charge of the clean up since the very beginning of the disaster.

I agree. Very disappointing.