Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Don't Blame Obama for the Oil Spill

Anne Applebaum is completely correct in stating that President Obama should not be blamed for the BP oil spill - either that it happened or that the leak hasn't been stopped. I think Republicans look stupid when they attack Obama for what is happening, though I can sympathize with the "payback" impulse since Democrats attacked Bush for Hurricane Katrina - a debacle that occurred largely because of the incompetence and corruption of the state government of Louisiana and the city government of New Orleans (though I also blame Bush for acting as if the federal government somehow was responsible for hurricane response and relief - and thus added federal government bungling to the mix). Applebaum also echoes the point I made about BP having the greatest expertise and incentive to solve the problem:

Here is the hard truth: The U.S. government does not possess a secret method for capping oil leaks. Even the combined wisdom of the Obama inner circle -- all of those Harvard economists, silver-tongued spin doctors and hardened politicos -- cannot prevent tens of thousands of tons of oil from pouring out of hole a mile beneath the ocean surface. ...In truth, the organization most likely to have the phone numbers of the "experts" is BP. The organization that will get them to Louisiana fastest is BP. I am writing this not because I like, admire or even have an opinion about the company formerly known as British Petroleum but because BP's shareholders have already lost billions of dollars and BP's executives are motivated to find solutions faster than anyone in the White House ever could. Bashing BP or seeking to punish BP is pointless.
While Obama is not to blame for the oil spill, there are four things worth adding to the discussion. First, the leftists in the Administration and elsewhere are demonizing BP and claiming that this is evidence that more regulation is needed of evil companies, but perhaps this demagoguery is a way of distracting people from paying attention to the fact that Obama was a top recipient of largesse from the company and that BP institutionally is very left-wing. Second, the White House, because it has refused to waive a protectionist piece of legislation known as the Jones Act, actually does bear a bit of blame for the slow reaction and clean-up efforts. Not surprisingly, the reason for his failure to act is that the unions have him on a very short leash. Third, everyone should take a deep breath and not make a bad situation worse by overreacting and passing misguided legislation. Last but not least, the White House moratorium on drilling was an example of pointless overreaction.

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