Tuesday, June 01, 2010

When Will Obama Start Acting Like a Leader?

At dinner tonight here in Key West the topic came around to the issue of the BP oil spill and the frustration that more and more are feeling over President Obama's continued failure to be a LEADER rather than a follower waiting for Congress to act or allowing matters to spill out of control as he fails to act in any meaningful manner. The topic got started by a sign hanging on a balcony on a building on Duval Street that called for a boycott of BP and action to address the continuing environmental catastrophe unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. BP continues to dither while Obama acts like Nero fiddling as Rome burns. Add to that Obama's inability to control members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of the Army who are actively working to undermine the DADT repeal compromise and it's enough to make one want to start screaming. Sitting not even a mile from Truman's Little White House and the lack of leadership by the current president could not be more stark. Now Robert Reich is arguing that Obama needs to place BP under temporary receivership in order to deal with the fiasco. Personally, I believe Reich is right on target. Here are some highlights:
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It’s time for the federal government to put BP under temporary receivership, which gives the government authority to take over BP’s operations in the Gulf of Mexico until the gusher is stopped. This is the only way the public know what’s going on, be confident enough resources are being put to stopping the gusher, ensure BP’s strategy is correct, know the government has enough clout to force BP to use a different one if necessary, and be sure the President is ultimately in charge.
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If the government can take over giant global insurer AIG and the auto giant General Motors and replace their CEOs, in order to keep them financially solvent, it should be able to put BP’s north American operations into temporary receivership in order to stop one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.
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The Obama administration keeps saying BP is in charge because BP has the equipment and expertise necessary to do what’s necessary. But under temporary receivership, BP would continue to have the equipment and expertise. The only difference: the firm would unambiguously be working in the public’s interest. As it is now, BP continues to be responsible primarily to its shareholders, not to the American public.
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Five reasons for taking such action:
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1. We are not getting the truth from BP.
BP has continuously and dramatically understated size of gusher.
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2. We have no way to be sure BP is devoting enough resources to stopping the gusher. BP is now saying it has no immediate way to stop up the well until August, when a new “relief” well will reach the gushing well bore, enabling its engineers to install cement plugs. August? If government were in direct control of BP’s north American assets, it would be able to devote whatever of those assets are necessary to stopping up the well right away.
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3. BP’s new strategy for stopping the gusher is highly risky. It wants to sever the leaking pipe cleanly from atop the failed blowout preventer, and then install a new cap so the escaping oil can be pumped up to a ship on the surface. But scientists say that could result in an even bigger volume of oil . . . .
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4. Right now, the U.S. government has no authority to force BP to adopt a different strategy. Saturday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and his team of scientists essentially halted BP’s attempt to cap the spewing well with a process known as “top kill,” which injected drilling mud and other materials to try to counter the upward pressure of the oil. Apparently the Administration team was worried that the technique would worsen the leak. But under what authority did the Administration act? It has none.
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5. The President is not legally in charge. As long as BP is not under the direct control of the government he has no direct line of authority, and responsibility is totally confused.
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The President should temporarily take over BP’s Gulf operations. We have a national emergency on our hands. No president would allow a nuclear reactor owned by a private for-profit company to melt down in the United States while remaining under the direct control of that company. The meltdown in the Gulf is the environmental equivalent.
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Americans voted for what they thought would be a strong leader. It's increasingly clear that we got the exact opposite. All the GOP needs to do in 2012 is not nominate a nutcase and Obama could well be a one term president and deservedly so.

1 comment:

JiM said...

lets see take over of the banks, the car industry and now an oil company, you really think that it will fly, the news media ( nay entertainment complex ) will have a field day with that...

seems to me the real problem is our expectations are way more than any one person ( president) can do as fast as we think to clean up after 30 years of going in the wrong direction, we are expecting that he will clean up all of this mess

you might want to take a listen/look at this...

http://www.wgbh.org/programs/programDetail.cfm?programID=855

Obama’s Presidency: Journalist and The Promise: President Obama, Year One author Jonathan Alter