You’ve got to hand it to Barack Obama. He has done something nobody in a million years would have dreamed possible. He’s made the Bush Administration’s handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster look like the very model of competence and compassion.
From the day of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon on April 20, right up to last night, Obama has not given any indication that he has the slightest clue about what’s going on.
Remember how George W. Bush was faulted for his uncaring response to Katrina? How he was ridiculed for looking at the devastation through a window on Air Force One as he flew over New Orleans on his way back to Washington after cutting his vacation short? How rapper Kanye West told a nationwide television audience that “George Bush doesn’t are about black people” (while a sheepish-looking Mike Myers looked on)?
Three days after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Barack Obama also boarded Air Force One. But he didn’t fly over the oil spill. Instead, he and Michelle flew to Asheville, NC, for a vacation. As an Associated Press story breathlessly described it, “Obamas’ Romantic Weekend! First Couple Enjoys BBQ, Hiking, Golf In North Carolina (PHOTOS)“. And the tagline just above Philip Elliott’s byline told readers, “for a better look at Michelle’s chic outfit, scroll down!”
I guess he needed this getaway to charge up his batteries for the tough days ahead. And they were tough. Upon returning to Washington, Obama had to buckle down to long days of, as PolitiPage put it, “golf, parties, photo-ops…and more golf!”
“So many parties, so little time.”, sighed Stuart Schwartz on the American Thinker website.
Then there was a swing through the heartland to try out desserts at the local diners, back home to D. C. to star in a $30,400-per-couple Georgetown fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, then off to the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner to crack some jokes, and then…golf and more golf! In fact, even before the oil spill, Obama had already played eight times more golf than Bush did in his entire eight years as President.
Obama had to skip the memorial service for the 11 workers killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion to fly to San Francisco to headline a fundraiser for endangered Sen. Barbara Boxer held at the mansion of oil heir Gordon Getty. Can’t be bothered with paying his respects to lowly oil rig workers — isn’t that what Todd Palin did for a living? — when he’s got to get Boxer reelected and protect A Woman’s Right To Choose.
According to the Bay Area NBC affiliate,
Diners were treated to quail egg with caviar and salmon ceviche with jicama and avocado on a tortilla chip as their starting hors d’oeuvres. Next they were served a spring onion-asparagus tartlet with Meyer lemon vinaigrette-dressed frisee salad.
The main course was braised Kobe beef short ribs with potato puree and a salsa verde-topped spring vegetable ragout. And the evening was topped off with buckwheat crepes with roasted cherries and almond ice cream.
Mmmmmm! Yummy! All for a mere $17,600 per person. And you get your picture taken with the President, too!
After raising $1.75 million for Boxer, it was back to D. C., but only briefly, because then it was off to Chicago for another vacation — he had to skip the traditional Memorial Day wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery. However, he made it back in time for still another White House party — this one in honor of Paul McCartney, who honored the occasion by putting down Obama’s predecessor to the delight and merriment of all.
I love Stuart Schwartz’ description of all this fiddling-while-Rome-is-burning:
But popping up in the photo ops with Elvis Costello and Stevie Wonder and Beyonce and Sheryl Crow and Josh Groban, in the sumptuous spreads prepared by a continuous line of celebrity chefs dropping their magic on gold-trimmed fine bone china, in the Green Curry Prawns with Caramelized Salsify and the Oregon Wagyu Beef in Oaxacan Black Mole — in all of this, there is a haunting hint of John Belushi’s “Bluto” Blutarsky urinating on the shrubs outside the East Room.
There is more than just a “haunting hint” down on the Gulf coast, where oil is choking pelicans (where is Julia Roberts now that we need her?) and tarballs are washing ashore.
While the President was partying, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was trying to get permission from Obama’s environmental czars to build sand berms to block the oil from coming ashore. And he was getting nowhere. Can’t move sand around, he was told. It might hurt the environment. And an oil slick won’t?
After three weeks of delay, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers approved part of Jindal’s request. Two percent of his request, to be exact, just enough to make it look like something is being done, but not enough to really do anything.
But the Obama Administration wasn’t totally inactive during those three weeks. On the very same day Barack and Michelle left for their romantic vacation in the mountains of North Carolina, he turned down a Dutch offer to provide ships with oil-skimming booms to help contain the leak. And, never one to let a crisis go to waste, he used it as an excuse to try to get his cap-and-tax bill through the Senate.
Eventually even some liberals were starting to get fed up. They thought he was “too detached”, that he was not showing enough anger. So the Obama Administration finally responded to the crisis…with demagoguery. And, naturally, by blaming Republicans.
Citing the recommendations of a panel of experts from the National Academy of Engineering, Obama announced a six-month moratorium on offshore drilling. This drew an angry response from Gulf state politicians, who cited the job losses that will result from the moratorium. Not to worry, said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. BP will pay the lost wages and salaries.
Fat chance. The oil rig workers lost their jobs because of the Obama Administration’s action, not because of BP, which, although responsible for the oil leak, had nothing to do with the moratorium.
The moratorium also drew an angry response from the experts who supposedly recommended it. They recommended no such thing, they said in a statement released this week: “The Secretary should be free to recommend whatever he thinks is correct”, they said, “but he should not be free to use our names to justify his political decisions”.
Not to be outdone by Interior, Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department opened a criminal investigation of BP, and hinted that they might get an injunction blocking BP from paying dividends. Naturally, this went over very well in the United Kingdom, where a seventh of all retirees depend on BP dividends for retirement income. Not to mention that a British company’s dividend policy is beyond the reach of U. S. courts.
Holder also promised that the oil cleanup won’t cost U. S. taxpayers a dime. BP will pay for all of it, he said.
And Obama, no longer detached, has decided he has to find out “whose ass to kick”. Apparently, said ass may or may not be the one belonging to BP CEO Tony Hayward. Robert Gibbs says Obama can’t talk to him — something to do with “corporate governance”. The One will talk only to BP’s non-CEO board chairman, which is like talking to the Queen of England about British troop deployments in Afghanistan.
Remember all those elitists, particularly the conservative elitists — those like Christopher Buckley, David Frum, David Brooks, Steve Chapman, Kathleen Parker, Andrew Sullivan, Ruth Marcus, even George Will — who sang Obama’s praises while trashing Sarah Palin during the 2008 election campaign? I wonder what they’re thinking now.
Obama’s Ivy League degrees and “first-class temperament and first-class intellect” — to use a phrase of Christopher Buckley’s — aren’t doing anybody much good now. Buckley and other elitists ridiculed Sarah Palin because she told some schoolchildren that part of the job of the Vice-president is to be “in charge” of the Senate. I guess they all think the job of the President is to think Deep Thoughts.
At least Sarah Palin had actually run things — a city, an oil and gas regulatory commission and a state — before running for national office, and she has talked to CEOs of oil companies. Obama, to recall a memorable phrase of George Will’s before he found Palin too frightening for him, had never run so much as a Dairy Queen.
I cannot imagine anyone — anyone — being as incompetent as Obama has proved to be during this crisis. Sarah Palin, judging by her record as Alaska governor, would have been all over the crisis from Day One.
In the last days of the Bush Presidency, some pundit (I forget who — probably it was several of them) called it the most arrogant and incompetent in history. He was wrong. The Obama Administration now has that honor.