Saturday, June 19, 2010

Obama's View: Gulf Spill Recovery Only a Part-Time Job

I might think I was hallucinating, but I have witnesses: commenters on Potluck’s Oval Office live open thread, plus the dozens of millions of people who watched, listened to, or read Barack Obama's oval office speech of only four days ago, Tuesday, June 15. In that speech, according to The New York Times, Obama said:
Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced. And unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it's not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days. The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years. 

But make no mistake: We will fight this spill with everything we've got for as long as it takes. We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever's necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy. 
So Obama appoints a guy to lead the Gulf recovery: a part-time guy. That's what Obama considers "everything we've got for as long as it takes." If only he had hired a part-time guy to push through his socialized health insurance fiasco. But no, for that he had to tie up the 111th Congress for an entire year and whip them into voting on Christmas Eve.

From ABC News:
President Barack Obama's point man charting a new future for the oil-poisoned Gulf Coast will do the job part-time. Some environmentalists said the job demands someone's full attention.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who oversees 900,000 Navy and Marine personnel, is inheriting an amorphous second job as the Obama administration's leader of long-term environmental and economic planning. His task is no less than rebuilding a region still suffering after Hurricane Katrina and beset by decades of environmental problems.

Mabus won't resign from his Navy job. When President George W. Bush picked Donald Powell to lead the recovery after Hurricane Katrina, Powell resigned as head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Mabus was Clinton's ambassador to Saudi Arabia for two years, after serving as governor of Mississippi.
"The president talked to the governor about this, and they both agreed that he had the ability to do both," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday after Mabus met with Obama at the White House.

That prompted quick criticism from the Defenders of Wildlife, which is working to save animals from the oil that has gushed from an offshore BP oil well for nearly two months.
"The idea that he is only going to work on this part-time is disturbing," said Robert Irvin, the group's vice president for conservation programs. "If this is the equivalent of war, as the president has been saying, it needs a full-time general."
True, the recovery will benefit from focused, strong coordination of help from the federal government. But something tells me that's not what this administration has in mind for the Gulf states.

Cross-posted at Potluck.

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