By Cheri Jacobus - 06/17/10 10:38 PM EDT
Obama now owns the BP mess. His Oval Office oil spill speech was a colossal disaster. Far from being uplifting or helpful, it disappointingly added fuel to the fire. Devoid of answers, solutions or leadership, the president’s speech was a stark reminder of why campaigns are tough, invasive and a brutal examination of a candidate’s experience and record. Or at least should be.
If only candidate Barack Obama had been truly scrutinized and thoroughly vetted to lead the nation and be commander in chief, perhaps we could have been spared this sad, scary failed test of a president. An unusually gifted speaker when addressing his utopian dreams for the nation, when faced with addressing the reality of the job of president of the United States, the former community organizer falls frighteningly short of being even merely adequate in his current employment.
While Obama promised to “make BP pay” for the gusher in the Gulf, it struck me as something a president would say regarding terrorists, or would-be terrorists and those who aid them. But not this president.
Americans are focused on stopping the oil from pouring into the Gulf of Mexico and onto our beaches, killing untold wildlife, the tourism industry, the fishing industry and real estate in the coastal states. But our useless president wants us to rally around him in his call for revenge, rather than results. The speech didn’t just leave his supporters in the media stunned. It stunned all of us, and it’s hard to shock a country that’s been assaulted for nearly 60 days straight by the oil and this impotent president.
Louisianans give former President George W. Bush higher marks for his handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster than they give Obama in his handling of the oil disaster, according to a new Public Policy Polling survey. One year after Katrina, about half of all Americans held a negative view of Bush’s performance in addressing that natural disaster.
Obama naively believes he should be off the hook for his response (or lack thereof) to this massive spill because he didn’t cause it. But as every mayor in every city north of the Sun Belt knows, a failed response to a snowstorm that can cripple a town can also cripple a political career — even though mayors don’t cause snowstorms. Effective, rapid, meaningful responses matter. Using a lengthy Oval Office address to announce sending the National Guard to the Gulf to help process insurance claims? Wow. There are no words …
Even more perplexing — or perhaps so typical it’s mind-boggling — was Obama’s knee-jerk instinct to call for yet another tax to “solve” the problem. And yet another “czar,” since they’ve just worked out so well for him (insert your own sarcastic comment here). It would be almost comical if it weren’t so deadly serious. Determined not to let a good crisis go to waste, Obama inartfully and quite opportunistically hoisted his energy policy efforts onto the back of the BP oil gusher, as if legislation equals leadership.
And now he owns it — lock, stock and oil barrel.
Jacobus, president of Capitol Strategies PR, has managed congressional campaigns, worked on Capitol Hill and is an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. She appears on CNN, MSNBC and FOX News as a GOP strategist.