We’re in the third month after the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, and the extent to which the federal government has not only failed to contribute to a solution but has constituted a stumbling block is becoming clearer every day. It may be the only thing becoming clearer:
There’s a growing sense that things are unraveling, while those in charge in Washington play golf and conduct politics as usual. Jay Tea writes,
I’ve always been enamored of Professor Glenn Reynolds’ oft-repeated aphorism: “I’ll believe there’s a crisis when the people who say there’s a crisis act like there’s a crisis.” It’s a great BS detector, but it has some corollaries that I’m finding truly terrifying.
What does it mean when those people say there’s a crisis, I agree that there’s a crisis, but they refuse to act like there’s a crisis?…
The Obama administration wastes no opportunity to remind us of how dire the situation is in the Gulf. But its actions are utterly inconsistent with their words.
While the oil is still spewing, we have certain needs to best respond to the ongoing catastrophe. And those needs are not only being ignored by the Obama administration, but — in some cases — being actively sabotaged.
We need a strong, focused BP — the people who ran the rig that failed so disastrously — to lead the efforts in stopping the flow. They were the ones who ran it, who were in charge of it when it blew up. Unless we think they deliberately destroyed it, they are the best people to know exactly what happened and how best to stop it.
Instead, we have an administration that seems hell-bent on destroying BP. Hell, last week they extorted a $20-billion-dollar shakedown out of BP. And, cynically, the primary motive wasn’t to get that money, but to secure the federal government’s first dibs on BP’s assets should they file bankruptcy in the US. This was the same move the Obama administration pulled with GM and Chrysler — bypassing the normal rules of bankruptcy and screwing out the other creditors….
We need an easing of normal restrictions and limitations, freeing up all parties concerned to react swiftly to the impending slow-motion disaster. Instead, we have the Coast Guard turning away skimmers for inadequate life jackets, states being blocked from building berms due to long-term environmental impact concerns, foreign vessels and offers of assistance and expertise being ignored.
We need to find ways to minimize the immediate economic impact of the disaster, to somehow compensate for the loss of revenues from the damage in the Gulf. Instead, we have a proposed moratorium on all new offshore drilling, throwing even more people out of work, removing even more oil from our national supply.
We need to get the best and brightest and throw them at the problem. We need the experts, the geniuses, to figure out how best to stop the ongoing crisis, repair the harm it has caused, and prevent it from happening again.
Instead, we have a panel of experts finding their words distorted and their explicit rejection of a suspension of offshore drilling rewritten into an endorsement. And we have a new panel of “experts” who have absolutely no experience or knowledge of oil drilling, but have absolutely solid leftist credentials in Big Oil Bashing and environmental extremism.
He outlines four possibilities:
There are several possible explanations for this, and I have no idea which is the most frightening.
1) The disaster isn’t as bad as we all think it is, and the Obama administration knows that.
If that was true, then their “never let a crisis go to waste” response is understandable. Heinous, but understandable. This is an opportunity for them to push their agenda, and push it hard.
2) The disaster is as bad as we think, but the Obama administration doesn’t realize it.
This would be entirely in character with this administration. They are the Peter Principle writ large: they have been promoted past their level of competency. They simply can’t grasp that this disaster is a game-changer, so they are simply playing the game that they have played all their lives. Not because that’s what they think is best, but because that’s all they know how to do. “When your only tool is a hammer, all your problems start looking like nails.”
3) The disaster is at least as bad as we think, if not worse, and the Obama administration knows it.
If that is the case, then the only explanation that makes any sense is that they believe that the whole thing is a lost cause, that it is pretty much an unstoppable catastrophe, and they’re figuring that since we’re all pretty much fucked, they might as well get theirs before it all goes to hell.
4) The disaster isn’t as bad as we think it is, but the Obama administration doesn’t realize it.
That’s the fourth possibility of my little 2×2 matrix here, but I give it very little weight. It’s the most Pollyannaish of the possibilities, and fits in with the first part of “hope for the best, but plan for the worst.” I only include it here for the sake of completion.
I don’t know how bad the disaster is; I suspect no one knows at this point. But I’m sure the Obama administration doesn’t know, and doesn’t care. They have a very simple playbook: no matter what happens, blame it on your political enemies, and use it as an excuse to grab money and power. That’s all they know; that’s all they do. The facts are basically irrelevant.
Richard Fernandez sees this as part of a larger picture, in which things are getting very strange. Peter Orszag is leaving his position as budget chief just in time to avoid trying to cope with historically unprecedented deficits that are threatening the fiscal solvency not only of the United States but of the entire Western world. General McCrystal appears in Rolling Stone bashing the President as unprepared and uninterested in the situation in Afghanistan. Obama has called him to Washington, probably to be fired. But no one seems to doubt the truth of what he said; the only surprise is that he allowed himself to be quoted saying it.
We’re not in Kansas anymore, Fernandez concludes. In the comments section, he spells it out clearly, in a way that I think needs to be quoted in full and thought about carefully:
I think Roger correctly senses a something that is not quite right. We’ll eventually find out what exactly is the matter. What is worrisome isn’t the possibility that a President can have problems functioning. The Constitution anticipates that. What’s worrisome is the deer-in-the-headlines response of the institutions which would potentially work out these situations. It’s disturbing that General McChrystal should criticize the President openly. Military men should not do that. But if the civil institutions (the press, the Senate and political institutions) are unable to 1) clarify; 2) reassure 3) act in a timely fashion then you will have more incidents that inevitably damage the system.
The system is supposed to ascertain the facts discreetly, rationally and consensually. It already seems to have failed the a priori quality control task. But it still has an a posteriori role. If the the President is fundamentally competent it is the duty of the system to reassure the public this is so. To tell the doubters they’ve got it wrong. But so PC-shy, compromised and yoked to the system have the gatekeepers become that there is no clean rag left to tidy up the dirty rags. It’s not just the President that is going down in flames, but the whole pyramid that generated, validated and nurtured him.
Where are the unimpeachable voices, the respected judges, the sage professors, the holy and wise men, the men above suspicion who can look inside the Holy of Holies and say … thus? We have abolished them. In their place we’ve installed reality show contestants, celebrities, freaks, and talking heads. You wouldn’t take kewpie doll from them. With the system in that condition, stasis results and we’re only going to get more McChrystal incidents.
And if it so happens that the President, as Roger speculates, has a breakdown or manifestly gets in over his head, where are these sages who can depute themselves into the Oval Office and persuade the President to do … thus? Or are we in a situation where only the strict letter of the law, as exercised by the Senate, will decide all? Once the lawyers get in on it, the odds get slimmer.
Whatever happens from here on to the end the major blame must fall on institutions like the media. While we don’t know what ails the President completely, we know what afflicts some parts of the media to a nicety. You can reasonably predict the steady of the turning of the coats, the feigned awakening, the fake realizations that are far more sickening than the pitiful sight that the President may present. It’s called opportunism. How long till certain former ‘conservatives’ who style themselves anti-Christianists proclaim that they’ve suspected all along? No, please. Spare us that.
Obama did not afflict the country like some Biblical plague. The establishment brought him on themselves.
Nor should we be surprised that having precipitated the catastrophe on themselves that this same elite will lack the wit to pry the hatchet from their skulls. After all if they were smart enough to fix this, why the hell weren’t they smart enough to see it coming? Logically I can only conclude that they’ll act with as much competence as they’ve shown they don’t have.
The Left has the remarkably ability to chew off its own arm to preserve that inner, shrieking beast. It will throw the last of its spawn into the flames to keep its miserable memes going, and it will probably do so now. Society will have gained nothing if they can dispose of their problems by turning their backs on Barack Obama. This has to finish and not be heaped upon one man. That’s the original definition of a scapegoat. The meme which falsely states that we should give up our freedom to the elect must be pinned to the spotlight right until the end. Right until it drives a stake through its own heart, by its own volition, by its own self-hatred. We must either learn of our own accord or we will have only postponed our doom to another day.