Sunday, April 14, 2024

Oil spill leaves both political parties in the muck…

May 24, 2010 by  
Filed under News, Politics, Weekly Columns

( As tens of thousands of barrels of oil cause irreversible damage to shores of the Gulf of Mexico, this messy spill can’t come close to matching the massive political slop that will cover the Obama presidency as a result of this catastrophe. Attacks are coming from the right, left and center, as each additional day of oil coverage in the media lends yet another piece of indisputable evidence that this administration has been “punked” by the oil and gas industry.

Even President Obama’s usual allies, Chris Matthews and James Carville, have been highly critical of the president’s reaction to the BP disaster. Matthews recently asked of Obama, “When is he actually going to do something?” Carville pounded on his own criticism, stating that Obama is being naïve in assuming that BP is going to handle this crisis in an appropriate fashion. Perhaps Carville and Matthews are being too harsh, but their challenges to the president reflect the nation’s confusion about exactly who is wearing the political pants in the Obama administration.

Of course the attacks are going to come from the right as well. The most interesting critiques have come from political newcomer Rand Paul, who called Obama “un-American” for the way he has attacked BP. Apparently, Paul needs to be invited to more of the Republican talking point meetings, since his critique contradicts that of his buddy Sarah Palin, who says that Obama can’t handle the crisis effectively because his cozy relationship with BP impedes his ability to be effective. While it might be confusing to hear one Republican say that Obama is being too nice and another saying that he’s being too harsh, this cross-eyed attack on the president reminds us that Obama simply can’t win in this situation. This is going to be his Hurricane Katrina, with the only difference being that “Katrina 2010” is going to last for the entire summer.

Palin has apparently forgotten that she and John McCain took nearly three times more money from the oil and gas industry than Obama and even coined the phrase “drill baby, drill” as part of the 2008 election cycle. In fact, 75 percent of the $238.7 million in political donations from the oil and gas industry have gone to Republican candidates. It seems that the woman who didn’t know that Africa is a continent also doesn’t know who pays the bills in her own party.

But the bigger issue for President Obama is that the oil and gas industry owns everyone, including the Democrats. While the industry gave $2.4 million to John McCain and Sarah Palin, it also gave nearly $900,000 to Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Exxon, BP’s big brother, earned more than $40 billion in profits last year, the highest amount of money earned by any company in the history of the world (BP earned a “tiny” $16 billion itself). BP, the company that is turning the Gulf of Mexico into a can of WD-40, spent $16 million on lobbying last year and $3.5 million in the first quarter of 2010.

This lobbying effort has allowed the industry to cap its liability for spills at a measly $75 million, less than a day’s profits for Exxon. In other words, they can pay off our entire government with their lunch money, and there’s nothing we can do about it. The giant hole at the bottom of the gulf is not just leaking oil, it is leaking the loudest secret in all of American politics: BP can destroy our shores, kill the wildlife, cost people their livelihoods and destroy the entire regional eco-system, and even Barack Obama is relatively powerless to stop it.

The only question being pondered by the American people as a result of this crisis is whether they should cast more blame on Obama or BP. The answer is that they are going to blame them both. All the average American knows is that one big entity (corporate America) made a huge mess, and the entity being asked to protect American citizens (the federal government) has been virtually impotent in its response. It doesn’t matter who points the finger at whom, since this doesn’t bring back the dead birds on the shoreline or the huge economic losses in the region. Obama is going to be the whipping boy of this oil spill, and the pain is going to last all summer.

Written By Dr. Boyce Watkins

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