Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Thoughts On The First Oval Office Address

After watching the President's address on the Gulf disaster, I was a little surprised to hear the disappointed reaction and frustration of the talking heads. And I don't mean Fox News; they will do whatever it takes to tamp down anything positive about Obama. I mean the supposed Obama Channel, MSNBC.

While this disaster could have been capitalized into a JKF style, mission to the moon moment in terms of turning our country towards clean energy, a moment that in my opinion was disappointingly missed, I realized half way through the speech, that what I was hearing wasn't directed at me. It wasn't directed at the political junkies and cable news addicts of our country. It was directed at the other 300 million people of this country. People who's sole interaction with news is about 30 minutes of a local newscast, perhaps two or three of those minutes directed at the Gulf crisis. And in that sense, I feel it was a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation for the President.

MSNBC talking heads Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann ripped into President Obama for not being more specific in his "battle plan" for the Gulf. But if he had gone into greater detail, my guess would be that the criticism would have been that he's too professorial or too wonky. Had he revealed a plan to take BP into temporary receivership, as former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has recently suggested, cries of "SOCIALISM!" would have drowned out all other points of his speech.

But what did we really want him to say? That BP is going to pay for everything? He said that.

...But make no mistake: we will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long 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.
Did we need him to mention something about prosecutions for possible crimes? Attorney General Eric Holder's already on it. Do we want a tough talker to make us feel better and then moan when he promises something that he knows (and we know) can't be delivered? Or do we want a smart pragmatist  who doesn't always shoot from the hip and later regret it?

He spoke to us like adults and didn't sugar coat the current situation.
...Because there has never been a leak of this size at this depth, stopping it has tested the limits of human technology. 
...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 we have to recognize that despite our best efforts, oil has already caused damage to our coastline and its wildlife. And sadly, no matter how effective our response becomes, there will be more oil and more damage before this siege is done.
It would have been a fist pumping moment for liberals and progressives to see a tough talking, no shit taking, mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore Barack Obama beating the crap out of BP, their CEO Tony Hayward, and small government hypocrites who are now crying the government isn't doing enough. But that's not who Barack Obama is, and I wonder why we keep getting surprised when he doesn't do something the way we'd like him to do it.  And when he does say something out of the ordinary in a rare display of frustration or anger, he's vilified for it as well.

But I am also tired of the impatience (I'm guilty of it myself sometimes) of expecting the last 8 years of a clusterfuck government and 30 years of deregulation and Reaganomics to be cleaned up in 18 months.

If Obama turns out to be a one term president, it will be because we have become a country of instant gratification and not figured out that that's not how the world works. You'd think that after the "wanted dead or alive" failed promises of the past decade, we'd know better.


Annette said...

Very insightful Carlos.. I agree with all except one point...

What JFK moment are you talking about... when he promised to go to the moon in 10 years... with no details of how or what it was going to involve...

Well Pres. Obama did the same thing... he said we need clean renewable energy and didn't flesh it out either... So I think it was his JFK moment.... we have to remember... He doesn't write it... that is up to Congress... he just needs to make the Senate pass the bill the House has already done and then sign it into law...

He has made some great strides into wind and solar in the Recovery Act. That's more than we have had in forever...

Broadway Carl said...

Annette - While I agree with your point partially...

JFK: "Now it is time to take longer strides--time for a great new American enterprise--time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth.

I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshaled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment."

BHO: "For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we have talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again, the path forward has been blocked — not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.

The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be here in America. Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. And today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude.

We cannot consign our children to this future. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash American innovation and seize control of our own destiny."

... where he fell flat (in my opinion) was to defer the build up of those three previous paragraphs to the House climate bill.

If you look at the JFK "moon speech" he specifies monies, budgets and a timetable. I wish President Obama had done the same.

NowhereMan said...

If you look at Jimmy Carter's speech to the nation in the 70s during the oil crisis,he laid out a detailed vision of a new energy policy.Thats the kind of speech Obama should've made.But your right,How can you make a speech about the huge oil leak and not incorporated into the climate bill sitting in the Senate?I just don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Blue Dog Dems are looking purple these days. Holding their breath for a "plan" or "action" from the Obaminator. "O" is all about maintaining the Status Quo (that means the way things are already for those of you in the Red States).

Don't plug the hole, the BP needs that oil (almost as much as the sea creatures) FAIL!

Broadway Carl said...

Blue Dog Dems have always been purple , Michale. That's the point. But you go ahead and keep thinking that the status quo is what Obama wants to maintain. I guess that's why he said, "The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash American innovation and seize control of our own destiny."