Since this happened I've been commenting in various places that there seem to be no "there" there when it comes to this Administration. It has, as a crisis team, performed remarkably poorly. The Administrations response to this crisis in the Gulf of Mexico is stunning in its punyness as David Gergen points out in a CNN story.
Although this disaster is not an existential threat, it could be argued that if the U.S. government had fought World War II in the same way it has fought the oil spill, we might well be speaking German now.
I'm not a Gergen fan. He is, however and intelligent and engaged insider in Washington whose opinions reflect his milieu and counts for something.
Gergen gives, essentially, some suggestions.
Faced with a growing danger to our well-being, a WWII-type government would at minimum have:
- Brought in the CEOs of all the major oil companies and charged them with the duty of an all-hands collaborative effort to stop the spill and help ward off the damage.
- Brought in the best minds in the country, from universities and technology, for emergency efforts to find solutions.
- Moved quickly to mobilize the National Guard and other military forces, if necessary, ensuring that they received the resources needed to protect our beaches.
- Made a clear call to citizen volunteers to help where necessary.
- Given Cabinet officers an ultimatum: Get this under control in the next 30 days, or else.
This was, to me, obvious after the first week. What is surprising to me is that I saw very little of this in the MSM. In fact the MSM basically but this horror of an event on the back-burner of its hierarchy of news. Any intelligent observer of the American political scene knows that placement of the news is usually politically motivated by the MSM. If powerful political forces say to downplay the story the MSM, in unison, will downplay it. If you are shocked then I suggest you hang out a bit in Washington like I have for three decades.
Worse, on this site when criticizing the Obama administration on its handling of the crisis I and others have elicited a little storms of indignation.
What I'd like to know is what is wrong with Gergen's approach--not in his particulars but in the general approach. This is not a little spill on Alaska ice--harmful and bad but not the end of the world. This spill is, in a metaphorical sense, a kind of end of the world. I say this because someone I know who has spent a lifetime caring for and advocating for animals in a sometimes heroic way said to me in grief "it's the end of the world." What she meant by this I'm not sure but it came out of a heart that bleeds for all living things in a way mine doesn't. I'm trying to say to all you who might read this: do you fucking realize how fucking important this is? Do you realize what this tells us about the attitude of this country and this site when this mega, mega, event happens and people here are worried about me and others criticizing Obama?
Maybe this thing will finally, after five long weeks, be capped. Maybe, maybe, maybe. But the concern here at DKOS ought to be for what this says about Democrats and this administration. Whether or not the administration has done the right thing or not this is of the utmost importance and should be on the front burner, not because I said so, but because our oceans are very fragile right now. If you don't give a fuck about that then how about this being the crown in the jewel of this administration's show of insensitivity to anything left of center Democrats might be concerned about--we all know the long litany--war, war, war, torture, torture, bailout of Wall Street, lack of interest in prosecuting massive fraud, lukewarm support of barely breathing financial reform efforts, bogus HCR bill (sorry the bill is slightly better than worthless) to name just a few things.
I may have a bad attitude but I can guarantee you that Obama is now looking bad not just to me but to important members of the Washington establishment who are in a position to make things very difficult for Obama. I would remind you that the last President who pissed off that establishment was Jimmy Carter--though I'm sure no one will ever be able to achieve the degree of pure hatred he elicited.
Update: 1) Please note I don't worship Gergen and I don't even think Gergen would stand by everyone of his suggestions. It's just a start for a good discussion; 2) yes, there are many things being done but they are not well-coordinated neither as a practical matter nor a effective PR manner; and 3) I should have added that this is a matter for physicists like the late Dr. Feynman--an international panel should be convened ASAP not just to fix this spill but to create a better understanding and further study of the physical problems of deep ocean.
Update 2:I guess I am surprised to be on rec list on what I thought was a very humble diary (think Nixon's Checker's Speech)--I admit this is not a carefully researched diary and I'm not an engineer. I do however, understand crisis management and this Administration has not handled it the way any manager would handle a crisis--I'm sorry but I do know what I'm talking about since I'm kind of an old guy who has been around the block a few times--in Washington in fact. Having said that I'm struck by the vociferous defensiveness and anger displayed by people who attack me and David Gergen as if we were fiends because we criticize this Administration. Gergen is not Satan, me, I'm not so sure>. Gergen is a Washington insider and offers great insights on a regular basis and he is not, a right-winger at all but a centrist. This is a painful subject and I am only trying to express that pain and some small insight. The oceans mean a lot to me and I think they should mean a lot to you. Maybe I'm wrong about all this and Gergen is a twit (as someone said--one of the milder accolades) but please think about the oceans and your relationship to them.
***Final Update: I've tried to make a point I should have made but never realized people on this blog didn't understand crisis management. Good crisis management techniques were not used and are not being used. You must create a centralized clearing house with one and only one spokesperson and a coordinating committee led by a major figure in the White House like Rahm Emmanuel of the Vice President. To think that difficult crises cannot be met (a strange argument) and that the President has already done everything he could does not pass muster and will not pass muster with official Washington. Look at how the financial crisis was handled by the Bush administration. The problems were spectacular and immense and time was of the essence. They fucking pulled it off! Yes, they pulled it off in a way I don't like and that invites future problems but, in the short run, the did the job! Did you forget that--it was not easy either. I have a feeling that if Geitner were in charge of this mess it would be getting results by now.