"Our Country!
In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right;
but right or wrong, our country!"

    --Commodore Stephen Decatur

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Real Enemy is Cynicism

President Obama famously said while still a candidate that, "...our rivals won't be one another, and I would assert it won't even be the other party.  It's going to be cynicism that we're fighting against."  Apparently he is waging an epic internal struggle against himself.  The Washington Post reports today that Obama has realized that the crude oil bubbling up in the Gulf of Mexico is destroying more than federally protected wetlands.  In response, he is now going to press for climate change legislation in a cynical move to deflect public anger away from himself.
President Obama tried Wednesday to channel public outrage about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill into support for a climate-change bill, seeking to redefine an issue that threatens to tarnish his presidency.

...Allies of the president have argued for weeks that the administration should stop talking about BP, the oil company responsible for the spill, and instead tap into the public attention to the catastrophe in hopes of giving it at least some redemptive value in the long term.
Obama fears that this crisis could destroy what little credibility he has left with an angry American public.  President Obama made a big point during his press conference to tell the nation that he's "in charge," but after spending so much time trying to convince the American people that he can do anything, Obama now must grapple with the limits of the government's power.  Congress can pass as many laws as they would like and the Justice Department can sue everything in sight, but the oil keeps bubbling up.

When a disaster strikes, people often look to the government for help.  Floods and earthquakes are acts of God and only a few fringe crackpots would think of blaming the government in their aftermath.  This disaster is different.  Although Obama claims that BP bears full responsibility, it is clear that government regulations meant to avert this type of spill were not being enforced.  Few people will be fooled by a cynical ploy to divert attention away from the spill and the government failures which contributed to it.  Obama can talk himself blue in the face about punishing BP, but what about reforming government?

Presumably, Democrats in the House of Representatives did not anticipate a massive oil spill when they passed their version of the climate change legislation almost a year ago.  Jamming the same legislation through the Senate would be a naked power grab, and would do nothing to reduce the dangers of another spill.  Furthermore, as long as the sludgy crude oil is washing ashore, it is ludicrous for Obama to ask people to entrust the government with even more power when his administration is so obviously unable to wield the power it already has.

[Editor's Note: if you would like to help the cleanup efforts in the Gulf, please support one of the charities listed in an earlier post here on the Prolix Patriot.]

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