Is Louisiana trip Obama’s ticket Down Under?

June 3, 2010


President Barack Obama is due to take off this month for a trip to Australia and Indonesia that he has already rescheduled once because of pressing matters here in the United States. In March, the imminent passage of healthcare reform prompted him to put off the journey until June.

Now the talk in Washington is that the BP oil spill soiling the Gulf of Mexico could force him to put off the trip again — or even cancel it for good. 

Oil has been gushing into the Gulf since April 20, when the Transocean Ltd drilling rig Deepwater Horizon licensed to BP exploded, killing 11 workers.  The oil has devastated the ecology and economies of Gulf Coast states and put intense pressure on Obama to not just do something to stop it — a task that so far has proved impossible for BP — but to prove to Americans that he cares, and cares deeply,  about the crisis.

The president has been lambasted for what is seen as his failure to do so. “The man who walked on water is now ensnared by a crisis under water,” columnist Maureen Dowd wrote in The New York Times.  He has been hit hard for spending time on what are seen as frivolous presidential events, such as meetings with championship sports teams, or last night’s White House concert with Paul McCartney.

The trip to Australia and Indonesia could be labeled as more of the same, and speculation has been thick in Washington that Obama will call it off in order to show the nation he is firmly at the helm of the Gulf crisis. How could he risk being photographed on a beach in Bali while the U.S. coast is lapped with oil?

The White House announced on Thursday morning that Obama was heading to the Gulf region on Friday, his second trip there in seven days, and his third since the rig explosion.

But with the well still gushing, would it be enough to let him take the longer trip?

Click here for more Reuters political coverage

Picture credit:  A roadside sign expresses resentment towards BP and U.S. President Barack Obama over the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. REUTERS/Lee Celano


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

I once read that Maureen Dowd was one of President Obama’s greatest fans, if not THE greatest. For her to criticize Mr. Obama, well, perhaps this Gulf business really is hurting him. Speaking as a Canadian, I really cannot grasp why Mr. Obama is being blamed for this mess, nor could I understand why President Bush was pilloried over Hurricane Katrina. Not being a fan of Mr. Obama – definitely not a fan! – I’d rather see him fall on a substantive policy issue that just didn’t work due to his arrogance or intransigence, rather than over an accident that, really, he didn’t cause and is powerless to affect in any meaningful way. Colour me puzzled.

Posted by Gotthardbahn | Report as abusive

I absolutely agree with Gotthardbahn.

The biggest concern we should all have over this situation is the extent of collateral damage that is likely to ensue.

Liberal political posturing here is leading to bigger government, higher taxes, and most importantly for most of us HIGHER FUEL costs.

Posted by ArmisticeX | Report as abusive

I am retired from the oil lease option business. Facts are that less than 5% of offshore oil drilling goes to the US. Most is BP proprietory oil to be bid on, in the international market. None, if any, benefits the US. Secondly, legally the US has released its sovereign perogative of control over the drilling processes to the free market forces. It does not surprise me that neither G.W.Bush or Obama would be in any rush to respond to this problem. For the most part, the US Congess and the Executive Branch have already given up any/all jurisdiction over the drilling procesess and the oil that is yielded from under the Continental Shelf.
This is the way things work in a Foreign/National/US global economy. Get real, either you’re in favor of Free Market Captalism and Democracy or you’re in favor of a rigidly controlled socialism.
In my opinion, Gov.Jindal most likely knows this and I think he will likely urge the resumption of off-shore drilling ASAP. Its been my observtion that most Gulf Coast politicans, be they republican or democrat, benefit greatly from the large political contributions from the major oil production players. After all, corporations have the same rights as people under the law. It is not due to bigger government; its just the way it is with the multi-national corporations and the free market capitalism that drives our way of life.

Posted by OilOptionTrader | Report as abusive

I think the difference here between Obama and Bush is that when Bush realized Fema wasn’t getting the job done (along with the Mayor and Governor who split town) and he went down there to Katrina he immediately called in the Military and National Guard and the situation turned around quickly. I know this oil spill is different but from what I’ve heard President Obama is not responding quickly to the requests of the Governor to protect the shoreline. Also, I heard on the news today that the CEO of BP Tony Hayward (the one that is running the PR commercials) says that he has never spoken to President Obama once since the spill began. It seems that a crisis like this would warrant daily briefing with him. Having photo opps of that would inspire more confidence than all of his state dinners and basketball photos do. It’s not his fault that this happened but he is our leader and we need to see some leadership now.

Posted by lorreann | Report as abusive