Tales from the Trail

Grading the president

June 16, 2010

worlde

We asked some of our contributors to grade the president’s Oval Office speech on the Gulf oil spill. You can leave your own grade in the comments or via our poll.

Jim Saft, Reuters columnist

The military rhetoric, the spill “assaulting our shores,” is bogus and dangerous. I can see why Obama would want to use metaphors of attack and defense: when the nation is attacked people rally round the executive and poll numbers go up in a satisfying way. That is why this is both a much abused and increasingly dangerous technique among presidents, and not just Obama. Now that we have a War on Greasy Beaches to supplement the War on Terror. What next? Do I hear the distant sound of marching feet as an army marshals for a War on Unemployment or a War on High Fructose Corn Syrup? Spare me.

Grade: C-

Marc Levinson, senior fellow in international business at the Council on Foreign Relations

He did a good job of defining what public policy needs to do with respect to regulating offshore oil; if he’d said this a month ago, I’d give him an A. He deserves extra credit for admitting that the transition to clean energy will have costs, something that government officials rarely concede.

Grade: B+

Bernd Debusmann, Reuters columnist

Well-delivered speech, good summary of what happened. But he made a prediction that may well fall short of what can be done – capturing 90% of the oil within weeks or months. What I liked most was his take on the scale of the disaster and his reference to what the U.S. managed to do during World War II — stand together and build enough tanks — and the success in sending a man to the moon. What he lacked was an explanation of what would happen in the short term to the thousands of people involved in drilling. Setting up a commission to study this is hardly likely to reassure those whose livelihood is threatened.

Grade: B

Gregg Easterbrook, Reuters columnist

“We shall fight the oil on the beaches, we shall fight the oil on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets…” Okay, President Barack Obama didn’t go completely 1940 Winston Churchill http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=1940-06-04a.787.0. But what’s with all the military references – “battle plan,” “siege,” tank production in World War II. Huh?

This is an oil spill, not a war. Presidents hide behind we’re-at-war rhetoric when they want to avoid criticism – hiding behind we’re-at-war rhetoric was George W. Bush’s worst fault. Now we see this in Barack Obama, over as little as an oil spill!

Yes the spill is a serious problem, especially if you live on the Louisiana coast. It is no “tragedy” (said twice) nor even remotely “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced” (is Katrina, just five years ago, already forgotten?). Washington always wants to make problems sound worse than they are, because this can justify more money and power for Washington. But Obama’s going overboard by speaking of the Gulf spill as some unimaginable calamity. A few years from now it may be hard to tell where the spill happened! About two years passed before it was hard to tell where the Exxon Valdez spill happened. However worrisome, the current Gulf spill doesn’t even belong on a list of the top 10 problems facing the country today.

PS #1: Obama said Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen has “almost forty years of experience responding to disasters.” Huh? What? There have been that many disasters in the last 40 years?!??!?

PS #2: The president spent too much time on politically-correct green energy rhetoric yet barely mentioned his administration’s leading energy achievement – mandating a one-third improvement in car and truck MPG numbers. Higher MPG standards are a tremendous accomplishment for Obama and far more important than the pie-in-the-sky ideas the Democratic left pressures the White House to emphasize.

Grade: C

How would you grade Obama's first Oval Office address?

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(Image of words used in speech courtesy of http://www.wordle.net/)

Comments
17 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

This oil spill is so much worse than anything else you can even imagine, and for you people to trivialize this in any respect ,makes you idiots. This environmental castastrophy is not about Obama or Democrats or Republicans, Its about the desecration of the Earth on which we all live. For any one to try to make this political is a criminal act. We as Humans have f___ed up and we all have to look at our past actions and say what were we thinking?

Posted by getinshape | Report as abusive
 

That’s the problem. Amercians have not been doing much thinking lately. The blame for this catastrophe lies with us Americans as it does with BP and the president. Maybe if we stopped driving SUVs and started driving more effient vehicles, recycled, ate organic food, stop putting chemicals on our lawns, you get the idea, we wouldn’t be needing to drill a mile under the ocean to get oil. I know, I know it’s a pipe dream, but here’s hoping the giant spreading mass of goo angers us into action that actually reduces oil consumption. I don’t see it happening, we have great difficulty as a nation connecting the dots and taking blame/responsibiity for our stupidity and selfishness.

Posted by BB1978 | Report as abusive
 

Those to be blamed for this disaster fill every seat in our federal government. Our politicians care more about appeasing lobbyists and special interests than their constituents. Since companies care only about their bottom line (as they should), it is our government that has failed to limit how much damage these companies can do. BP may be responsible for the spill, but only because our government allowed it. Mr. President, you are responsible for fixing the problem. If you only go after BP, then the damages might be paid, but you still will have done nothing to fix the problem. You promised change, and we’re waiting.

Posted by uh_huh | Report as abusive
 

Oh please, blame everybody in America? I have a drivers license, and I’ve driven a car… how could I have been so irresponsible?! I’ll punch myself a few times. Ah, that feels better. If we blame everybody, then nobody will be held accountable.

Most Americans are only guilty of working hard every day to survive. Some must commute, and some drive big cars. This is hardly criminal. Who is to blame for the lack of alternative energy choices? Why don’t we have a greater selection of ‘green’ transportation? Who is to blame for poor fuel economy in existing cars? Who is to blame for stagnant energy research?

Americans have been spoon-fed lies and non-issues by our politicians because they fuel the agendas of special interest groups. Things that really matter are avoided and replaced by ‘hot button’ topics to win votes. Its ‘pie in the sky’, but this is the change I’d like to see.

Posted by uh_huh | Report as abusive
 

I’ve read various articles (mainly outside mainstream media) where this could be a much bigger problem than what we are hearing. For instance, the well casing itself may have been compromised, further jeopardizing containment. The effects of the toxic oil lake brewing under the water and toxic vapors being released into the air. I’ve read about offers of help from other countries such as Finland and Russia, who have experience dealing with underwater spills. So my question is why aren’t we hearing more from these scientists, environmentalists, engineers, geologists, etc. Who all seem to agree they’re not getting access to the information they need. We hear plenty from government officials who have become very good at saying absolutely nothing. It’s as if their only job is to reassure the public that everything is under control.

Mr. Obama, this tragedy has nothing to do with war, or 9/11, or Katrina. These references are a cheap political shot. This is about a company who profited from lack of oversight and regulation. As have certain other companies I can think of. To the extent that BP’s negligence has caused not just a financial meltdown, but an environmental meltdown, is there really much difference. If BP doesn’t have the expertise to control this thing (which it appears they do not), then why hasn’t the government taken over and called in experts from around the world. Because this is now a global issue. I don’t want to hear about future drilling and alternative energy, or how BP is responsible for paying the costs, or how as a nation working together we can somehow resurrect the gulf. I want to hear from knowledgeable people about the present and potential impact this is having on the planet and exactly what can and is being done to control this thing. Because if all you have to offer is Hope, it may not work this time.

Posted by Gumstick | Report as abusive
 

Well said Gumstick.
The US government spends trillions on defence, coming up with contingencies for fighting imaginary enemies. What a pity it can’t divert 1% of that money into coming up with contingencies for dealing with this kind of scenario before it happens.
Really though, I’m pretty sure any 1st year Engineering student could have come up with a workable plan to plug the spill by now if given the chance.
The astronauts of Apollo 13 were sure lucky they weren’t dependent on the ingenuity of the clowns running this operation.

Posted by RandomName2nd | Report as abusive
 

I agree with gumstick and bb1978. While this is not a Republican or Democratic issue, why has it taken almost two months to get to this point? Why did the President not explain that? Why did FEMA not got involved at the start? Are we all so stupid that we don’t think the oil companies have Washington deep in their pockets? I realize that Presidents have little authority, and not every issue that comes up is Obama’s responsibility – but what are the government agencies doing? We should fire every one of them, demand all of their salaries back, and make all of them look to social security like the rest of us. Maybe that would get their attention.

Posted by sb0623 | Report as abusive
 

sb0623 that easier said than done. When you cut the budgets of government agencies that are responsible for oversight, this is exactly what happens. People in this country want less government in there lives? They need to be prepared to deal with the consequences: which is catastrophic disasters like this one. Preparedness takes time, experience, and MONEY. It doesn’t happen overnight after a disaster has occurred. Not only that, if agencies who are supposed to be doing clean up don’t get the research dollars to figure out how to do that, how are they supposed to be effective when a disaster happens? Small goverments = relying on corporations to clean up there mess. If that’s not what you want, don’t scream about how government is taking over your life.

Posted by BB1978 | Report as abusive
 

And to think BP is about to allow it’s 80,300 Employees a 30 day “Holiday” (Vacation) for the entire month of August.

These People not only DON’T deserve a “Holiday”, They should be Protesting their OWN Company By Offering to come to the Gulf Coast THEMSELVES and Clean up this mess and CAP THE WELL COMPLETELY AT COMPANY COST.

STALL, STALL, STALL, BP SPEAK FOR ACTION !!!!!!!! Fire them ALL. They don’t have a CLUE How to Cap this Well and Shouldn’t be in the Business of OIL to begin with.

Posted by Pangaea7 | Report as abusive
 

I’m a Democrat and long-time Obama supporter. But he sounded hapless and clueless last night. Then, when he asked everyone to pray, I nearly fell out of my chair. Prayer? That’s his plan? Pray to an imaginary sky god to help us in our hour of need? At that moment I lost a huge measure of respect for the man and his leadership abilities. I am now of the opinion that he is out of his depth. And instead of taking charge in a decisive way he deferred to BP, yet again. When will he realize that BP is not an ally, but an adversary in this fight? He is the commander in chief of the armed forces. There is a large contingent of the US Navy in the Gulf of Mexico. This is a national emergency. Why not get them involved in this? Why not appoint an admiral to coordinate this war against the oil?

Posted by IntoTheTardis | Report as abusive
 

Too little, too late – SSDD. I think everyone gets it, the oil spill is a catastrophe on a national scale; so we needed BO to tells us that? I do grow tired of BO beating the green energy drum. We will sooner find the unicorn they realize the millions of jobs that are to be had for the taking in this ‘new economy’. This many jobs do not exist, the workforce in the US will largely not benefit, and the cost of each job to me, the consumer, will be exorbitant.

Posted by kevin2oh | Report as abusive
 

Obama is out of his depth, but this has shown up before as well. The oil industry is indeed a partner, it has to be. In fact everyone has to partner up in the short run to get the well capped and to mitigate the damages. There will be plenty of time in the future to decide who should be a foe. That is what this leader should have done. He should have said “to BP, the oil industry, residents affected, environmental groups, energy policy analysts – right now let us do everything we can to stop the oil gushing into the gulf and to clean up what has already been spilled. Together. Suspend all political activity until we have made progress on this front. Then some months from now we can go back to the debate about who was to blame, who should go to prison, who should be partners, where to go with energy policy from here. Focus now on stopping the spill and cleaning up. Everybody.”

Posted by AmericaninCan1 | Report as abusive
 

The one good idea Obama proposed is the escrow fund, administered outside of BP. It also should be accompanied by a cap on BP liability – a number that is realistic and will keep BP from going bankrupt. I have seen analysts say the company can afford $20 billion. If that is the number declare it is the limit. No question the third party fund will be subject to swindles and frauds, but at least we would avoid the hundreds of billions of dollars in class action suits against BP and the legal fees the company would have to pay. A cap like this introduces some certainty and allows BP and everyone else to focus on stopping the spill and cleaning up.

Posted by AmericaninCan1 | Report as abusive
 

You can tell the BO should receive an F for this speech. At least one commentator mentioned how good BO looked during the speech, before getting to what BO said.

Wow, if he looks good then his speech and response to the oil spill can be sort of OK. All you BO is our saviour nuts I hope you appreciate BO looks good while he sinks the USA.

Posted by MagAodh | Report as abusive
 

How much money in tax breaks are Americans going to get when they buy solar enegery panels and the systems to go with them to heat water and homes?

Posted by 2pesos | Report as abusive
 

Enough Is Enough!

Our Great and Wise Founders gave U.S. all the Wisdom we need. Everything they taught U.S. is still completely relevant today. We are a Constitutional Republic. A Sovereign and Free People.

“Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.” –George Washington

“We the People” have slowly allowed Our government to get way off track. This can never happen again. Its time to clean house and also dismantle a very large and unnecessary portion of Our Federal government.

Our tool (government) has become a Monster.

“The people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived.” -James Madison

Capitalism and Free markets never failed U.S. as we have Not had a pure system in place since the Federal Reserve was established. The Fed has perverted our government with massive corruption.

Corruption, deception, fraud, lies and lack of Integrity can no-longer be tolerated. The Fed has to End. Period!

“Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.” –Thomas Jefferson

Progressives and Globalists are an infection to Our Great U.S.A. and go completely opposite and against Our unquestionable God-Given Freedoms and Liberties.

“Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” –Thomas Jefferson

Obama must NOW Resign!

Obama, you can never be the Legal President of the U.S.A. Ever! Nobody is above the Law.

Obama’s signature and FALSE Authority is NULL and VOID on ALL Executive Orders, Legislature, Treaties, Laws and Appointments.

“We the People” can NOT just pick and choose the parts of Law – “Our Beloved Constitution” – that we will follow or enforce.

Article 2 Section 1 Clause 5 of the Constitution of the united States says:

“No Person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the united States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President;”

Everybody knows the Truth! Truth Is Always Truth!

Obama, you might Not even be a U.S. citizen.

Man Up Obama!

Americans can be very forgiving, This is your chance to finally do something right. Everything Is going to be exposed and brought into the light no-matter what anyway. Be the first to resign, and let U.S. move forward quickly. Go from Zero to Hero for U.S. or do you hate U.S. that bad?

Congressmen, Senators, Judges, Federal Reserve, Prosecutors and others please come forward with resignations quickly. You all know who you are, never underestimate “We the People” again. Now is your chance to be part of the correct solution instead of the problem.

Experience the Mercy of a very special and Great People. “We the People” need to quickly fix, heal, and move past the problems you created. Or do you hate U.S. that bad?

Do you really believe in your wildest imagination the True, Just, and Rightful Power – “We the People” would ever allow the criminal theft of Our God-Given Freedoms and Liberties. Our Constitution protects U.S. and the Sacred Oath of Office is loyal to the Constitution. We are a Sovereign Nation and a Sovereign People. Our Constitution is always in favor of and loyal to “We the People”. Our government is ONLY Our tool.

Enough Is Enough!

Truth Is Truth! Do the Right thing!

http://www.tomdavidd.com/blog/

“God Bless America, but most importantly, America Must Bless God!”

“We now must call for the immediate resignation of Barry Soetero (AKA President Barack Hussein Obama) …..based on Incompetence, Deceit, Fraud, Corruption, Dishonesty and Violation of the US Oath of Office and the Constitution.” — Paul E. Vallely

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqvCg2JAZ F4

Posted by thomdd1959 | Report as abusive
 

Our Great and Wise Founders gave U.S. all the Wisdom we need. Everything they taught U.S. is still completely relevant today. We are a Constitutional Republic. A Sovereign and Free People.

“Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.” –George Washington

“We the People” have slowly allowed Our government to get way off track. This can never happen again. Its time to clean house and also dismantle a very large and unnecessary portion of Our Federal government.

Our tool (government) has become a Monster.

“The people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived.” -James Madison

Capitalism and Free markets never failed U.S. as we have Not had a pure system in place since the Federal Reserve was established. The Fed has perverted our government with massive corruption.

Corruption, deception, fraud, lies and lack of Integrity can no-longer be tolerated. The Fed has to End. Period!

“Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.” –Thomas Jefferson

Progressives and Globalists are an infection to Our Great U.S.A. and go completely opposite and against Our unquestionable God-Given Freedoms and Liberties.

“Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” –Thomas Jefferson

Obama must NOW Resign!

Obama, you can never be the Legal President of the U.S.A. Ever! Nobody is above the Law.

Obama’s signature and FALSE Authority is NULL and VOID on ALL Executive Orders, Legislature, Treaties, Laws and Appointments.

“We the People” can NOT just pick and choose the parts of Law – “Our Beloved Constitution” – that we will follow or enforce.

Article 2 Section 1 Clause 5 of the Constitution of the united States says:

“No Person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the united States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President;”

Everybody knows the Truth! Truth Is Always Truth!

Obama, you might Not even be a U.S. citizen.

Man Up Obama!

Americans can be very forgiving, This is your chance to finally do something right. Everything Is going to be exposed and brought into the light no-matter what anyway. Be the first to resign, and let U.S. move forward quickly. Go from Zero to Hero for U.S. or do you hate U.S. that bad?

Congressmen, Senators, Judges, Federal Reserve, Prosecutors and others please come forward with resignations quickly. You all know who you are, never underestimate “We the People” again. Now is your chance to be part of the correct solution instead of the problem.

Experience the Mercy of a very special and Great People. “We the People” need to quickly fix, heal, and move past the problems you created. Or do you hate U.S. that bad?

Do you really believe in your wildest imagination the True, Just, and Rightful Power – “We the People” would ever allow the criminal theft of Our God-Given Freedoms and Liberties. Our Constitution protects U.S. and the Sacred Oath of Office is loyal to the Constitution. We are a Sovereign Nation and a Sovereign People. Our Constitution is always in favor of and loyal to “We the People”. Our government is ONLY Our tool.

Enough Is Enough!

Truth Is Truth! Do the Right thing!

http://www.tomdavidd.com/blog/

“God Bless America, but most importantly, America Must Bless God!”

Posted by thomdd1959 | Report as abusive
 

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