Bill Murchison

"Never let a crisis go to waste" -- a watchword of the present administration -- finds its deepest, as it were, meaning in the offshore oil rig crisis. There, the idiocy of modern politics impatiently waits discovery.

We're sure to find it. The idiocy of modern politics is that politics has less to do with solving problems than with making racket to cover up the fact that politics rarely solves problems.

We learned from Robert Gibbs this week that President Obama's jaw was "clenched" as he considered in meetings a problem -- the blowout -- that he didn't know how to address. Lack of understanding (e.g., health care reform) rarely silences a modern politician. Therefore the government is:

Rush Limbaugh

1) Dispatching Attorney General Eric Holder to see if he can turn up any criminal charges to lodge against British Petroleum, among others, for conspiring to hammer its stock price (down $18 billion as of Tuesday) and its international reputation. (We learn this the same day we learn the Justice Department's inspector general says the department has no "policies or plans" for dealing with an "incident" involving weapons of mass destruction.)

2) Putting forth Colin Powell to suggest military or other government intervention in the matter.

3) Refusing (never mind the cost in lost time) to expand offshore drilling prior to a full investigation of the present mess.

4) Shouldering BP out of daily news briefings on the evident assumption that the people working hardest on the problem have the least to say about it.

5) Asserting (environmental adviser Carol Browner) that "We've" -- i.e., the administration -- "always been in charge" of the plugging job.

Though probably I've missed nine or 10 or 36 additional indications of the administration's outstanding competence in battling BP while BP battles the blowout.

Now none of this -- especially unloosing the posse -- makes a bit of sense when it comes to getting the well plugged. Never mind. We're not so much into plugging the well, up Washington way, as we're into muscle-flexing, chest-pounding, and ominous yells of the sort Lex Barker might have emitted in his Tarzanic prime. That ought to jazz up morale out there in the Gulf, where the would-be pluggers plug on.

It's mostly sound and fury; which figures, as 21st-century politics is mostly about sound and fury for the sake, generally speaking, of self-promotion (any recent U.S. presidents come to mind?) and sticking it to the opposition.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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