Say it's not so, Joe -- that you're actually sorry for mussing up the Obama administration over its treatment of BP.
Congressman Barton, sir, never mind what the party leaders made you say in riposte to your own verbal thrust last week. You were right the first time -- right to call out the White House for tactics extralegal at best, embarrassing to many who continue for some odd reason to look to the Oval Office for moral leadership.
The White House's behavior has the odor of a dead cow. That's the bottom line -- a more urgent matter than Barton's decision to air his dead-on appraisal in the context of an "apology" to Tony Hayward and his company.
Hayward and the BP wimps who rolled over, scrubbed their projected dividend, and acceded to the president's demand for a $20 billion escrow fund deserve a kick in the pants more they do than an expression of regret. Nor, as Texas Congressman Joseph Barton acknowledged in his public declaration to Hayward, should the company escape reproach for bad decisions.
The worst thing about Joe Barton's "apology" (coupled with his apology for the apology) is the implication abroad in political and media circles that Barton was a jerk to have "apologized" the first time.
The implication draws attention, alas, from the truth Barton addressed. Obama's attempts at intimidating BP warrant more than a passing glance. Barton was right: this thing sets "a terrible precedent for the future." A couple of terrible precedents.
Precedent No. 1: Trying a company (for that matter any entity) in the media when the imputed injury is large enough. That BP is responsible for the spill seems clear enough. Responsible in what way? Responsible to what degree, and at what cost? Don't we care to find out?
Precedent No. 2: Inspiring politicians (as if they need the inspiration) to get out in front of the lynch mob, throwing nooses over tree branches.