Dan Kennedy

President Obama finally met with BP leaders. Immediately thereafter, Tony Hayward was made a CEO in exile. Undoubtedly he’ll soon be an ex-CEO. When Obama wants a CEO fired, by gum, they are fired.

Sen. Shelby suggested Tony needs to go altogether. Rep. Cao suggested Tony needs to commit hari kari. Gee, even Obama hasn’t yet dared suggest a CEO kill himself. The Congressman making this suggestion has not been asked by anybody to apologize, let alone resign.

And don’t dare call the administration’s thuggery by its name. When Rep. Barton suggested that Obama had subjected BP’s executives to “a shakedown,” the media wolves leapt on him and his cowardly colleagues disowned him.

Sure, everybody’s got a right to be mad as an oil-soaked pelican at BP. And yes, BP must bear the legitimate costs of damage it wrought. But not for additional economic destruction wrought by Obama’s knee-jerk stoppage of all drilling – against the advice, hue and cry from everybody in the region, in the industry, and on both sides of the aisle who know anything. But yes, for all they actually cause.

Glenn Beck

But do we really want our president and his gang dragging executives of companies behind closed doors and threatening them with who-knows-what in order to have them fire whoever he deems unfit and, in this case, hand over $20-billion of shareholders’ money to be dispensed as he sees fit, with no say-so by the owners of that money or their elected representatives on the board? I guess that might sound cool when done to a big, bankrupt car maker or a giant insurance company or a bunch of banks or, now, the company responsible for Gulf disaster. But how swell will it sound when He destroys the company you work for or your entire industry (as he has the home mortgage industry)?

And are you sure you want to applaud Obama’s consistent disregard for (or, in my opinion, pleasure in the destruction of) shareholder value? Countless pension funds on which “working people” depend are invested in the automakers, banks, insurers and this oil company Obama has looted, eviscerated, put in needless jeopardy. The very raising of the issue of shareholder rights would be seen as siding with evil villains, so nothing is said by politicians, press or pundits.

So, obviously no one dare say a charitable word about BP’s Hayward. Relieved of his oil spill management duties at Obama’s demand, Hayward took a day to play at the yacht races, a sighting the media just couldn’t get enough of showing and yammering about. Obama made the point that he can’t swim down there and do plumbing or suck up the spill with a straw – so he and Biden out playing golf while the mess worsened.

Hayward’s played with his toy boat. He can’t do the plumbing either, but he doesn’t get a pass like Obama does. It was stupid from a public relations standpoint, but I imagine that dealing with our president and our Congress convinced him nothing he could do would matter in that regard. Perhaps the deposed corporate leader was deliberately thumbing his nose at us. If so, you can’t say our leaders didn’t ask for it. It just may be a slap in our face provoked by our punches to his nose.

BP may be proven negligent or even criminally negligent, and if so, at the appropriate time, all responsible should be held accountable. But there is no evidence that Obama and Congress had to resort to thuggery behind closed doors and grandstanding in public to get BP fully engaged in remedial efforts.

Obama could have brought BP executives in 50 days ago for a tea-and-crumpets summit and talked with them (as he was so eager to do with the despot ruling Iran). He might have created a co-operative partnership, and brought forward best efforts from a united front.

Why make BP a threatened and resentful adversary rather than ally? Hopefully, it was merely to score political points with his base – a poor enough motive – and not to prolong and magnify the crisis to further his ideological pursuit of cap-and-trade, crushing energy taxes and unaffordable prices at the pump.

If there has been criminal negligence since the spill, it’s Obama’s. The media has grudgingly reported that he’s spurned offers of assistance from other nations, that federal agencies involved are poorly coordinating to the point of chaos, and expert advice has been ignored. One minute he’s claiming authority, the next he’s denying control.

Weighed against the number of the president’s golf outings, parties and fundraising jaunts since the spill, Terrible Tony’s day at the yacht club is clearly not our biggest problem.


Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy is a serial entrepreneur and contributor to the Business & Media Institute.