To the left, the oil spill is not an index of presidential competence or an issue in the political sphere. It is a daily gushing of poison into the Earth's waters as a direct result of the president's failure to stop it. They blame BP. But they already hate oil companies. And they blame Obama, too. And they are coming to dislike him.
When Obama attempts to recoup this damage to his political base by pushing new legislation on the environment or by resurrecting his cap-and-trade legislation or by bringing criminal charges against BP or by setting up a liability fund for the spill's victims, it does not solve his political problem. With each day, 60,000 gallons gush into the Gulf of Mexico, Obama's equivalent of the body count in Iraq that caused the left to loathe George W. Bush. Rhetoric or programs or visits to the gulf or posturing won't assuage the negatives. Only plugging the hole in the bottom of the ocean can do it.
The right and center of American politics turned off Obama over health care. And now the left is leaving him over the oil spill.
Why can't Obama plug the hole?
Because he has no administrative experience. I often saw Bill Clinton, as governor and as president, call in experts and ask the tough questions when he faced a new disaster. In Arkansas, it was tornadoes or floods or fires. In Washington, it was Oklahoma City. But, each time, he thoroughly familiarized himself with all the technical issues. He took a bath in the science and substance of the hazard and became as knowledgeable as those who had spent a lifetime studying it. So he knew what questions to ask.
Any CEO or COO or manager has similar experience. But a community organizer, law professor, state senator, U.S. senator and president doesn't have the requisite experience. He doesn't know not to trust his own bureaucracy. He hasn't been burned enough to realize that he needs to intervene to waive restrictions, set aside regulations and open up the process to new solutions. He's like JFK during the Bay of Pigs. He doesn't know how to avoid being betrayed by his own bureaucracy and the industry it's supposed to regulate.
Why did he not waive the Jones Act (he still hasn't) to allow foreign vessels to ply our waters to clean up the spill? Not because he was against it. He couldn't have been against so obvious a course as waiving it. It was likely because nobody told him about it, and he never knew to ask.