The political beating Obama has taken over the spill has been entirely appropriate. After all, this is a far left-wing President who believes in inserting the federal government into EVERYTHING because he thinks there's nothing government can't do better than the private sector. Run the banks? Run the auto companies? Student loans? Healthcare? You name it and Barack Obama wants the government to control it.
Of course, the government can't handle any of those industries any better than it can this oil spill, but there's the rub: This time, there's no waiting. People are getting to see the failure of government in the Gulf in real time. Here's a test of the government's preparation and competence that can be judged by a simple standard: How long will it take to "plug the damn hole" and get the mess cleaned up? Answer: Apparently a long, long, long, long time.
Yet, what is Obama primarily being criticized for? His inability to even pretend that he cares more about the Gulf than his golf game. His creepy autocratic demand that BP give him 20 billion dollars to use how he sees fit instead of staying within the law of the land. His disengagement. His flat emotionless response to this disaster. His inability to make any significant progress, even though he has admitted that his administration, not BP, is calling all the shots.
While these are all valid grounds for criticism, there's another area where Obama has actually been getting much more of a pass than he deserves: His administration has greatly hindered the clean-up efforts in the Gulf. In other words, there are businesses that have been ruined, people's livelihoods lost, and beaches that have oil on them today as a direct result of the Obama Administration's incompetence. It's a real world example of Ronald Reagan's famous quotation, ”The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I'm from the government and I'm here to help.’" Here's some of the "help" the Obama Administration has provided to the Gulf states in the aftermath of this crisis:
Why Won't Obama Waive the Jones Act? Waiving the Jones Act would make it easier for "foreign vessels to move in U.S. waters and between ports." This is quite significant, since the "State Department acknowledges it has had 21 aid offers from 17 countries." Getting that help could have been the difference between skimming off the oil at sea and seeing that same oil wash up on American beaches. George Bush waived the Jones Act during Katrina, so why hasn't Barack Obama followed his lead? Whatever his reasoning may be, the consequences of his inaction have been rather severe,
Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) pressed the president on the Jones Act during a recent face-to-face meeting. LeMieux said the action would signal America's allies that their help is wanted. Given the dire situation in the Gulf, what's the harm?
Two other members from Florida, Reps. Corrine Brown (D) and John Mica (R), said their state is suffering while skimmers sit idle. At a hearing on Thursday, Brown held up photos of vessels in Mexico and Norway, asking, "What is the process for the state to take advantage of skimmers from other countries?"
Mica trained his criticism on Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for failing to mobilize the entire American fleet. "U.S.-flag vessels have the capacity to bolster the current oil skimming and removal taking place in the Gulf of Mexico," he said. "Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen oil products wash up on the shores of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida while vessels, which could have been pressed into service, sit idle. This is unacceptable."
Perhaps the real problem Obama has with waiving the Jones Act is that it would be an acknowledgement of the obvious truth: That government regulations often slow the private sector down and get in the way. When you're a liberal who has never seen a regulation that you don't like, that can be a hard admission to make.
The Louisiana Sand Berms: Louisiana has been trying to build sand berms to keep oil away from its coastal marshes, where it would obviously cause a lot of environmental damage. Rather bizarrely, after dragging its feet about approving the sand berms, the Obama Administration has told Louisiana to stop building the sand berms because they might cause environmental damage. In other words, their logic is that Louisiana needs to allow oil to permeate their coastal marshes in order to prevent possible environmental damage. No wonder Bobby Jindal is pleading for "the federal government to get out of the way."
16 Crude Sucking Barges Taken Out Of Action By The Feds: Believe it or not, the Coast Guard actually stopped 16 crude-sucking barges from siphoning up oil in order to make sure "there were fire extinguishers and life vests" on the ships. Had Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal not pitched a fit to the media and called the White House, those barges might still be sitting around today, waiting for some Coast Guard bureaucrat to allow them to get back to work.
Government Delays Hamstring Alabama: Alabama Governor Bobby Riley's biggest hurdle in dealing with the oil spill has apparently been the Coast Guard,
As an example, (Riley) said a Coast Guard plan for protecting the Alabama shoreline has been held up for 45 days because another member of the committee is reviewing it.
"You can't continue to do that. We're going to have to have one person who makes the call on what we do and where," he said.
Imagine desperately needing to swing into action to help safeguard your state and having some bureaucrat strangling you in red tape for 45 days. But wait, it gets worse,
Riley, who has quietly lobbied for weeks for more oil-blocking barriers called booms, said the Coast Guard wrongly decided to remove miles of boom from Alabama and Mississippi last week and take it to Louisiana after large amounts of oil began hitting that state.
Speaking in an interview with The Associated Press during a three-state conference on hurricane planning, Riley said the decision meant wetlands, estuaries and beaches on the northern Gulf Coast are more at risk from the oil that began hitting their coasts in reddish-brown globs on Tuesday.
The Coast Guard wrongly believed floating booms could be returned to their original positions and used along with oil-removing boats called skimmers to keep oil off the coasts, Riley said, and the agency has held up approving the use of hundreds of private boats to remove oil.
If you think this is bad, just wait until the American people get to experience this sort of bureaucracy in action as the government takes over America's healthcare.
Deploying Only A Tiny Percentage Of Skimmers: As of a week ago, only 1/100 of the skimmers in the United States were deployed to help clean up the Gulf oil spill. Here's what Florida GOP Sen. George LeMieux had to say about this from the floor of the Senate.
61 days ago is when the tragedy started. We are here 61 days later, we still have this tremendous pouring of oil from the bottom of the sea floor into the Gulf of Mexico.
In fact, the amount of oil that is coming into the gulf now equals the size of the Exxon Valdez oil spill every 2 1/2 days.
...Last week -- a week ago tomorrow, I met with the President of the United States and Admiral Allen in Pensacola.
At that time, I raised the issue of skimmers. Why are there so few skimmers in the Gulf of Mexico? Why were there only at that time 32 skimmers off the coast of Florida?
...And I'll come to the floor tomorrow to talk about that in more detail. But the state of affairs is that there are only now 20 skimmers off the coast of Florida for.
When there were 32 last week, there are now just 20.
While there are 2,000 skimmers available in the United States alone. That number comes from Admiral Allen.
I spoke to Admiral Allen last week, along with my colleague from Alabama, Senator Sessions, and we said, where are the skimmers?
I showed him information like I have here today which is the Deepwater Horizon response report from the incident command in the state of Florida.
Then it showed 20 skimmers.
Today it still shows 20 skimmers.
And I asked him to reconcile this for me. If we're asking for all these skimmers, if we're calling for all of them to come here, where are they?
The response is anemic, at best.
So, Mr. President, today I've sent a letter to Admiral Allen asking for an inventory of the 2,000 skimmers that he has said are available in the United States of America.
Now, when I talked to the President and Admiral Allen about this last week, they said, look, some of these skimmers are not available because we may need them for an oil spill. Well, we have an oil spill.
It wasn't so long ago that Obama said, the Gulf Oil Spill "echoes 9/11." Yet, the Obama Administration is holding back all those skimmers in case there's a real emergency? I guess we're lucky Obama wasn't President when 9/11 happened or he'd probably still be trying to figure out who to bow to and where Afghanistan is on a map between games of golf.