According to Frank Rich, the "principal mission of the Obama presidency" is to prove (in Lincoln and Obama's words) that "the role of government is to do for the people what they cannot do better for themselves." And on that score Obama has been wildly successful.
The greatest damage from the Deepwater Horizon disaster (and yes, even with the hype-deflation, it's still a disaster) has been from government. The drilling ban imposed by the administration, against the counsel of the sort of "sound science" Obama usually sanctifies, has been devastating to the region, costing thousands of jobs and untold millions in lost revenues and taxes. That's definitely something the people couldn't have done better for themselves.
Meanwhile, if Obama is serious about driving America forward to a green economy "even if we don't yet know precisely how we're going to get there," he will take the Gulf region devastation on the road, destroying good jobs across the country (the oil and gas industry pays twice the national average) and replacing them with bad ones. He will replace cheap energy with expensive energy. (During the campaign, he promised that his plan would cause electricity rates to "skyrocket.") He will place bets on unproven technologies while discarding proven ones. In short, he will nationalize a disastrous disaster policy.
Fortunately, his energy plan has died in Congress without a vote, because even members of his own party recognized it as an economic and political suicide pact. A majority of voters never bought into the idea that the Gulf spill was yet another crisis for Obama to exploit rather than fix. If we can put a man on the moon, people said, plug the leak. Even 65 percent of Democrats oppose the ban, according to a Bloomberg poll.
It seems that the American people can make up their own minds better than government can. A point that should be driven home come November.
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