President Obama used about an hour of his press conference yesterday trying to explain how - in spite of his handlers' having spent the past month trotting out the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Commandant of the Coast Guard to be the faces of the Gulf of Ocean oil spill - that he, Barack Obama, had been personally on top of this situation from the moment the drilling rig exploded until that very moment.
Just prior to the presser, it was leaked that the head of the Minerals Management Service (MMS), Liz Birnbaum, was leaving her post. The head of MMS is a political appointee. Birnbaum was an appointee who had appointed by Barack Obama's very own appointers. She was not a holdover from the Bush Administration.
Obama was asked if she had been fired or had quit, about which the Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart wrote:
"By not proactively announcing Birnbaum's departure and then being caught flat-footed on what happened to her, Obama will fuel the narrative that he is a cool chief executive who is not only aloof but also unaware of the machinations of his own administration."
All right. To be fair, I'm confident that no sitting President, going back to whenever the position of Director of MMS was invented, could have named the person who held that post, nor could he have picked him or her out of a lineup.
But, to continue to be fair (which is flat wearing me out) no Director of MMS had ever been in charge of the Service during an event of the scale and scope of the British Petroleum Oil Spill in the Gulf of Ocean and someone close to the President had to make the decision to can her.
Interior Secretary Salazar said that she had not been fired, but had relieved of her duties and given the option of taking another job. What job she had been offered had not been described as of last night, but I'm thinking: Deputy, Under, Assistant Dee-partmental Coffee-getter.
Here's the part that needs some further analysis. It seems to me that the White House staff had decided (with the help of James Carville and Donna Brazile) that the only sin greater than not capping the Gusher in the Gulf was to be seen as having ceded control of the situation to an oil company; and not just any oil company, but a foreign oil company.
So, they had Obama go out and say he had been the Decider-in-Chief on this deal right from the get-go.