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Tinkering With the Truth

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

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."

Rush Limbaugh

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.

If that is the case, then how is it that for weeks his people have stating - quite strongly - that this was BP's problem, that BP had the responsibility (and the expertise) to fix it, but the administration was keeping a really, really close eye on BP, believe-you-me.

Just last week the EPA told BP to stop using some dispersant on the oil slick because it was toxic. BP told the EPA to take a hike and refused to stop using the stuff.

Just in case Obama's people in New Orleans have misplaced it, here's the number for the White House: 202-456-1414 so they can call the President and make BP do what the President wants them to do just as they have been doing since this began.

There was more Tinkering with the Truth yesterday. Again, just prior to the President's news conference the word went forth that the technique for capping the well known as "top kill" was working.

This was in spite of the fact that the Associated Press was reporting at about 8 PM last night that, "BP said it should know by late Friday if the technique worked."

So, how could anyone have known on Thursday morning that it was successful?

Oh. If the mudslinging maneuver doesn't work, wanna know what's next? According to, it's called a "junk shot." BP (under the personal direction of President Obama) will try to inject "golf balls and tire shards" into the well to try and stop the leak.

I am certain this is a perfectly excellent technique, but if I were writing for a late-night TV show I would have staffers stop cars with Obama bumper strips and ask if they would be willing to donate one of their tires for this effort, "It's for Obama, you know."

Then, I would have them stand in front of the clown's mouth and the windmill at the local miniature golf course asking the golfers if they minded giving up their golf balls to stop the oil leak in the Gulf of Ocean.

No more nor less tinkering with the truth than Obama did yesterday.

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