Picking Their PR Poison

Posted: May 30, 2010 6:54 PM
With the BP oil spill, President Obama is apparently learning -- perhaps for the first time -- about the limits of government power.  Having tried to keep his distance from the initial disaster, the President now finds himself stuck in an ugly conundrum while trying to convince the country of his deep interest and involvement in the matter "from Day One."

Here's the problem with the government's "we're telling BP what to do" meme: It's  a no-win scenario, unless, of course, a rabbit is pulled out of a hat and the problem is fixed -- an outcome that shows few signs of occurring, at this point.

Given that the problem is ongoing, the Obama White House is stuck in a "when did you stop beating your wife"-type problem with no good answer.  If they're not involved, then they're not in charge and not in control.  Seemingly indifferent, even.

But if they are in charge and calling the shots -- yet the problem continues -- they seem incompetent.  So they can pick their poison when it comes to public relations.

Ultimately, this is the problem with Obama's "government is the answer to everything" approach.  When it becomes clear that the government isn't, can't -- and shouldn't be -- the answer to everything, there's a heavy price both in real terms and in terms of disillusionment.

And it's an example of what happens when the government tries to do too much: It ends up being unable to do anything really well.

Wouldn't it be better for the government to stick to doing what it could do and should do -- e.g., making sure companies like BP have emergency contingency plans for disasters like this -- instead of spending time and taxpayer money engineering the minutiae of everyone's lives in everything from health care to recycling?

How about trying a government that does fewer things, and does them more competently?