Monday, June 14, 2010

White House Focused on Managing Politics of Gulf Oil Spill

Repeat After Me: Bush Responsible for BP Oil Spill... and so forth.

Have you got it memorized yet? That President Bush is responsible for the Gulf Oil Spill? Not a day goes by that Obama or one of his officials doesn’t mention it, and it was Nanny Pelosi’s turn yesterday. Pelosi’s already had her turn several times already, though. The Administration seems to think that the only defense against criticism of its failure to lead is bluster.

It’s kind of like that old table-pounding theory. When you’re a defense lawyer (and the current administration is full of lawyers, from the Lawyer-in-Chief on down) and all the evidence is against you, from eyewitnesses to DNA, you can only pound the table to make your case.

The evidence in this case is an absence of leadership. Down in D.C., they’re making it up as it goes along, according to the polls and the press clippings. If the media, Gulf politicians, and even the members of your own party complain that the President has appeared to take refuge in the Ivory Tower, then you arrange scripted public appearances where, at the advice of people like Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod, you make what policy wonks think are salty references. So the President says he’s been “finding out whose *ss to kick.”

The trouble with that strategy is that the President seems to have left out a qualifier. The President should have said he was “finding out whose *ss NOT to kick,” because as things go, there’s not an American butt anywhere which hasn’t already been kicked by this administration. And that includes the crayfish, the shrimp, and the water ducks who struggle in the muck. It’s more than painful to watch, and just as painful to watch the confusion and the mix of messages from the White House.

Or maybe the problem is entirely with the White House grammar. After all, the words “Gulf” and “golf” do bear a resemblance. Imagine how it would play in the media if President Bush, the man responsible for the BP Oil Spill, would take the afternoon off to play “Gulf.”

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