Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I know what you’ve been feeling. The president should do something about this oil spill. He should personally take charge of the capping effort. You imagine Barack Obama on a Naval destroyer. His one hand grasping the rigging, leaning past the bow of the ship, his other hand shading his eyes, as he scans the watery horizon for any sign of the source of the oil. When the ship finally arrives at the epicenter of the disaster, the President has already stripped down to a bathing suit, in preparation for what everyone knows he must do. Executing a perfect swan dive, he plunges into the thick black whirlpool, a large shark knife clenched between his teeth.

Ok, maybe that’s not what you are imagining. I don’t know. You are going to have to work out all that homoerotic fantasizing yourself. I can’t help you. Either way, you need to accept the idea that Barack Obama is not going to get involved with this emergency, and contrary to what you’re feeling, that’s probably a good thing.

I say this as a result of two facts. First, in 1979 a similar drilling accident occurred off the coast of Mexico and they tried everything we are trying now (high hats, top kill, rubber tires, the whole enchilada) in an attempt to stop the leak. In spite of all their efforts, the geyser was not capped until a relief well was drilled TEN MONTHS later. And that whole exercise occurred in only 160 feet of water. This current spill is happening one mile under the ocean. There really is little hope that this will end any time soon. So we must resign ourselves to the fact that there is no minimization of damages here. There is only recovery, years and years of recovery.

And the second fact is that these years of recovery are going to cost billions. So who is going to pay those billions? No question, BP, right? Of course. But what if Obama takes control of the capping effort? Then what? What if, say, he had ordered crews to use the top kill first, then the top hat, (the opposite of what BP did)? What then? Probably the same results - failure. And the relief well would still have to be drilled.

Only there really would be a big difference. British Petroleum wouldn’t be responsible for all the failures, Barack Obama would. And BP would have an argument in court. “Why should we pay the entire cost of the cleanup,” they would say. “It’s partially also the presidents fault. After all he authorized the top kill before the high hat. That was a mistake. If we, BP, were in charge, it would have been done differently. We would have had that well capped in half the time. As a result, your honor, we, at BP, feel we should only have to pay for half of the cleanup.” And you know that’s what they would say.

Even if the President did exactly what BP is doing now, in exactly the same order - it wouldn’t matter. BP would say, they’d of done it differently. That’s what any corporation would say. There is nothing wrong with that. There job is to make money. (or stop from paying for pesky things like cleanups) But we can’t give BP any excuses.

You see, we have to continue to allow BP to be completely in charge. They must be completely responsible. We have no alternative, unless we, the American people want to be on the hook for some portion of what will inevitably be billions upon billions of dollars for cleanup. Unfortunately, until the well is capped, we are all BP’s bitches. Now, once the well is capped, that’s a different story. Then, hopefully, we can kick some ass. (There I go, dreaming again)

No comments: