'The political end of the president,' Part II
Initially, I thought Peggy Noonan was too quick to the draw
in criticizing Obama’s handling of the BP oil spill. Now Wayne Woodlief
has drawn and fired, leaving me belatedly fumbling for my own pundit revolver to shoot. The bottom line: The oil spill has really wounded this presidency – when it shouldn’t have.
I stand by my earlier assertion that there wasn’t – and still isn’t – much the president can do about the spill. There’s no federal agency with the expertise and equipment (nor should there be) to fix a deep-sea oil leak. The president has had to rely upon BP and the oil industry as a result. But I forgot two things: 1.) Perception is reality in politics and 2.) The cover-up is usually worse than the original sin. By ‘cover up,’ I don’t mean concealing a crime of some sort. It’s more like ‘ass covering.’ The president’s response to the criticism is the problem. It’s hollow. It’s cheap. It’s ineffective. It’s unpresidential. There’s no ‘the buck stops here.’ I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen such a botched PR campaign, played out before the entire nation to watch, assess and render judgment. He could have repaired the initial damage by saying he was right about reluctantly relying on BP while expressing regret he hadn’t reacted fast enough in other regards. Believe it or not, the public likes a little honesty and contriteness now and then. But the president didn’t take that approach. He proceeded to launch a shameless finger-pointing campaign, blaming BP for not giving the administration adequate information and taking on an angry tough-guy role that everyone knows isn’t the real him. He’s come across as pathetically insincere. He’s now getting it from all sides – the left, right and moderate center. …
Perhaps because of all the annoying Camelot connotations to this administration, the Hub Blog mind drifts to how President Kennedy handled his first big crisis, the Bay of Pigs, and how he ultimately accepted responsibility, even though he privately seethed at the gross incompetence of the entire military-industrial complex. Kennedy even went on his famous consultation walk
with ex-President Eisenhower to show how he was big enough to admit he had much to learn from an elder statesman – and a Republican to boot. There’s no Eisenhower for Obama to consult with today. But that doesn’t mean he has to jump every time Chris Matthews or James Carville open their big mouths. …
So the president wants a comprehensive energy policy. But here’s part of the problem: His own allies won’t accept compromises
. They’re not sincere about making the country less dependent on foreign oil. It’s all about climate change and pie-in-the-sky solutions
P.S. -- I still don't think Obama's presidency is over. But it's been badly wounded.