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FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

Is the Obama White House In Charge?

Today’s Washington Post ran a front page news analysis entitled Obama struggling to show he’s in control of oil spill. Sweet, huh?

A defensive President Obama sought Thursday to quell doubts about his handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, insisting that his administration has been “in charge” from the moment it began and bristling that critics who accuse it of being sluggish to react “don’t know the facts.”

But at times during a 63-minute news conference in the East Room of the White House, the president seemed to undercut his own argument. He enumerated a litany of fumbles and lapses: that the government lacks resources and “superior technology” to respond to the disaster; that he personally had assumed oil companies “had their act together when it came to worst-case scenarios”; that his administration “fell short” with its acceptance of BP’s inaccurate estimate of the size of the gusher; that reforms of the corruption-plagued government agency that oversees offshore drilling “weren’t happening fast enough.”

At one point, Obama said he did not know whether Elizabeth Birnbaum — the director of the Minerals Management Service he blamed for allowing the oil industry to overrule environmental and safety concerns — had resigned or been fired hours before.

Could that be possible? That the president didn’t know if the director of the Minerals Management Service, the agency responsible for overseeing offshore drilling, had been fired or had resigned? Well, over the transom we have some information that indicates that might very well be the case.

According to our sources this is what happened yesterday.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar summoned Birnbaum to his office before the Congressional hearings before Representative Jim Moran’s subcommittee to let her know that she was not to attend the hearing and that her presence at the hearing and his association with her was somewhat less than useful to either Salazar or the Administration.

According to our sources Birnbaum, who is well known for being foul-mouthed (as well as aesthetically challenged), was underwhelmed by Salazar’s point of view and replied, “**** you.”

What followed was a frank and unvarnished exchange of opinions. At some point Department of Interior security personnel arrived and escorted Birnbaum from the premises. Salazar was accompanied to the hearing by Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes.

Word is that Salazar is aware of a position being reserved for him under the Obama bus. The BP exploration plan, their drilling permits, the National Environmental Protection Act exemptions… and the blowout…. all occurred under the current Administration. Someone has to be blamed, not even the media are blaming Bush for this, so someone in the Administration has to be the stuckee.

The story also demonstrates that apparently no one is really calling the shots in this administration. Obama has been too busy with legacy building, and nation destroying, initiatives to dirty his hands with governing. That is why a panicked Ken Salazar fired Birnbaum right before a congressional hearing. That is why no one bothered to tell Obama of this unfortunate fact.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is one helluva way for a nation to be run.

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